|Six IMMI Engineers Win 2009 SAE Henry Ford II Award for Premier Seat|
|Written by Ryan Gray|
|Monday, 29 March 2010 07:15|
IMMI announced that its Premier seat engineering team will receive the 2009 Henry Ford II Distinguished Award for Excellence in Automotive Engineering at the SAE World Congress next month for meshing school bus passenger safety with motorcoach comfort.
Douglas Bittner, Christopher Foye, Jeff King, David Merrick, Thomas Rumler, and Jonathan Szalai were honored for designing the first belted motorcoach seat which also increased occupant protection utilizing IMMI's SmartFrame technology that has provided compartmentalization similar to that of padded school bus bench seats since 2002. The seat, sold in partnership with American Seating, is also equipped with three-point lap/shoulder restraints. It meets FMVSS 208, 209, 210, 213, 222, and 225.
“The Henry Ford award recognition gives us another opportunity to tell our SmartFrame story in the motorcoach industry as well as the school transportation industry,” said James Johnson, director of sales at IMMI.
The Premier seat concept was developed for Greyhound Buses in the spring and early summer of 2008 at the request of Alex Cook, chief engineer at FirstGroup America, which owns Greyhound. Cook was seeking a way to improve passenger safety even as the National Transportation Safety Board was making recommendations to U.S. Department of Transportation to improve motorcoach safety.
The seat was first unveiled last January at the United Motorcoach Association EXPO, and the first orders were filled for Greyhound customers traveling New York to Montreal and New York to Toronto routes by the spring.
Foye, the IMMI team lead, said the biggest challenge was incorporating SmartFrame compartmentalization into a reclining seat.
"There was a large gap between a school bus specifically not designed for comfort but designed for safety and trying to marry the idea of comfort and safety. That was the biggest challenge,” he said.
IMMI said last year that it plans to make the Premier seat available to other motorcoach operators, and in November at NAPT it displayed the SafeGuard Premier activity seat specifically designed to increase student comfort during regional athletic, band and group trips. At the time, the company said the seat would soon be available from most school bus OEMs.
Meanwhile, Greyhound said it intends to make the Premier seat available in its entire fleet of 1,250 buses that make 13,000 daily departures to 2,300 destinations across North America.
“The IMMI engineering team created a product that benefits both our clients and consumers,” said Kevin Middleton, executive vice president of engineering and fleet at FirstGroup America. “The feedback and ideas we were able to share allowed us to develop groundbreaking seat technology that is sure to have an impact on the industry moving forward.”
Funded by the Ford Motor Company, the Henry Ford II Award began in 1989. It recognizes SAE members who use their engineering skills to achieve product or manufacturing process contributions, which are assessed to have had the greatest positive effect on the passenger car, truck and bus industries. The award usually is given to a maximum of five recipients, but IMMI appealed to SAE to make an exception this year. Foye said he wished he could share the award with the entire company.
“This is a company-wide award that embodies the best of what we can do collectively," he said of the short time line that required shifting responsibilities and resources. "Lots of people not on the list were part of team, specifically helping in all aspects of the project in manufacturing, quality assurance, purchasing and procurement. Every department in the corporation had somebody really geared towards this project.”
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 09:28|