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Old 12-17-2009   #1 (permalink)
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New 'noise vision' technology allows ford to see and eliminate unwanted interior soun

Ford Motor Company is using a new technology that allows engineers to actually see unwanted sounds and eliminate them during vehicle development to ensure new vehicles have the quietest interior cabins.

Ford is the first automaker in North America to use the new “Noise Vision” tool, which is part of Ford’s drive to lead the industry in top vehicle quality and customer satisfaction. Customers connect an ultra-quiet cabin with overall product quality and satisfaction, and quietness is one of the top reasons to buy a vehicle, according to third-party customer satisfaction studies.

“The key to world-class interior quietness is to pinpoint the source and location of every unwanted sound, no matter how subtle it is,” said Bill Gulker, Ford’s leader of Wind Noise Engineering. “Noise Vision already is paying off for Ford, with the new 2010 Taurus, Fusion, Flex and F-150 achieving the quietest interiors in their class.”

Noise Vision is a small sphere that is placed inside the vehicle cabin. It is equipped with more than 30 highly sensitive microphones and 12 special cameras. Powerful software reads data from Noise Vision and creates a computerized image showing interior noise “hot spots,” including wind noise, a squeak or rattle, or unwanted feedback from the engine or the road.

Ford began using Noise Vision – formally known as the Noise Source Identification Tool – to develop new vehicles for the 2010 model year. The high-tech tool’s thermal imaging is similar to the kind used for military work and medical research.

In the past, Ford engineers worked long and hard to identify unwanted rattles, squeaks or knocks. Finding an unwanted sound often was a process of elimination, which could take days or weeks.

Noise Vision streamlines the process to hours, and it’s saving money, too. In the past year alone, the technology has allowed Ford’s North American NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) engineers to reduce 200 hours of wind tunnel testing time a year – saving more than $300,000 in testing costs.

“We used to rely on trial and error to make a vehicle quieter,” said Gulker. “It was a process of elimination that often led us to mask the issue with thicker glass or more sound insulation. Noise Vision literally shows us where the noise is and allows us to eliminate it once and for all.”

Quietness and quality leadership
Today, Ford’s initial vehicle quality is equal to Toyota and Honda. Ford vehicle interior quietness also rivals many luxury brands, including Lexus, according to third-party consumer research.

In fact, Ford has the fewest wind noise, squeak and rattle issues of any full-line vehicle manufacturer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. Ford brands also have higher interior quietness customer satisfaction scores than their Asian counterparts, according to the RDA Group’s Global Quality Research System. Ford’s U.S. vehicle leadership includes:

* The Ford F-150 is the top model in its segment for quietness, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. F-150 also is No. 1 in quietness customer satisfaction, according to the RDA Group.
* Flex owners are significantly more satisfied with interior quietness than the majority of owners of competing crossovers, according to J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.
* The Lincoln MKZ beats the current Lexus ES350 in key interior quietness attributes, such as road noise at 30 mph and wind noise at 80 mph, according to the RDA Group.
* Ford Escape is tied with the Honda CRV for first place in the small utility segment for interior quietness customer satisfaction, according to the RDA Group.
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