DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. is adopting a new computer-aided design process for interior trim parts that promises to reduce total development time by 35 percent or more. The automaker views the new process, known as CADCAM-The Master, as a key element in getting new car models to market in as little as two years, down from the current three.
For interior trim, the new computer tool promises to be ``the biggest factor'' in getting under that two-year threshold, said Gregory Borchanian, interior commodity engineer for Ford's Advanced Vehicle Technology group.
Originally developed by Ford for sheet metal design, the new process was successfully tested by Ford's Automotive Components Division and two of the automaker's main interior systems suppliers - Prince Corp. and Automotive Industries Inc. - during the past two years.
The three programs, involving production of an overhead console, floor console and cowl side trim, showed cumulative time savings of 30-35 percent compared with existing product development systems.
Because of the success of the pilot programs, Ford is adopting the new program for all of its newly tooled, injection molded assemblies.
CADCAM-The Master, developed internally at Ford, involves a single master database of design information that is used to eliminate weeks of effort formerly invested in drawings, die models and prototype tools.
Now Ford wants to push the technology even further and cut development time by 50 percent. That means total elimination of physical prototypes, electronic testing of parts and electronic tool tryouts.
Borchanian said the time-to-market savings may not be so dramatic on complex assemblies, such as instrument panels. But he is still confident that the CADCAM-The Master tool still will provide benefits.