Robert Schad knows about the top concerns facing automotive suppliers: cost cutting, market share losses, increasing competition from China.
And, he said, those issues are not about to go away.
``This is not temporary,'' Schad told members of the Society of Plastics Engineers' automotive division during the group's Nov. 17 annual awards event. ``Anybody who is waiting for things to come around is going to have a real problem.''
Schad, the founder and chief executive officer of Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., received the division's Executive Leadership Achievement Award during the annual event in Livonia.
``As automotive suppliers, you have to provide not just the specifications, but the solutions,'' he said. ``This is what [Husky has] to do, and we have to have the answers.''
Husky, based in Bolton, Ontario, launched a regional technical center in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Mich., in 1999 to step up its connections with carmakers and suppliers. That dedicated emphasis will continue, Schad promised.
The event also marked top honors for new plastics systems that took to the streets during 2003.
A roof module for DaimlerChrysler AG's Smart roadster took the grand award for the event, as well as winning for exterior body components.
ArvinMeritor Inc. of Troy, Mich., produces the thermoformed roof module using a Lexan SLX and polycarbonate copolymer supplied by GE Plastics for the roadster. The roof does not require painting and comes in at half the weight of a steel roof system.
Two composite systems tied for the materials category award.
Quadrant Plastic Composites developed the SymaLite composite sheet used for underbody panels on BMW AG's 5 Series. The thermoformed part offers 8.8 pounds of weight savings per vehicle - a 30 percent drop compared with compression or injection molded glass-reinforced poly- propylene parts.
A redeveloped sheet molding compound used in the load floor of the Renault SA Megane allows for faster cycle time. Each part can be produced by molder InoPlastic Omnium in 60 seconds, allowing for economies of scale and volume while also offering an 8.8-pound weight savings compared with steel.
Other category winners were:
* Process/Enabling Technologies: Intertec Systems, a joint venture of Johnson Controls Inc.'s automotive unit in Plymouth, Mich., and Inoac Corp. of Nagoya, Japan, is using its ``high-performance integration'' technology on a Mazda 6 instrument panel. The system allows the firm to produce a soft foam-in-place area on the upper portion of the panel along with a hard-surface, nonpainted lower portion. The company cut $15 from standard systems through reduced tooling, manufacturing, assembly and trimming operations.
* Interior: Delphi Corp. of Troy, Mich., and material supplier Spartech Polycom Inc. came up with a filled PP for use in an instrument panel carrier for General Motors Corp. full-size pickup trucks. The material replaced a filled styrenic maleic anhydride at a 43 percent drop in resin costs.
* Powertrain: BMW has adopted a glass-reinforced phenolic using resin from Vyncolit NV molded by Baumgarten GmbH for system supplier Kolbenschmidt Pierburg GmbH to produce a manifold with plastic intake runner lengths that are continuously variable, based on the engine conditions. It comes in at a 20-25 percent weight savings compared with aluminum, with a 5-10 percent increase in torque in the engine's middle ranges.
* SPE's Hall of Fame award - for systems in continuous use for at least 10 years - went to GM for its involvement in the development of the expanded PP foam energy absorbers for bumper systems.