Shawn Mahaney

Last Updated: 11/21/2009

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Gender: Male
Status: Single
Age: 38
Sign: Cancer

State: South Carolina
Country: US
Signup Date: 5/22/2005

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009 

Current mood:  peeved
Category: Life
So the "top lawyer for Ford Motor Company" has an opinion about the facilities at ICAR, the Clemson automotive research facility.  He thinks they're pretty spiffy.  In fact, he went so far as to say, "I can tell you it rivals anything I’ve seen in Dearborn in terms of the facilities there".


The test cells at ICAR are a bunch of misfit toys, an odd agglomeration of curiously spec'ed facilities.  In some ways there are amazing abilities, like the four-post full chassis vibration system being in a climate chamber capable of arctic or desert conditions.  This is really unusual, but so is a doll with three legs and a red mohawk.  Its stroke is limited too - nothing like what I've seen them do to any truck for suspension life testing.

And the guys who run the oversize hi-precision coordinate measuring system in the atrium will be the first to tell you that because it's _not_ in a separate climate controlled space, it's useless.  If the building A/C kicks on in the middle of a measurement, the thing they're measuring, and their own instrument, change size halfway through.

Next door to that is a single engine dyno cell.  It's got lots of instrumentation channels, but it's tiny and can take only modest power levels.  So much for testing engines of those freight-running big rigs, or systems for hybrid busses - the things that would do the most to meet ICAR's mission.

And there's a nifty radio-anechoic chamber for testing electrical gear, which is too small to get a vehicle into.  Brilliant.

Ok, mister lawyer... how about you take a step outside your Michigan Ave office tower every now and then and go see where your engineers work.

The newly expanded dyno lab in Dearborn has more cells than anywhere else, many of them capable of running your big hard-working truck and racing engines into the ground.  These cells work day and night to run powertrains through 3000+ hour stress tests, spitting out gigabytes of real data.

Besides the great little test track there in Dearborn,
Ford has dedicated hot and cold weather test facilities in Arizona and Canada.  And the roads in southeast Michigan are conveniently abysmal - perfect for NVH testing.

Ford has a dedicated competetive benchmarking team which tests and measures and documents the efforts of other manufacturers.  They make lovely bound color reports - which no one has time to read because they're keeping up with an incessant stream of corporate paperwork.

Yeah, there's the rub.  Your company still sucks.  Despite having all the tools anyone could need, the right thing still fails to happen more often than not.  Ford has a great campus in Dearborn, with its own bus system on top of a ton of network gear, and practically wrote the book on digital collaboration among global sites (we used to hand off jobs overnight to Mazda Japan then pick em up in the morning to keep working).  Yep - data moves, but ideas don't.

And so we get SHIT like the new Taurus.

It's a grab bag of 90s/00s styling bits stuck on to a generic sedan shape, Mr Potato Head style.  And of course it's overweight - it is a Ford after all.  For all the hard work that's gone into the under-skin bits, for which personal friends of mine have sweat blood, it's still not a whole car.  And it caps a line of undistinctive but uniformly handicapped mid-range cars.

Mr. Leitch, get back to your law books, see if you can get Billy Ford to quit begging for government intervention in your business, and let your creative people CREATE for a change!

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