Designing Safer Vehicles through Robustness Analysis

Luxury vehicle manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, design high performance passenger cars sold throughout the world. The vehicles contain a great range of systems to protect the passengers in the event of a crash. The knee bolster is one such system designed to absorb the impact of the passengers’ knees on the car’s interior. The design represents a complex problem due to the wide range of variables involved such as different sized occupants, impact locations, material variation and manufacturing variation.

With a long standing relationship in place, Altair ProductDesign was selected to assist in solving this challenging design problem. The objective of the study was to create a new process and design that is optimized for real world conditions, not just for one particular set of ideal variables, while still meeting regulatory standards.

A six sigma process was developed to solve the problem by defining the performance requirements, characterizing the parameters which had the greatest effect on the component’s performance, and finally optimizing the bolster for real world conditions. The new process combined a robustness assessment directly within the optimization loop which presented a range of performance results based on different impact variables. From this, the design could be altered to find the optimum set up where the bolster performed best for the range of driver and crash conditions.

A unique process has been developed which is computationally efficient. This new technology can identify parameters which drive manufacturing quality and help develop supplier guidelines to control variations. The final design was achieved in a fraction of the normal design time with an increased understanding of the performance drivers involved leading to a safer vehicle for a wider range of occupants.

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