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New Commodore's front-end hailed by SAE-A

Winners: VE Commodore has an all-new modular front-end (above). PBR's new brake calliper (below, top) and Britax Childcare's Safe-n-Sound child seats (below, bottom) also picked up SAE-A awards.

VE Commodore wins its first award, as PBR, Boss and Safe-n-Sound score minor gongs

Holden logo14 Aug 2006

THE VE Commodore has won its first award - the 2006 gold automotive engineering excellence award for its front-end module design.

The winner was announced at last Friday night’s 2006 Automotive Engineering Excellence Awards by the Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia and was presented to GM Holden executives Andrew Sansome, Matthew Elding and Brenton Maidment by SAE-A president Max Gillard.

In awarding the prize the judges said the VE’s front-end module embodied an excellent balance between design engineering, manufacturing/production engineering and aftermarket servicing.

"It also enables the off-line sub-assembly of a major module of the vehicle, which can be assembled with the highest level of fit and finish," they said.

"Major problems with the prior model front-end assembly were eliminated by allowing full walk-in access to the engine bay on the assembly line and many existing OH&S issues were concurrently eliminated.

"The bolt-on modularity of the front-end not only allows nine versions of front-end module to be readily assembled to the vehicle, it will also enhance in service access and repair capability and cost.

"This assembly approach is a sought-after feature by OE manufacturers in assembly operations worldwide."The importance of safety and the need to streamline production processes to remain globally competitive were highlighted at the ninth annual awards night.

Mr Gillard said the record number of 14 entries challenged judges and reflected not only the prestige of the awards themselves, but also the strength and continued innovation of automotive engineering in Australia.

"The industry has experienced considerable change since last year’s awards, with all Australian car-makers introducing new models in some form," he said.

"These awards recognise excellence in automotive engineering, manufacturing, product design, and quality to encourage higher industry standards, and to increase public awareness of the Australian automotive industry."In addition to the gold, silver and bronze awards, judges this year also made a special commendation award, won by Britax Childcare Pty Ltd for its Safe-n-Sound Platinum AHR and Safe-n-Sound Meridian AHR convertible child restraints.

The bronze award went to Boss Polymer Technologies for its Boss generic self adhesive system, an economic alternative to heat activated pressure sensitive tapes. The award was presented to Boss managing director Norman Mills by Michael Case, representing bronze sponsor RACV.

The silver award went to PBR International for its high performance opposed-piston brake calipers.

13 center imageThe callipers include significant innovations and address the growing requirement for high-performance braking systems.

The four and six-piston designs were developed after extensive benchmarking that identified key design shortfalls in competing brake products.

Separate friction pads per piston are one of several new features. They eliminate taper wear of the friction material that can cause piston jamming and brake failure.

When tested on a 2006 Corvette at the famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany, its 7.43-minute lap time comfortably beat the 8:00 minutes required for "super car" status.

Chairman of the judging panel, David Ford, reflected on recent reports about the decline of Australian manufacturing and of companies closing, due to the difficulties of competing in the global market and against either lower cost base countries, or higher volume markets, which give economies of scale.

"I believe that this is an unnecessarily pessimistic and negative response, because if that is what you believe, then that is what will happen," he said.

"Smaller companies which do not have the required levels of technical, management or entrepreneurial skills will struggle.

"The solution for them is not to complain and ask for more support or shut the door, but to go out and obtain those skills and then compete.

"Experienced professional engineers with business skills are what are needed throughout the manufacturing industry.

"To survive, Australian industries need to create new and better products and to join the global market and compete overseas as well as locally."GM Holden chairman and managing director, Denny Mooney, arrived at the awards night to deliver the key note speech and departed with gold.

He said the VE Commodore made a strong statement about the Australian car industry’s expertise and its place in the automotive world.

"We started with a clean sheet of paper and set out to lift the bar on what we could achieve with quality and refinement, looking at cars around the world as aspirational targets," he said.

"It was ambitious and well worth the results. The Australian car industry has a strong future, while it continues to make globally competitive cars such as VE Commodore."

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