A new research and development facility in Windsor has the potential to become a testing laboratory for the engines that drive Ford Motor Company vehicles around the world.
Ford of Canada's new Powertrain Engineering Research & Development Centre (PERDC) officially opened today with a customer-focused goal of continually improving the way Ford designs and manufactures engines and transmissions.
Located at Ford's bustling Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, the $13 million PERDC houses a dedicated team of Ford engineers – working with graduate students from the University of Windsor's Faculty of Engineering – to study engine performance variability in a dynamic research and manufacturing environment.
"In recent years, consumer research has indicated a growing demand for quieter, smoother automotive engines, particularly for trucks," said Ford's David Szczupak, Vice President, Powertrain Operations. "As a key source of the company's global engine production, Windsor was the natural choice for advanced research and development in this area."
The PERDC is an extension of the research labs at Ford's Advance Engineering Centre in Michigan where the company employs four advance dynamometer cells for NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) testing and research. In Windsor, the PERDC will perform computer-aided testing on engines and transmission, with particular emphasis on NVH. Testing will initially focus on Windsor-produced 3.9- and 4.2-litre V-6 engines, and the Triton family of V-8 and V-10 engines. Engineering representatives from the five Ford and Nemak Corporation engine and casting plants in Windsor participate in the testing and data assessment. NVH, life cycle and road-load simulation tests will also be conducted on truck and car transmissions.
Data collected from testing performed at the PERDC will provide design engineers with a critical baseline to help determine the level of improvement in NVH that will result by redesigning certain components in future engines or transmissions. Work at the PERDC is coordinated through the Ford Advanced Engineering Centre and Product Engineering in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford Motor Company's research shows that its attention to powertrain refinement levels and engine sound quality is making a difference to customers.
"Our objective is to test engines and transmissions used on Ford products around the world. As a global operation, the Centre could make a strong contribution to customer satisfaction everywhere," said Jimi Tjong, Ford's Staff Technical Specialist and PERDC Founder.
The PERDC recruits "A" average Masters and PhD candidate engineering students from the University of Windsor. Up to eight graduate students work at the Centre at any given time for work terms of two to five years. Graduate students are directly involved in engine testing. In preparation for their graduate projects (the topics for which are typically related to the testing or development that occurs at the PERDC), they are exposed to digital signal processing, along with the collection and analysis of data. Each graduate student is given an individual project to work on though the duration of his or her term.
Ford of Canada’s operations include a national headquarters, six regional offices, six vehicle assembly and engine manufacturing plants, two parts distribution centres, and affiliates including Ford Credit, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Hertz. Ford employs more than 16,000 people, while an additional 21,000 are employed in 500 Ford and Ford-Lincoln dealerships across Canada. In 2002, revenues for Canadian operations were $23.3 billion, making Ford of Canada one of the country's largest privately-held companies. Since 1990, Ford has invested nearly $9.5 billion in its Canadian operations. For more information, please visit www.ford.ca.