Muhammad Usman, senior global manager and technical leader, powertrain at Ford Motor Company told delegates at the Automotive and sustainability conference in Charlotte in June that there are still many opportunities for polyurethanes in the automotive sector.
Trying to supply polyurethane components to automotive customers for the first time can be a daunting prospect for many companies and companies trying to enter this area face a number of challenges.
They need to find the right groups to talk to; they have to understand the engineering specifications their products must meet and then if companies have a product which checks the boxes How do they get that product into an OEM?
Usman said that the process “is a set process, and an implementation heavy. Take the idea to the product development group, not the tier group and not the research lab.”
“On the material side, any process that goes to any research group at Ford or GM or Chrysler will cost it out,” he added.
Usman continued: “Then it goes through the implementation-readiness process. The product is produced and tested and from the component point of view there is an ES spec, written by the development team. The material team will also be involved. Every material has to be approved and only once it gets an approval number within an OEM can it can be used.”
“We have to look at everything from material development how much work needs to be done as well as joining technology,” he said. For example, “If we are looking at foam on the back of a carpet, how durable with the joining be?”
Usman added that if the material is specified for a part then there has to be enough capacity to make the material in the volumes needed for popular models. The Ford F150 will sell between 650,000 and 700,000 trucks/year. “When you introduce a new technology and mass production comes in the future, you will have to be able to produce that many components with that level of quality.” Parts suppliers need to ensure that their ingredients suppliers have sufficient capacity to meet future demand.”