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FORD ADVANCED ENGINEERING CENTER (AEC): THE SITE OF MANY FIRSTS

 DEARBORN, Mich., June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Motor Company's (NYSE: F) 285,000-square-foot Advanced Engineering Center (AEC) is one of the world's most sophisticated technology centers.
 An incubator for Ford's product development efforts, the $84 million AEC is one of the world's largest acoustic installations and engineering facilities -- both in square footage and in number of test facilities -- devoted to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
 The site of the first all-wheel-drive acoustic chassis dynomometer in the United States, the AEC system provides independent control of each vehicle wheel. The AEC also has the first all-wheel-drive acoustic powertrain dynamometer, which allows Ford to test powertrains in either a fixture or a vehicle.
 "In addition," said Paul Brey, the AEC's principal research associate, "Ford engineers can test a vehicle's NVH performance in a variety of temperatures thanks to its temperature controlled acoustic chassis dynamometer, also the first of its kind in the United States. This chamber allows researchers to test a vehicle's acoustic and vibratory properties under extreme temperatures (from minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit). We previously had to go to outdoor facilities in Minnesota and Arizona for this, so the AEC relieves us of the vagaries of weather."
 Said David A. Velliky, manager, NVH & Advanced Technology Department: "Obviously, the convenience of an on-site facility, the ability to monitor and control the temperature precisely, and access to precision measurement equipment make this a more desirable situation. The greater control we have with this chamber will translate into better data and more reliable results."
 The AEC uses the same type of hardware and software throughout the center making it the largest computer installation dedicated to advanced engineering and NVH reduction in the world. The computer systems -- which support data acquisition functions at the AEC -- also provide greater operational efficiency, and reduced training requirements. Additionally, the computer systems are compatible with Ford of Europe's, allowing the AEC and Ford of Europe to share data and information.
 The AEC's 3-D Acoustic Intensity Measurement Robot System is the first robotic device specifically designed to measure acoustic intensity automatically, allowing researchers to use the device to take accurate measurements on all the plains that surround a part -- especially under severe performance conditions that would preclude researchers from being in close proximity to the tests. Moreover, the robotic system also ensures more accurate and repeatable data collection.
 Ford will be able to use lasers to measure the kinematic and compliance properties of vehicle suspension systems with its Kinematic and Compliance Test Laboratory -- scheduled to come on-line in the second quarter of 1994.
 These types of measurement are not unique to the AEC, but Ford is the first to use lasers to measure these properties.
 The relative speed with which Ford brought the AEC to fruition was only possible because of the dedication shown by the design and construction team. Long-lead funding for the center was approved in November, 1989 and ground was broken in June 1990. Moreover, Ford made sure that those who eventually would use the AEC's capabilities would be the ones who designed its labs, test cells and general layout.
 "Perhaps the prime reason we were able to get the AEC on-line so quickly was that we gave our engineering staff a clean sheet of paper and told them to design a building that would meet their needs," said Glen S. Lyall, chief engineer, Ford Vehicle Development. "That approach generated an unprecedented enthusiasm and response. We selected people with the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to complete this fast-track project. We didn't have time for setbacks. We needed people who know how to design and build research facilities and also knew how to use them."
 Ford forged unprecedented partnerships while building the AEC. "In many areas we simultaneously engineered and constructed the facility," said Velliky. "This was possible only by interacting with each other on a substantially deeper level than we had in the past."
 Unlike other design teams, whose members are scattered throughout an organization after construction is completed, many of those on the AEC construction team have been redeployed to staff the center. "We staffed our team with experts in various research-related disciplines. It made sense to draw on this talent pool when staffing the AEC," said Velliky. "It also made sense to build on the relationships the team developed with each other during the construction phase."
 Teamwork is a theme that pervaded not only the construction of the center but one that remains an overall objective of the AEC. "By having program teams from throughout Ford working in the same facility, we create a highly communicative environment. This environment will reinforce the idea that everyone within Ford is on the same team," said Christopher L. Magee, director, Advanced Vehicle Systems Engineering, whose team is responsible for much of the pre-programming engineering work done in the AEC. "The AEC is intended to be a research and engineering focal point within Ford. It is a place where the best minds within Ford can share ideas."
 Construction of the AEC also helped Ford cultivate deeper partnerships with its consultants, suppliers, and contractors. Ford allowed its partners much greater autonomy than it had in the past. "The construction planning and its interface with engineering requirements couldn't have been better," said Jorge Pacheco, project construction manager. "The program management process we used worked extraordinarily well. It reduced the adversity that owners and their suppliers sometimes experience to zero,"
 The AEC is equipped with millions of dollars worth of forefront technology, but without the talent and dedication and its people, the center's potential would be greatly diminished. As Lyall put it: "The AEC remains a prime example of how scientific breakthroughs are made -- not by space-age technology or sophisticated equipment alone, but by minds sharing information and working together."
 Ford recognizes that the battle for NVH improvements is likely to heat up. "Unveiling the AEC is like firing the first shot. We are prepared for a spirited fight," said Velliky.
 -0- 6/14/93
 /CONTACT: Mark Miller of Ford North American, 313-845-5745/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

ML -- DE005 -- 1516 06/14/93 10:21 EST
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Date:Jun 14, 1993
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