Automotive Engineering International Nov 2002

Intier inner door panels for Navigator/Expedition

For the 2003 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, systems integrator Intier Automotive brought together 36 separate components on each of the four inner door panels. The blue assembly frame provides 360° of freedom to enable greater manufacturing efficiencies.

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A thermoplastic hardware carrier assembly from Intier Automotive brings together 36 separate components on each of the four inner door panels of the 2003 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

"On the '02 model year, subassemblies were installed independently. For the '03 model year, it's one unit," said Don Babicz, Intier Automotive Inc.'s Program Manager for Ford Expedition/Lincoln Navigator door module. As the systems integrator, Intier oversees the installation of: window regulator assembly, inside release handle, inside release handle pull cup, latch system, outside handle to latch rod, inside handle to latch rod, speaker bracket, striker, glass attachment hardware, armrest bracket J-clips (3), wire harness fasteners (11), window regulator fasteners (4), window regulator motor bolts (3), and inside handle bolt.

"Since some of the door-to-body fasteners are already in the module, it saves Ford assembly time because the fasteners are already hand-started," said Babicz. Components are assembled at an Intier Closures Facility (Dortec plant number 1) in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, and then shipped just-in-time to Ford's truck plant in Wayne, MI. "The carrier actually can be picked up with one hand. It balances well and that was deliberate because we were very attuned to the manufacturing process, especially as it relates to loading and handling of the door module," said Steve Hartig, Intier's Business Manager of Modular Hardware Doors. (Intier does complete electrical testing on all components as well as mistake-proofing and end-of-line function checks.)

The new modular hardware design—which features an injection-molded carrier made from GE Plastics' Valox 508, a 30% glass reinforced semi-crystalline material based on polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) polymers—represents a 13-lb (5.9-kg) mass savings per vehicle when compared to the previous conventional door build for the MY2002 vehicle. Much of the mass savings results from a dual-rail drum-and-cable window regulator system versus the former arm-and-sector type. Both inside and outside handles are balanced, and latching mechanisms passed a 450-g test. "The handles are balanced to reduce the likelihood of opening during a side impact," said Babicz.

In addition to the system integrator role, Intier provides the door latches, inside handles, and window regulator rails on the unit. Module assembly mass is 12.2 lb (5.5 kg) for the front door units and 6.8 lb (3.1 kg) for the rears.

- Kami Buchholz