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Automotive Industries interviews David Stein, president and chief executive officer of the Denton Companies.

Robert A. Denton, Inc established the Ohio-based Denton ATD Inc., in July 2000 with the purchase of Applied Safety Technologies Corporation. Denton ATD, Inc. manufactures a full range of regulated and non-regulated crash test dummies and dummy laboratory certification equipment for the automotive, aerospace and transportation related industries. Robert A. Denton, Inc. has long been recognized as the world leader in the development and manufacture of load cells designed specifically for use in crash test dummies.

Denton is committed to being the global leader in the manufacture of anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs – commonly known as crash test dummies), dummy laboratory certification equipment and load cells. The mission statement on the company website states: “Our intention is to always exceed our customer’s expectations by providing the best in innovative, reliable solutions in products, systems and services. We will enhance our position as the world’s leader in the design, development and manufacturer of ATDs and related systems and services through the continuous development of our people and organization. We will continue to play a key role in the further development of safer vehicles – ultimately saving lives.”

Denton and Kayser-Threde (manufacture of the MicroDAUâ„¢ data acquisition system) – launched a new product called NxTâ„¢ which is a unique in-dummy and in-sensor data acquisition system that allows a higher level of data integrity in crash test dummies and eliminates external wire bundles. In August this year, Denton launched its RibEyeâ„¢ ATD Thorax Displacement Technology that measures linear and oblique rib displacement by using two light angle sensors and light emitting diodes.

Some of the products the company is working on include advanced sensor technology for measuring shoulder forces from seat belt loading conditions; a lightweight seat belt load cell and an advanced head form assembly with multiple load cells including the eyes. New technology for the ATDs include omni-directional necks for child dummies; SID-IIs Side Impact ATD, dummy transport/storage chairs and certification equipment for the ATDs.

Denton recently partnered with TNO Automotive Safety Solutions (TASS). According to the Denton website, this strategic move by two of the global leaders in automotive safety will result in the marriage of over 30 years of industry knowledge and experience – Denton as experts in crash test dummies and TASS as experts in virtual crash testing. The relationship aims to improve the design, quality and accuracy of ATDs and dummy laboratory certification equipment, and to design and continuously improve virtual dummies that accurately mimic the behaviour of real ATDs.

In January of this year, Denton’s German office, Denton COE GmbH, expanded their capabilities with the opening of a new Service Center in Heidelberg, Germany. The Service Center offers dummy certification, load cell calibration, accelerometer calibration (frequency and shock), potentiometer calibration, a service department for repairs, cabling, etc. and a machining department.
In November of this year, Denton will unveil a new Technical Center for North America. The facility will offer dummy certification, ATD fleet management, an ATD and instrumentation lease program, training seminars and instrumentation calibration services.

While the majority of Denton’s business comes from the automotive industry, the company also has customers in aviation, biomechanics, recreation and other science and research industries. Many of Denton’s staff are members of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and help specify the design, implementation and data analysis aspects of vehicular crash research. The company will be taking part in the SAE World Congress in Detroit in 2007.

Automotive Industries spoke to David Stein, president and chief executive officer of the Denton Companies.

AI: What products will you be highlighting at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in 2007?

That would ruin the surprise wouldn’t it? We expect to have the next generation of the RibEye ready for the show as well as a variety of new load cells and tools designed to help the safety technicians and engineers use our products more effectively.

AI: What makes Denton’s vehicle safety solutions different from others?

We at Denton don’t think of ourselves as just a supplier of dummies and load cells, we try very hard to develop a relationship with our customers where they see us as an active participant in solving their crash test dummy issues. We not only offer excellent products, we provide the support and technical knowledge to insure that our customer is confident our products will deliver viable test results.

AI: Please tell us a little bit about Denton’s load cell and force measurement devices for collision and crash impact testing and how it differs from similar products made by your competition.

Denton has been at this far longer than anybody else. Craig Morgan, our Vice Chairman and Vice President of R&D has been designing load cells for the crash environment for over 25 years. He is credited with having designed virtually every load cell used in crash test dummies today. This depth of experience enables Denton to insure that our load cells are robust enough to provide the customer reliable, accurate data for many years. We also design many load cells for unique applications. This allow our customers to do research above and beyond the required regulations.

AI: What is the importance of Denton’s RibEye ATD Thorax Displacement Technology?

RibEye is crucial to being able to track and measure rib deflection in two or three dimensions. Before RibEye, the available devices could only measure rib deflection in one dimension – and with questionable accuracy and reliability. With RibEye safety engineers will be able to track up to twelve points in three dimensional space. This is very important to understanding what happens to our ribcage in an automobile accident, in particular side impacts, and the development of an injury criteria for safety testing.

AI: What percentage of your business comes from the automotive sector and by how much is it growing?

This is an exciting time to be involved in safety testing. More than ever before the consumer is aware of, and making buying decisions based on safety ratings of an automobile. This has been a significant driver in advancing safety research. There is also the continued expansion of the auto manufacturing base as new manufacturers come on line (China for example) and existing manufacturers expand into new markets.

In addition, we are realizing there are many other places we humans are put into harms way where research using a human surrogate – a crash test dummy – can save lives. In addition to child seats which have gotten so much attention in recent years, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and the aircraft industries are all are looking at ways to improve the safe use of their products. We are also seeing increased use of dummies in the testing of military vehicles in particular protecting occupants from land mines.

In the early days of crash safety, the dummy’s primary purpose was to save lives. Today we’re doing a very good job of that. Now the dummy is being used to reduce or eliminate injury and this is a very different challenge from just determining survivability of a crash. We will continue to see new technologies, new crash test dummies and test methodologies all leading to safer use of many types of transportation – as I said, this is an exciting time to be involved in safety testing.

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