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Automating Instrument Panel

Head Impact Simulation
Mike Keranen, Srikanth Krishnaraj, Kumar Kulkarni,
Li Lu and Ravi Thyagarajan
Visteon Corporation

Velayudham Ganesan
ESI Group

2005 SAE World Congress

Detroit, Michigan
April 11-14, 2005

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Automating Instrument Panel Head Impact Simulation

Mike Keranen, Srikanth Krishnaraj, Kumar Kulkarni, Li Lu and Ravi Thyagarajan
Visteon Corporation

Velayudham Ganesan
ESI Group

Copyright © 2005 SAE International

ABSTRACT CAE simulation process. In addition this automated

head impact simulation process improves repeatability
Occupant head impact simulations on automotive of various steps involved in the manual process and
instrument panels (IP) are routinely performed as part of reduce the variability of simulation results. Result from a
an integrated design process during the course of IP case study and variability in results due to operator
development. Based on the requirements (F/CMVSS, influence is also demonstrated in this paper.
ECE), head impact zones on the IP are first established,
which are then used to determine the various “hit” It should be noted here that the process described in this
locations to be tested/analyzed. Once critical impact paper is the best interpretation that the authors have
locations are identified, CAE simulations performed arrived at based on their experience, existing
which is a repetitive process that involves computing regulations, SAE and OEM recommended practices,
impact angles, positioning the rigid head form with an and does not intend in any way purport to be the only or
assigned initial velocity and defining suitable contacts even the best way to comply with existing regulations.
within the finite element model. A commercially
available CAE process automation tool was used to REQUIREMENTS
automate these steps and generate a head impact
simulation model. Once the input model is checked for The FMVSS 201 and European (ECE–21, and EEC
errors by the automated process, it can be submitted to 74/60) regulations describe the requirements for
a solver without any user intervention for analysis and instrument panel head impact. The FMVSS 201
report generation. Apart from saving time and increasing regulation is split up into two parts, FMVSS 201 for
productivity, this approach also ensures standardization instrument panel and FMVSS 201U for upper interior
in performing head impact CAE analyses on IPs. This components. The information in this paper is only
paper describes this process automation and results relevant to instrument panel impact using a pendulum-
from a case study. type impact tester (Figure 1 shows a picture of the
impact device).
Occupant head impact simulations are a valuable tool in
the design and development of an automotive "When that area of the Instrument Panel that is within
instrument panel. This paper describes head impact the head impact area is impacted by a 6.8 Kg, 165 mm
regulation pertaining to Instrument Panels, identifying diameter head form at 19 Km/hr, the deceleration of the
head impact zones, physical testing, CAE simulation head form shall not exceed 80 g continuously for more
and CAE process automation. The manual CAE than 3 ms" (FMVSS 201 Regulation). This requirement
simulation process, apart from building the finite is for vehicles with dual airbags. The European
element model of the geometry, involves identifying the regulation states virtually the same requirement except
possible impact locations, and impact angles before the that the impact speed is 24 Km/hr. The FMVSS and
analysis. These additional steps are tedious, time European regulations do differ to some degree in the
consuming and operator dependent. This paper way they describe the setup of the impact zones and the
demonstrates that these steps can be easily automated impact angles for the points selected for test within the
which introduces standardization to the head impact impact zones. Neither of the regulations describes the
exact locations of all the impact points and it is
understood that a manufacturer is responsible for all of
the points within the impact zones. Because there are
an infinite number of impact points, it is necessary to
make judgments in deciding the worst-case points for
actual physical testing and verification.

Figure 3 Head impact zone map in plan view


The OE manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that all

points within the impact zone meet the requirement that
the deceleration of the headform of the impact device
Figure 1 IP head impact physical test set up. not exceed 80 g continuously for more than 3
milliseconds. This means that there are an infinite
HEAD IMPACT ZONES number of impact points that could be selected. It is
necessary to select a manageable number of impact
The head impact zones for the FMVSS and European points. Generally, several worst-case points are chosen
regulations differ to some extent. The major difference within the impact zone based on previous history and
is in the exemptions specified in each regulation. The experience. Then CAE analysis can be used to identify
side view of the zones as shown in Figure 2 are virtually others or reject those that exhibit results well below the
identical, the difference is only apparent in the plan view required deceleration.
(top view). FMVSS Part 571 describes the head impact
area. The Head impact area (See Figure 3) means all
non-glazed surfaces of the interior of a vehicle that are
statically contactable by a 6.5-inch diameter spherical
head form of a measuring device having a pivot point to
"top-of-head" dimension infinitely adjustable from 7.36
m to 7.4 m (29 to 33 inches).

Figure 4 Typical selection of head impact points


The FMVSS 201 regulation and the SAE Recommended

Practice describe the process of determining the
"Location and Attitude of Impact". Essentially a line is
positioned vertically at the adjusted SgRP, and rotated
Figure 2 Side view of IP impact zone setup down toward the instrument panel until contact occurs.
Then, "The intersection of the perpendicular with the
panel assembly surface is the location of the point of
impact and the direction of impact shall be taken along
this perpendicular". The SAE Recommended Practice regulatory method of computing impact angle, orienting
(See Figure 5) goes on to say, "If there is some other and positioning the finite element spherical head form to
point located along the (adjusted) H-point tangent line impact direction and setting up contact between head
such that an impact delivered to the panel at this point form and instrument panel interior. A standardized
and normal to the aforesaid line would obviously be process template (also called as process flow) was
more severe that for the point determined by either derived from this best practice. The process template
paragraphs 4.2 or 4.3, then an impact test shall also be was initially built in ESI Group’s “Process Builder”7 tool
run at this point". (SAE Recommended Practice – J921, by incorporating Visteon’s process guidelines for
dated June 1965) automation.


The process template was developed taking into

account all necessary technical details involved in the
instrument panel head impact simulation process. A
typical process template developed in EASi-
PROCESS™ is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 5 SAE recommended practice to determine

the head impact angle

The setup of the impact angle, contact between the

impact point and the sphere of the head impact device
and the trajectory of the ball make the CAE setup
manual and prone to error.


The manual process was slow, and subject to

interpretation and potential variability in computed
results. It could take a few hours for the analyst, often in
conjunction with the safety compliance engineer to
develop the impact characteristics of the simulated
impact device in the model for a single impact point.
And, if an instrument panel had the typical 12 – 15
impact points this becomes a very time consuming task
which is prone to error and operator dependent.


Figure 6 Typical process flow chart
Because of the issues described with the manual
process the team decided to develop a new automated The process was enabled with automatic and semi-
process. automatic model setup facilities to check the finite
element model quality, run the data deck to solver, post
ESI Group developed a new process tool in their process the results and generate electronic report of the
commercially available software called EASi- analysis. The analyst’s interaction with the automated
PROCESS™ to automate the instrument panel head process is to input the LS-DYNA finite element model of
impact simulation. The best CAE practice of setting up the instrument panel, the spherical head form, H-Point,
finite element model to run an instrument panel head and a table of impact points in simple ASCII format.
impact simulation was studied thoroughly with expert
analysts and experienced engineers. This included the
The software tool, for each impact point, executed the
following tasks automatically to setup the analysis:

1) determine whether the chosen impact point is

within the head impact zone;

if it is, then

2) computed the impact angle

3) positioned the head form at impact point

4) assigned initial velocity to head form

5) created LS-DYNA contacts between head form Figure 8 Comparison of results from automated and
and instrument panel interior, and among manual processes. (Please Note: Ts =
instrument panel interior components Starting time of 3ms clip, Te = Ending time
of 3ms clip)
6) created LS-DYNA input-output control cards
7) exported LS-DYNA input data and submitted to
solver 1) Various CAE analysis steps, which are currently
manual in nature, can easily be automated using
8) read LS-DYNA results files and generated existing tools.
electronic report of the analysis
2) Such automated processes ensure standardization
An automated impact angle computation for a single and minimizes analyst-induced errors.
impact point is illustrated in Figure 7.
3) Standardized CAE process increases productivity.

4) The automated process described in this paper

saves significant time (5 min vs. few hours) for each

5) This process is flexible and can be

extended/enhanced for any repetitive analysis


Figure 7 Screen dump from the process during The authors would like to thank their managers; Ken
impact angle calculation Winowiecki and Mark Turner for their continued support
and encouragement throughout the development of this
An example analysis report is included in the Appendix. process and in publishing this paper.

Figure 8 shows a comparison of head form deceleration REFERENCES

time history from an automated process and from the
manual process performed by two different operators for 1) SAE Paper # 2003-01-1175 – Interior Fittings – A
the same hit location. It can be seen that even though Global View.
the input parameters, methodology used are the same, 2) NHTSA Website –
the output results, however small, do have some 3) FMVSS 201 regulation last updated June 2002
variability. All repetitive activities of the manual 4) ECE 21 regulation dated Dec 2000
simulation process were well defined and automated in 5) 74/60 EEC, 78/632 EEC, and 2000/4/EC regulations
this study. The analyst’s interaction was minimized to dated August 2002
avoid mistakes, misinterpretations, and potential errors.
6) SAE J921, June 1965, Instrument Panel Laboratory
Impact Test Procedure
7) Fast Regulatory Methodology for Regulatory Test
Simulation, Velayudham Ganesan et al. – 8th
International LS-DYNA Users Conference.

Visteon Web Site -

ESI Website -


CAE: Computer Aided Engineering

FEA: Finite Element Analysis

FMVSS: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

H-POINT: Hip point of the occupant, the "design" H-

Point is referred to as the SgRP (Seating reference

IP: Instrument Panel

LS-DYNA 3D: High speed dynamic software package

from LSTC Corporation

NHTSA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

SAE: Society of Automotive Engineers

SgRP: Seating Reference Point, with respect to ground

(also known as the design seating reference point or
design H-point)

First Page: Shows the title, requester and analyst information


Second Page: This page shows the model, and the impact points chosen for analysis

Third Page: This page shows the headform deceleration computed from the analysis, 3ms clip value, impact
angles computed from the process and other time history data.