22nd April 2016 by Richard Yen
Following our last entry’s look back at VE Commercial Vehicles’ (VECV) first entry for the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award, this week we’re highlighting its second of four nominations which concerned the development of a commercial truck wind deflector.
The wind deflector is a plastic device that sits on top of the cabin roof and is used to reduce air drag and therefore, to maximize the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. With commercial vehicle makers joining passenger car makers in putting a focus on weight reduction, the deflector was identified as a component with high weight saving potential.
As with VECV’s previous entry, this nomination was an excellent example of the use of design optimization technology to create an improved layout that used less material, rather than just using a lighter alternative material. Utilizing optimization techniques, VECV was able to achieve a 25% weight reduction for the wind deflector when compared to the baseline design while keeping the aerodynamic performance. In addition, VECV was also able to reduce the natural frequency and improve the deflector’s stiffness.
A plastic component like the deflector, could easily have been overlooked and considered light enough already so the nomination became a great example of a company assessing all areas of a vehicle for weight savings. Approaching the weight challenge with an open mind is key to identify and maximize the potential of these ‘quick wins’ as they can soon add up to a significant amount of mass, material and cost reduction.