Customers are becoming more and more spoilt for choice in the type of seat that will support them while on the road. In order to meet the demand, auto makers are specifying seating products that incorporate heating, ventilation and support packed in a thin profile.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Grunde Engh of Kongsberg Automotive about the trends.
Engh: Modern seat design strives for light and slim solutions making packaging a challenge. KA has developed multi function comfort systems that meet future packaging challenges. The KA climate seat technology offers the unique Climate Control Unit (CCU), which regulates the seat temperature by controlling the fan speed. Seat support control functions are being integrated in the CCU.
AI: Can the control unit be integrated and does it work with different types of interfaces?
Engh: KA has developed the climate system as a combined system for both heating and ventilation. It can also be delivered as separate heating or ventilation only system. Our smart CCU is designed to be work with the car communication system (LIN bus), thus the CCU is integrated with the car computer (LIN master node), controlling seat heat and ventilation. The system can then correct for different seat designs and seat cover materials.
AI: Research reports show that sub-standard, uncomfortable lumbar support is the No.1 consumer complaint about automotive seating, and that incorrect pelvic support can cause lower back pain. What are KA solutions for minimizing bad sitting posture?
Engh: Within the seat support product range KA has developed the intelligent pneumatic control function. System pressure is continuously monitored and adjusted for optimal pelvic support.
AI: The design of the head restraint is vital in the event of an accident. How does Kongsberg Automotive target safety and comfort in that area?
Engh: KA has the ambition to develop head restraint solutions in close cooperation with customers that deliver the ultimate in comfort and passenger safety. Third party tests have rated customer car seats equipped with KA head restraints in a most favorable way. KA is also active in the development of active head restraints offering anti whiplash functions independent of seat designs.
AI: What is your philosophy on R& D?
Engh: The challenge is to reduce the total development cost and maintain a high quality at the right price by using standardized development and manufacturing processes which are subject to continuous improvements. The KA new product development programs always aim at basic, robust designs that easily adapts to other seat applications. The base technology for pneumatic seat support applications offers virtually unlimited range of flexibility that can benefit each customer’s specific needs. Competence centers close to the customer are being established to further improve communication and reduce development costs at an early stage.
AI: How close do you work with the OEM’s on developing new technology?
Engh: Lab and in car testing is a joint effort between OEM’s and suppliers. By being proactive in the early stage, large savings can be made in development and product cost. Development of new systems such as seat climate control and powered lumbar support systems are good examples of successful relationship with all parties concerned.
AI: How can seats enhance the driving experience?
Engh: By increased efforts in advanced engineering creating new comfort and safety features surpassing customer expectations with regard to quality, cost and functionality.