The “Body Shop in Reverse” of Emergency Extrication

When it comes to automotive steel, two groups of experts are working together to enhance the state of the art for driver and passenger safety. Both emergency first responders and auto body repair professionals respect and value how modern automotive advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) and ultra high-strength steels (UHSS) have improved the safety of today’s cars and trucks.

Technological advances in steels and design have made vehicles safer in a collision. They have also changed many of the long-standing techniques and practices for fire and rescue professionals who save lives at accident sites, as well as the body shop personnel who ensure vehicles are safely repaired before getting back on the road. This can range from changes in strategy to entire new toolkits. Both body shops and first responders have had to upgrade their tools to handle AHSS and UHSS. This can include reciprocating saws, air chisels and hydraulic rams, spreaders and shears.

“Over the last decade, rescue tool manufacturers recognized what was going on with high-strength steels,” explains Ron Moore, a former battalion chief in a suburban Dallas-Fort Worth fire department and nationally-recognized expert on extrication. “Starting around 2008 or 2009, they began to produce a whole new generation of more powerful tools and new designs. Pretty much every fire department has traded in their older-generation gear, which usually dated back to the 80s or 90s but had since been outgunned by high-strength steels.”

SMDI works with Moore, who authored the widely used textbook, “Vehicle Rescue and Extrication,” to get the best perspective on how AHSS and UHSS are changing the way rescue personnel interact with vehicles when extrication is necessary. Moore trains fire, rescue, EMS and law enforcement personnel across the nation on how to safely rescue and extricate drivers and passengers from vehicles of all kinds. He’s also shared his expertise with automotive repair personnel, explaining how emergency personnel operate an impromptu “body shop in reverse” on the side of the road in an emergency situation.

Ron-Moore

Ron Moore

The basics of extrication are a constant, Moore explains. Rescue personnel need access to the people inside the vehicle, room to work on them in place, if necessary, and a path for safe removal of all involved. This can range from the standard “door job,” as taking a door off the car is known in the fire rescue community, to removing instrument panels, roofs or pillars, forcing compartments open and more.

Where there has been crushing, bending or folding of vehicle structures, putting occupants at risk, rescue personnel can either move or remove those parts of the vehicle based on the requirements of the specific situation. The materials involved factor into this decision on the scene, as some tactics such as door frame spreading with a portable hydraulic ram, which worked in the past with traditional steel body structures, may fail when AHSS or UHSS are involved.

Tougher Vehicles, Tougher Opponents

In general, Moore calls modern AHSS-intensive vehicles a “tougher opponent” for rescue personnel thanks to the strength of the materials they’re now working against, often in a race against the clock. While the increasing crashworthiness of vehicles means fewer extrication jobs, the new strength of the materials they’re modifying means, “when they are trapped, we have more work to do,” explains Moore.

“It’s becoming the norm for side-impact collisions with people trapped inside to remove the B-pillar altogether, and increasingly we’re ‘making the car a convertible’ by taking off the roof,” he explains. In the past, spreaders could move B-pillars far enough out of the way for most access needs, but the strength built into modern AHSS-intensive B-pillars means they are so hard to bend out of the way rescuers find it easier to cut through three sides and then use a spreader to bend it out of the way, if not remove it entirely.

2018-Honda-Odyssey

High-strength steel and advanced high-strength steel are used in the 2018 Honda Odyssey’s A, B and C-pillars, roof rails, front and rear rails and front subframe, allowing the vehicle’s cabin structure to better manage front, side, roof and rear collisions.

Additionally, many traditional techniques involved “crush-then-cut” of stamped steel components. With the advent of AHSS, crushing became so difficult to accomplish, techniques evolved to rely more on cutting through AHSS and UHSS assemblies which were designed to ensure occupant safety by resisting crushing-type forces.

Moore expects extrication will continue to evolve as UHSS become more common, which means repairing vehicles from extrication will continue to be more complicated. “The first-generation AHSS didn’t fight us the way third-generation AHSS does,” he says. “We’re up against a tougher opponent, one that often requires more extensive work. For instance, we’re finding that cutting is often necessary where spreading had been sufficient in the past.”

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The new 2019 Ram is the strongest 1500 to date, featuring 54 percent high-strength steel in the cab and more than 98 percent high-strength steel in the frame. The use of high-strength steel in the frame enables noise-, vibration- and harshness (NVH) reduction measures, weight savings of nearly 225 pounds and greater rigidity for improved handling and durability.

Worth the Work

According to Moore, emergency personnel appreciate the value of modern steels and often seek out AHSS-intensive vehicles for their own families. This is because fire departments are increasingly arriving at crash scenes where, in his words, “The cars are bent, crumpled and folded and we expect the worst, but the drivers are standing outside exchanging insurance information because the structure of the vehicle remained intact.”

 

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Steel Took Center Stage at the 2018 Lightweighting World Expo

The inaugural Lightweighting World Expo took place Oct. 9-10 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. The event was sponsored by Lightweighting World magazine, a resource for the latest technical breakthroughs, applications, trends and initiatives for lightweight vehicle development.

Dr. Jody N. Hall, vice president, automotive market for SMDI, was invited to give the keynote address on the second day of the expo. In her presentation, titled “The Strength of Steel in the Automotive Market,” Dr. Hall discussed steel’s evolution in the automotive industry, collaboration between steel companies and automakers, steel’s role in future mobility and more.

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Dr. Hall started off by “taking a drive down memory lane,” illustrating how the materials used in vehicles have evolved over time. In 1930, car companies began replacing wood body structures with all-steel bodies. She shared an excerpt from CARS magazine published in 1953:

“The day of the passenger car made primarily of iron and steel is on the wane! Some sources predict that by 1960 a Cadillac will weigh less than a 1953 Chevrolet and a Chevy will probably weigh about as much as a motorcycle.”

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She went on to talk about the tremendous innovation in steel as a result of the collaboration within the automotive industry, giving way to more than 200 grades of steel today.

Diving further into the benefits of collaboration, Dr. Hal specifically highlighted World Auto Steel and the AISI/SMDI Auto/Steel Partnership as leading excellent examples how  steel companies and automakers to achieve a mutually beneficial goal and provide outstanding research and innovation. The projects they have completed have revolutionized the industry, such as the FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) project completed by an alliance of steel companies from around the world. The findings and results were implemented by many automakers just three years after completion of the project – the short timeline is proof collaboration leads to success.

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Dr. Hall wrapped up by addressing the many benefits steel will have in future autonomous and electric vehicles. Its inherent properties, excellent performance and high value will allow it to continue to deliver the following to future vehicles:

  • Safety
  • Design
  • Fuel Efficiency/Battery Range
  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Environmental Performance
  • Value

Dr. Hall’s complete presentation can be downloaded here.

Were you in attendance at the Lightweighting World Expo? Comment below on your favorite part of the inaugural event!

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Get Ready for Winter Driving During Fall Car Care Month

Autumn is a time when we prepare for the cold winter to come. To keep yourself safe and comfortable on the road this winter, take some time to make sure your car, truck or SUV is ready for the challenges it will face in the months ahead.

With more than 200 grades of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) available to automakers, they can use the right grade in the right application for exceptional occupant protection and durability, but continued maintenance is still critical.

What maintenance have you been putting off? Are your brakes starting to squeal every now and then? Do you have a taillight out, or maybe your headlight covers are scratched or foggy enough to notice a difference at night? Do you need new tires, “one of these days?”

Now is the time to handle deferred maintenance, before you find yourself on the side of a snowy road, wishing you’d taken care of it earlier.

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Think Ahead

You may not even know what you’ve been putting off longer than you should, so check your owner’s manual for recommended service intervals. You may be conscientious about your oil changes, but what about items such as air filters, oxygen sensors, power steering fluid and other, longer-interval maintenance requirements?

As the grades of AHSS have evolved over the decades, it is being used more frequently in chassis and suspension applications, aiding in vehicle handling capabilities. When was the last time you had your suspension and alignment checked? If possible, combine it with a tire safety check and rotation. During winter months, all of these contribute to critical handling capabilities.

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Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full, so you don’t find yourself peering out a frozen windshield during a surprise storm.

As long as you’re thinking about your windshield, it’s probably been a while since you replaced your wiper blades, which are often recommended to replace every six months. Make sure you get the correct ones for your vehicle; not all wiper blades are sized and shaped the same.

Is your battery ready for winter? Check your owner’s manual for maintenance instructions, especially if it’s more than five years old. Temperature impacts how well batteries work, and a battery that functioned perfectly all summer long can fail suddenly in cold weather.

If you don’t already, start getting in the habit of filling up your gas tank at half-full or earlier rather than when it nears empty. While running out of gas is a serious inconvenience in nice weather, it can be much more dangerous in cold winter months.

Always Be Prepared

Make sure you have a winter emergency kit in the car. Keep it in the passenger compartment in case your trunk becomes frozen or jammed. Think about what you’d need to be safe and comfortable if you got stuck for eight hours with no assistance available, and pack accordingly. Some recommendations include:

  • Shovel – Folding camping shovels work well
  • Gloves, hats, socks and other practical warm clothing
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Battery-powered phone charger with correct cables
  • Water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Flares and/or emergency signal lights
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Booster cables
  • Rope or chain for towing
  • Salt, sand or cat litter to provide traction

As always, your dealership or local certified car care professional can help you make sure your vehicle is ready to handle the challenges of winter travel.

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Tell us in the comments below – how do you prepare your car for winter driving?

 

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More Than MPG: Demand Drives Innovation in the Steel Industry

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The 2018 Honda Odyssey utilizes 8 percent ultra high-strength steel

Over the past decade, automakers turned to advanced high-strength steels to continue meeting consumer demands while complying with tightening regulatory requirements. In the years to come, the innovative partnership between automakers and steelmakers will continue to pay off for consumers as high-tech and high-performance steels make their cars, trucks and SUVs more powerful, efficient and reliable.

According to market research firm Ducker Worldwide, the average vehicle has swapped out traditional flat-rolled steels for modern advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) and next-generation ultra high-strength steels (UHSS). Most automakers started this process because of the demands of lightweighting, recognizing they could meet performance requirements with less material by evolving from traditional steel to stronger AHSS.

In recent years, consumers and regulators asked manufacturers not only to make their vehicles more mass efficient but also simultaneously safer. Automakers needed stronger materials than before to meet these requirements, and the steel industry’s innovators responded with steels of unprecedented capabilities.

In the process of using AHSS and UHSS to design for mass efficiency and safety, automakers also realized they could apply these same qualities to meet other consumer wants and needs. For instance, designers can make the structural “pillars” at the edges of windshields, windows and doors thinner than ever before. This means new opportunities for creative design, and also improved driver sightlines reducing dangerous blind spots.

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Truck manufacturers were among the first to turn to AHSS for the key frame components on which the rest of the truck is built. While this began as a lightweighting tactic, manufacturers quickly realized strengthening the backbone of their trucks meant they could increase performance in cargo capacity, towing and other key performance metrics demanded by pickup consumers.

When it comes to a vehicle’s overall environmental impact, consumers and manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated at assessing their vehicle’s ecological footprint over its entire lifetime. Most of the steel in modern vehicles is already produced from recycled content. Its complete recyclability and associated lower lifecycle environmental cost over other materials make it even more attractive as environmental assessments become more comprehensive.

The continued spread of AHSS throughout vehicles, along with the increasing usage of next-generation high-tech UHSS grades, means consumers will continue to see improved performance from their vehicles driven by steel. Ducker Worldwide’s research reports automakers will use more and more, about 30 pounds more each year on the average vehicle between 2019 and 2025, with new UHSS grades becoming increasingly common as automakers come to rely on them to meet global vehicle standards.

What does this mean for the average person? While we can’t predict exactly what advances in self-driving vehicle capabilities and electric powertrains might mean for the vehicles of tomorrow, we can predict with confidence they will be safer, stronger, more mass efficient and more reliable thanks to advanced high-strength steel.

What advancements do you look forward to in the automotive industry? Increased safety, autonomous vehicles? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Future of Autonomous Vehicles Depends on Steel

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Autonomous vehicles are coming. While we don’t know what they’ll look like or what final form the various control technologies will take, the one thing we know for certain is these future vehicles will depend on high-strength steel.

Automakers are in the business of delivering what people want and, as new research shows, Americans want their vehicles made of steel. Only 10 percent of consumers believe aluminum is as durable or as strong as steel, or that it protects their family as well as steel. More than half perceive steel as the most important material for the vehicle’s frame.

Existing trends demonstrate future vehicles will increasingly be built with advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), with tensile strength over 500 MPa, and ultra high-strength steel (UHSS), with tensile strength over 1000 MPa. Notably, while only 17 percent of consumers today are aware of AHSS, researchers found when they’re educated about its unbeatable mix of weight, strength and sustainability; they strongly prefer it over alternative materials such as aluminum for all their vehicle’s components.

Give the People What They Want

Various factors come into the decision-making process for vehicle purchase, including the potential impact of sharing autonomous vehicles. The average personally-owned vehicle sits in a garage or parking lot for most of the day and night while its owner is home, at work or even asleep. Proposed shared autonomous vehicles currently under development will spend a much larger percentage of their time on the road, meaning replacement will be more frequent, and thus, end-of-life and easy recyclability will be more important. For the best end of lifecycle process, designing with steel is important because it is 100 percent recyclable versus harder-to-salvage alternative materials. This also leverages steel’s existing lower total life cycle carbon footprint than alternative materials, which create greenhouse gas emissions four to 20 times greater than steel during production.

Automakers trying to attract individual and fleet consumers who may already have safety concerns about autonomous vehicles can find solutions in steel’s inherent strength and durability. As we’ve noted before, automotive manufacturers looking at the design challenges and opportunities of an autonomous future know steel is a critical component of safety, cabin design, price and other key factors. This means the ongoing shift in today’s cars, trucks and SUVs from traditional steel to AHSS and UHSS will continue into the autonomous vehicles of the future.

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Tomorrow’s Steel for Tomorrow’s Vehicles

This shift from traditional flat-rolled steel to high-strength and low-weight AHSS and UHSS is already happening industry-wide. Market research firm Ducker Worldwide says over the past five years, the average vehicle cut 55 pounds in weight by upgrading to newer steel grades. While the average vehicle now has 329 pounds of high-strength steel, market researchers expect it to grow to 570 pounds by 2025 when autonomous vehicles are expected to be more common on American roads.

This is also right around the time when UHSS is expected to surpass AHSS in vehicle content. This is a sign of the degree to which materials innovation is keeping pace with, or even exceeding, higher-profile innovation in vehicle sensors and software. The North American steel industry is constantly working to develop higher-value, lightweight materials such as our strongest and most formable 3rd-Gen AHSS to meet automakers’ needs and deliver on the trust consumers place in steel to keep them safe and secure, no matter who – or what – is at the wheel.

Where do you think tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles will benefit most from high-tech steel? Let us know in the comments below!

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American Truck Buyers: Make Mine Steel

Generic silver pickup truck

Americans demand a lot from their trucks, and truck manufacturers depend on steel to deliver on their consumers’ performance, safety, durability, price and fuel efficiency requirements. While truck, car and SUV drivers all appreciate a ride made from steel, Americans in the market for a truck are the most likely to prefer key vehicle components to be made from steel. It makes up a big part of their purchase decision because they know only steel can make their truck the best it can be.

This preference for steel among truck owners and shoppers was one of the key findings from a new national study we commissioned through quantitative research firm Lab42. The researchers looked at what Americans think about the materials in their cars, trucks and SUVs and how much those factor into their decision about what to buy at the dealership.

Truck Drivers Want Steel Trucks

One notable finding is 58 percent of truck buyers think it’s important to have their truck’s frame and structure made from steel. That’s a higher importance rank than commonly-advertised truck attributes such as accessory options and towing capacity.

So why do Americans think steel is more important than how much their truck can tow or what accessories they can get? For one thing, they don’t trust the other options, especially aluminum. An overwhelming majority of surveyed consumers do not believe aluminum is as durable (87 percent), strong (90 percent) or safe (91 percent) as steel.

They also know from experience steel delivers on the things they care most about when it comes to their truck, including price, safety, cabin and payload size, fuel efficiency, body design, performance and durability. All of these factors benefit from steel’s unique combination of strength, formability, weight, sustainability and price.

Great New Steels Mean Great New Trucks

While truck buyers love steel, they especially love what today’s high-tech steels can do for their trucks. This is why manufacturers are increasingly turning to advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) and ultra high-strength steel (UHSS) to make iconic trucks better than ever before.

The unmatched combination of strength, rigidity and formability provided by AHSS and UHSS lets truck designers build tougher, stronger and lighter trucks. These exceptional new steels allow designers to thin cabin pillars, making truck interiors more spacious while minimizing blind spots. They make trucks lighter and stronger at the same time, improving fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance. They also make huge contributions to safety, enabling designs and systems to keep occupants safe in head-on, side-impact and rollover crashes.

Americans love their trucks, and they demand a lot from them. When it comes to strength, safety, performance, durability, economy and sustainability, truck owners trust steel to get the job done.

Own a truck? Tell us in the comments below what’s most important to you.

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Five Years Later – Consumers Still Prefer Steel

Five years ago, an announcement was made sparking a materials debate across the automotive industry. With one of the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. becoming aluminum intensive, we wanted to know what the everyday driver thought about materials used in their truck or SUV. So, back in 2013, we launched a survey to gauge awareness and preference for automotive materials among consumers.

In that first survey, 75% of consumers preferred steel and understood its high correlation to the safety of their vehicle. Consumers highly associated steel with strength and better protection for their family when directly compared to aluminum. Additionally, 50% of the total audience ranked type of material for their vehicle’s frame or body as an extremely important decision-making factor when choosing a truck or SUV to buy or lease. When consumers were informed automakers were replacing steel with aluminum, respondents weren’t very happy with the choice, with more than 47% declaring they had a negative reaction.

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Five years have passed since the initial survey and with consumers favoring trucks and SUVs again, as well as recent fuel economy debates, we decided it was time to see if their preferences have changed. In April 2018 we replicated the survey with the addition of sedan owners and intenders. What we learned is impressive! Ninety percent of consumers believe steel is stronger and more durable than aluminum, and advanced high-strength steel remains the preferred material for a vehicle’s frame for 92% of those surveyed.

Most important? Aluminum is a deal breaker with consumers. More than half of consumers claim replacing steel with aluminum will negatively impact their opinion of an automaker. And, if an automaker did replace steel with aluminum, more than 40% of those surveyed would be less likely to buy or lease from that manufacturer.

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In fact, steel plays a critical role in more than half of the top ten decision making criteria consumers noted when they are looking to buy or lease a new vehicle:

  1. Safety: Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) and ultra high-strength steel (UHSS) give automakers exceptional high strength grades to efficiently design strong, rigid passenger compartments to prevent intrusion while minimizing blind spots for the driver. Additional grades provide a combination of high strength and energy absorption to help manage front- and rear-end collisions.
  2. Price: Steel-intensive body structures and closures offer the most cost-effective solutions to automakers thus translating to cost savings for consumers.
  3. Interior Roominess: The efficient design of the passenger compartment with steel allows for roomier interiors.
  4. Appealing Physical Design: Steel’s formability allows designers options for more shape in vehicles as compared with aluminum alloys.
  5. Vehicle Test Result Reviews: Steel’s properties contribute to ride and handling and durability which results in overall exceptional vehicle performance.
  6. Fuel Efficiency: Steel’s high strength, and thus lightweighting contribution to vehicles, increases fuel economy.

Five model years, a changing automotive landscape, development of autonomous vehicles and so much more all took place between surveys and yet consumer preferences for vehicle materials are unchanged. As you look to purchase or lease a new vehicle, don’t forget about the high value steel provides. Tell us in the comments below: what do you consider when looking for a new car, truck or SUV?

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Taking the Safe Route

“Strap, secure, go,” may seem like a simple way to get your car ready for a long journey or quick trip this summer; however, there are a few more crucial steps to successfully baby- or child-proof your vehicle. With family vacations, trips to the local ice cream shop and daily outings quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to brush up on car safety tips.

Do Your Research
First and foremost, do your research on car seats. This includes ensuring the seat is federally approved, knowing specific age- and size-appropriate seat recommendations for your child, proper installation and which position is the safest to face. The American Academy of Pediatrics states all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat. To see which type of car seat is recommended for your child’s age, height and weight, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Designate a Spot for Your Keys
It may feel like common sense, but oftentimes we forget how easy it is to leave car keys laying around. Make sure to never leave your keys in or around your car, or in reach of children. Kids look up to their parents as role models and pick up on their actions. You never know when they’ll play “grown-up” and try to actually start the car. To avoid any problems or accidents, keep your car locked at all times and have a designated safe spot for your keys.

Lock It Up
Lock it up in general. Whether it’s a window lock or rear door lock, utilize every child lock available in your vehicle. Window locks prevent distractions, such as siblings arguing if the window should be up or down. They also remove the possibility of anything getting stuck in the window. Read your car manual instructions to enable rear door child locks, especially if your child is within reach of the lock.

Look Both Ways, Twice
In the average week, 50 children in the United States are injured from being backed over by a vehicle. Back overs typically occur in parking lots or driveways and can be fatal. Lemonade stands, hide-and-seek and driveway basketball games put children at a higher risk during the summer months. Children may not understand the potential danger of a vehicle or how blind spots work. Even with backup cameras, you can never be too cautious. When putting your car in reverse, you should always be 100 percent conscious of your surroundings, after all children are constantly on the move.

Keep It Clean
Keeping your car as clean as possible is another way to ensure car safety. The less clutter there is, the clearer your mind will be. After cleaning, do not leave cleaning supplies in your car that could be toxic to children. Items that may not seem like a danger to you can be hazardous to children. Remember to store potentially dangerous items such as tools, wiper fluid, motor oil and medications in a secure spot. Fastening vacant seat belts with the switchable locking retractor is beneficial, as unused seat belts may pose a strangulation risk.

Rest Assured
Today there are more than 200 grades of steel available to automakers, allowing engineers to apply the right grade in the right location for exceptional occupant protection, durability and crash energy management. Rest assured, you can feel protected when driving your kids around town as a result of innovative steel solutions used throughout your vehicle.

Never Leave Your Child Alone
Whether it’s the middle of winter or the peak of summer, never leave your child alone in a vehicle. The temperature in a car rises rapidly, even on cool days. Leaving a window down does not allow for adequate air circulation. Heat stroke happens quickly, so a child should never be left alone in a car. Running a quick errand is not worth risking a child’s life.

Be Aware
Always being aware is the key to car safety and your child’s safety is clearly the number one priority. Even in a parking lot or when crossing the road, you should always be alert. Properly educating children on car safety promotes precautionary measures. When gearing up for a family vacation this summer, don’t just “strap, secure, go.” Take the safe route with our car safety tips!

Did we miss something? Let us know your babyproofing tips in the comments below!

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Steel Shines Once Again at Great Designs in Steel 2018

Another Great Designs in Steel (GDIS) seminar is in the books! Steelmakers, automakers, suppliers, engineering firms and more came together on May 16 for the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) annual conference in Livonia, Michigan. The symposium allows the steel and automotive industries the opportunity to present their research and network. With hot-button topics such as lightweighting and life cycle assessment slated for discussion, it’s no surprise the 17th annual event set a new record for registrations. Twenty-five percent of more than 1,700 registrants were there for the first time – and there’s a good chance they’ll be back!

Held at the Laurel Manor Conference Center since its inception in 2002, GDIS provides a platform for steelmakers and automakers alike to showcase technical presentations on new steel technologies. These include advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), lightweighting, automotive safety and manufacturing technologies for today’s vehicles. Attendees always leave with a greater understanding of where the industry is headed. This year was no different, as automakers (FCA US LLC, General Motors Company and Honda) graced the stage with SMDI members and a host of other organizations in the steel and automotive industries.

This year’s event began with a host of steel dignitaries sharing important information. Nucor Chairman, CEO and President John Ferriola held a fireside chat with local Detroit TV personality Andrew Humphrey about the state of the modern steel industry. SMDI Senior Director Dave Anderson presented Nic Goldsberry of Honda with the 2018 Automotive Excellence Award. SMDI Vice President Jody Hall then keynoted the conference by unveiling a comprehensive study comparing the life cycle assessments of vehicles lightweighted with both AHSS and aluminum. The presentation, showing AHSS’ clear advantage, laid the foundation for a day filled with in-depth demonstrations of steel’s superior performance, value and sustainability as well as its latest technical advancements.

Steel’s status as the best lightweighting material available to the automotive industry was validated by the vehicle-specific presentations given by engineers from automotive manufacturers. General Motors showcased its AHSS technologies in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, while rival FCA US LLC teamed up with Gestamp to demonstrate the 2019 Ram 1500’s innovative high-strength steel door ring. Honda’s Acura division presented two vehicles, showing off its door ring design in the 2019 Acura RDX and a new technique used to create the NSX supercar’s A-pillar. When all was said and done, more than 30 presenters helped drive the steel and automotive industries forward in their own way.

Beyond the stage, two different areas gave various organizations the ability to share important information about their products and teams. The Steel Showcase served as a display of the research and collaboration happening among SMDI members – AK Steel Corporation, Algoma, ArcelorMittal and Nucor Corporation – and other players in the steel industry. The Exhibit Hall allowed automakers and suppliers alike to showcase the best of what they have to offer, including the body-in-white displays of the Honda Odyssey, BMW 3-Series and Chevrolet Silverado.

The event made a lasting mark on the automotive industry. We can’t wait to see what kind of innovation comes out of the event!

What design innovations are you most looking forward to in future vehicles? Comment below.

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Shaping the Automotive Industry – Many Women at a Time

As an important part of the global economy, many people look to the automotive industry as a trendsetter in the worldwide workplace. With women like Mary Barra paving the way, it’s refreshing to see so many female faces making their way into leadership roles within the automotive industry.

Historically, the automotive and steel industries have been male-dominated. It didn’t change much until World War II, when Rosie the Riveter told American women they were capable of holding their own, women began to expand their roles outside the home. Once the war was over, many of those women left their jobs. However, some stayed in the workplace and the idea of women working alongside men began to gain acceptance.

Fast-forward to today, women are rubbing elbows with men whether it’s in management, distribution or factories more than ever. Women were once again celebrated at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show’s second-annual What Drives Her networking luncheon and panel discussion, presented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Scotty Reiss, founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, kicked off a two-part panel discussion featuring Cars.com Editor-in-Chief, Jennifer Newman; Facebook’s Industry Manager, Auto Team, Kim Stonehouse; Ford’s Mini and Medium Utility Marketing Manager, Cristina Aquino; and Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Vice President, Automotive Market, Dr. Jody Hall.

Panelists touched on the importance of women holding leadership positions, the increasing role women play in shaping the industry and women leading the charge to close gender and inequality gaps in business and everyday life.

Watch the full panel discussion on Facebook live.

During the panel discussion, Jody Hall shared she spent 30 years working in the automotive industry and has faced many obstacles influencing her career. During this time, she witnessed the evolution of women leading companies and serving in leadership roles. In her current role as vice president of the automotive market for the SMDI, Jody continues to influence and empower young women in the automotive and steel industries.

According to statistics presented by moderator Scotty Reiss from A Girls Guide to Cars:

  • Women buy or influence the purchase of 85% of all cars, yet they hold only about 27% of all the jobs in the auto industry;
  • Women who work in auto businesses have an 80% job turnover rate and most of that happens in the first month on the job; and,
  • Women hold more drivers’ licenses and master’s degrees than men.

Thus, it’s no surprise there are thousands of women impacting today’s automotive and steel industries, showcasing their ability to balancing work and continue to support their communities and family.

Do you know any women who are making an impact in the steel and/or automotive industries? Why are these women inspirational to you? Leave us a comment below.

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