, supplier of systems and components to automakers, has introduced its latest generation steering column control module for the Ford SuperDuty and F-150, Edge/MKX and Explorer. Why is this news, and what the heck is a steering column control module?
In the old days (the 1990s), a bunch of individual pieces were fastened to the steering column. Turn signals were a separate part from the airbag system's clockspring, which was a unique piece from the multifunction switch. Each of those bits cost something to produce and procure, not to mention the wiring required to integrate the functions into the car. Supplier problems with just one piece could idle the supply of the whole assembly for days.

Modern serial communication and control systems have created a solution for these problems, and that's the steering column control module, a single component that integrates all the functions of those many individual pieces. The amount of wiring is reduced, reliability is up thanks to new electronic techniques supplanting older wear-prone designs and with fewer contracts to secure and pieces to ship and inventory, a better per-unit cost can be negotiated. TRW's new module includes all sorts of stuff like headlamp switches, turn signals, tilt/telescope control, hazard lamps, steering angle sensor and electronic turn signal cancel, which is unique to the new Ford modules. Tuning to customer preferences reduces complaints and increases satisfaction, too. It may sound a lot more complex, putting a computerized module in place of what was once simple switches and relays, but this is a case of newer being clearly better. Full press release posted after the jump.

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TRW Launches New Turn Signal Cancellation Mechanism on Steering Column Control Modules for Ford Motor Company

LIVONIA, Mich., Jan. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (NYSE: TRW), the global leader in automotive safety, has launched its next generation Steering Column Control Modules (SCCM) on Ford Motor Company's Super Duty, F-Series, Edge, Explorer and the Lincoln MKX.

The SCCM incorporates high level electronic integration which features functions such as turn signal, headlamp switch inputs, high-low beam selector, front and rear wipe wash, pedal adjust switch, tilt-telescoping steering column switch and motor drivers, hazard warning, steering wheel switch signal processing, steering angle sensing, and the unique feature of electronic turn signal cancel.

TRW's electronic turn signal cancellation features software that can be tuned to any driving situation or customer preference and eliminates customer complaints of failure to cancel. The software based system replaces mechanical mechanisms resulting in lower cost, higher reliability, improved feel, and silent operation. When fully launched, volumes are expected to be approximately 1 million units annually.

In parallel to these launch cycles, TRW is currently developing the next successive generation of SCCM products for Ford's upcoming global vehicle line. The features and benefits of these products will be available to all vehicle manufacturers.

"These programs clearly distinguish TRW as a world leader in the Steering Column Control Module business," says Victor Peltola, sales director for TRW North America Body Control Systems. "We continue to explore ways to add further features and functions to the steering column control modules that help enhance the safety and convenience of onboard systems."

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