Saya dahulu pernah berkhidmat di syarikat kebanggaan negara iaitu Proton sejak 1995 hinggalah ke tahun 2005. Kemudian saya berhenti kerja dan menjadi jurujual kereta. Ketika di Proton, banyak jasa dan sumbangan yang saya beri demi kemajuan bangsa, agama dan negara. Di sini, disertakan petikan dari akhbar CBT di mana mereka telah menemuduga saya sebelum saya berhijrah keluar dari Proton sebagai executive. Berikut adalah petikan keseluruhan akhbar tersebut dalam bahasa Inggeris agar ini sedikit sebanyak dapat menjadi rujukan kepada generasi akan datang di dalam memastikan bangsa kita bertambah maju dan bermutu.
Deep on the surface:
AS mentioned in earlier CBT articles, it takes more than just technology to build a car. It also needs an astonishingly number of dedicated staff in Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Berhad's (PROTON) huge human resource pool.
For instance, you need dedicated staff to man a job that basically makes you sit in front of the computer for long hours. One such person is Zaidi Samsudin, a surface engineer. Zaidi, who hails from Seremban, graduated from Loughborough in UK with a mechanical engineering degree.
His work starts right after the stylists and the engineers have confirmed and fixed the clay model of the product. Using a laser digitiser, which is installed on the platform where the clay model sits on, Zaidi will convert the clay model's shape into raw three-dimensional data. What he converts is usually only 90 per cent fixed. Normally, the engineers will make additional changes, and sometimes the management will also aks for further improvement in the design.
According to Zaidi, there are about five surface engineers in PROTON. They usually need a month to convert what they see as a clay model into raw data on the computer. Zaidi's job scope also involves checking the panel gaps, shut lines and bumper lines. For instance the new GEN2 gave Zaidi one of his most challenging tasks.
"The Gen.2 did not change a lot from the initial clay model. The headlights and the grille received a few revisions and the shape of the headlights did present quite a challenge," he said.
"What had to create ribs under the front bumper to make sure there are no panel gaps between the bumper and the headlights. It was difficult but we managed." Zaidi who joined PROTON in 1997, believes that surface engineers do not really have to be car enthusiasts to be able to do the job.
"They should be good with CAD and must be able to sit in front of their computers for long stretches of time," he said.
Speaking of computers, PROTON utilises special software that is used widely in the industry. Called CATIA, it is developed by the French company, Dassault. Previously PROTON was on the MERIT system (from Mitsubishi) but changed to EUCLID (another French software) before moving on to the current software.
Sukhairul Nizam , one of the 20 design engineers in PROTON, is attached with the Vehicle Programme B Team. That means he has been working on models like the Wira, Waja and the new Gen.2. His work is mostly related to the bumper design, body kits and Body In White of the vehicle. When a vehicle comes to him, his first task is to check the packaging design.
That means making sure the cars slated for the United Kingdom will carry bumpers, licence plate area and the dimensions that comply with the UK's government stringent specifications.
Sukhairul also checks on the commonisation plan of a vehicle. Commonisation is the process of carrying over parts from the previous model to the new one in order to achieve better cost efficiencies.
All car manufacturers do the same practice and a good commonisation plan will have the end-users not even realising that there are carry-over parts in the new vehicle.
Thanks to Sukhairul , the company can also get its estimation BOM (Bill of Material) cost of a new car. If the cost exceeds the planned budget, it is up to the design engineers to find ways to trim it to the desired level.
While doing all this work, Sukhairul has already started sifting through the list of vendors for his bumpers or body kits. Vendors are chosen based on their previous performance, equipment (inspection jig and assembly jig) and technology used (mould maker system and warranty of the mould).
Parts will be tested by either PROTON or by the vendors, and sometimes by both parties. Design engineers will determine the material used and the thickness of the components. Proton car bumpers for example, have the same thickness as other cars sold in Malaysia.
In terms of aerodynamics, even body kits are put to wind tunnel testing. Wind tunnel testing can be done locally at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) campus in Skudai but only with a half-scale models. Full sized model testing will be done in MIRA of UK or in Volvo's wind tunnel in Sweden.
One of the results that end users benefit from such costly testing is the fins found at the leading edge of the Gen2's wing mirrors. The fins deflect the air so that rainwater does not swirl around behind the wing mirror, a problem encountered in the Waja.
The GEN.2 also has respectable Cd figures, 0.33 Cd without the spoiler and lower with a boot lid spoiler added on. PROTON's body kits are designed by the stylist, who later passes it on to the design engineers. They will then put the designs through several tests (which include wind tunnel testing) and finally determine the material to be used and also the vendor capable of producing such a component.
PROTON prefers using plastic for its bodykits. Fibreglass, according Sukhairul , is difficult to gauge in terms of weakness points and has too much variance of tolerance. Plastic therefore is better for mass production and has a higher quality.
Sukhairul , who has a degree in aeronautical engineering, started out in PROTON at a time when the company was designing the Iswara. By the way, he was the first Malaysian to buy the GEN2 fresh from the factory.
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