ETA, Red Cedar Technology Collaborate On Research to Reduce Vehicle Weight

June 1, 2010
ACP design process uses SHERPA search strategy to advance FGPC and FSV projects.

The Accelerated Concept to Product process from Engineering Technology Associates Inc. (ETA) is being credited with achieving significant weight reductions for the Auto/Steel Partnership’s Future Generation Passenger Compartment (FGPC) project and WorldAutoSteel’s Future Steel Vehicle (FSV) initiative. Both research efforts are among an ongoing series of initiatives by (respectively) the domestic and global steel industries to develop automotive design concepts that reduce vehicle weight by 30 percent or more.

ETA’s Accelerated Concept to Product (ACP) is an advanced product development process that uses specialized design optimization technologies to resolve to design problems. The group explains that ACP uses a “holistic product development process” with multi-disciplinary (MD) loading based on topology and 3G (geometry, grade, and gauge) optimization. It incorporates Red Cedar Technology Inc.’s HEEDS® Professional, a software package that automates the design optimization process. HEEDS contains a search strategy called SHERPA, a proprietary hybrid adaptive strategy for parameter optimization.

SHERPA — Simultaneous Hybrid Exploration that is Robust, Progressive and Adaptive — uses multiple search methods simultaneously, rather than sequentially. This approach takes advantage of the best attributes of each method, and reduces a method’s participation in the search if or when it is determined to be ineffective.

“Incorporating SHERPA, a third-party optimization code, has helped to expedite the design process through optimization to reduce development costs, and improve efficiency, all while helping to harness the challenges of design complexity for engineers,” explained ETA’s Dr. Akbar Farahani, vice president of Global Engineering. “ETA and Red Cedar are committed to continuously improving and streamlining the design and manufacturing processes.”

ACP, in conjunction with the SHERPA search method, was used in the research conducted by the Auto/Steel Partnership, and resulted in a conceptual optimization methodology for realizing a mass reduction of 30 percent when compared with a typical passenger compartment of the same vehicle class.

A second research phase proved that these conceptual ideas could be applied to a production vehicle, indicating that overall mass could be reduced by as much as 20 percent with current manufacturing methods.

The success of the FGPC work led to the Future Steel Vehicle (FSV) initiative, led by WorldAutoSteel, which seeks to extend the positive results and develop designs that can reduce vehicle weight by 35 percent or more.

“We are pleased to be an integral part of ETA’s ACP design optimization process,” said Ron Averill, Red Cedar Technology’s president and CEO. “We are known for accelerating engineering design with our uniquely powerful and comprehensive optimization software. HEEDS software is extremely intuitive and interfaces directly with major CAE applications while it intelligently conducts a broad and efficient search for optimal designs.”

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