JASON GRIFFIN: SEEKING THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE BY MINIMIZING AIR LEAKAGE IN ALL-NEW FORD EXPLORER
Jason Griffin, Airleakage NVH Engineer
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To understand the critical role Jason Griffin plays in helping reduce powertrain, road and wind noise inside the all-new Ford Explorer, imagine him in a laboratory smock crawling around inside a sealed, pressurized vehicle body. Using calibrated measurement tools – and his own sensitive ears – Griffin listens for air leaks.
Meeting stringent air leak targets early in the vehicle development process is a key quality barometer.
“My objective is to eliminate the potential for unwanted vehicle noise by ensuring the passenger cabin is effectively sealed,” said Griffin. “A tightly sealed passenger cabin greatly reduces intrusive noise from a variety of possible sources. Significantly reducing air leakage in the all-new Explorer helps deliver the quiet ride today’s SUV customers expect and deserve.”
Eliminating air leakage begins with design checks while the vehicle is in its virtual realm, and then continues with physical validation tests after the body has been built. Engineers seal up the shell of the vehicle after it has been painted, securing Plexiglas coverings over the openings. Using the air leakage machine, they are then able to either pressurize or pull a vacuum in the cabin. They crawl through the cabin using tools like a stethoscope and a mini-camera on a cord, which allows them to examine spaces otherwise inaccessible.
The team even has developed an innovative new weapon in its arsenal against air leakage –thermal camera photography teamed with heated air, which allows engineers to determine exactly where the air leakage is occurring.
“Typically, we would pump air into or evacuate air out of the vehicle, and then listen for air coming in or out, and that’s how we detect the issues,” Griffin said. “But recently we devised a method where we can heat the air, so when it blows out, it heats up the sheet metal where it’s leaking from, and we can use a thermal camera to see the leak.”
Engineers also perform air leakage tests on vehicles in their finished state with all the interior, exterior, chassis and powertrain components installed to further ensure a quiet ride for customers.
“We’ll use all the tools at our disposal to make sure we have a tightly sealed passenger cabin,” Griffin said.
Griffin, a Detroit-area native, believes the improved product development processes are a big reason why the new Explorer has been largely free of air leakage issues.
“Our new processes enable us to detect a lot of the issues prior to prototype fabrication and physical vehicle testing,” Griffin said. “We eliminated potential air leak issues in CAD, prior to building a physical body. The team is very pleased with Explorer air leakage control. We think customers will be pleased, too.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Griffin is married with two children
- Away from his automotive engineering career, Griffin enjoys boating, fishing and home-improvement projects
- Griffin spent a semester abroad during his senior year at Michigan State University, visiting 17 countries from his European base in Aachen, Germany. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State and a master’s degree from University of Michigan-Dearborn
- Prior to joining Ford, Griffin spent two summers serving internships with the company. He’s been with Ford for nine years
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010 , and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com .
July 1, 2010