Ford chose the MATLAB product family as their software platform to rapidly develop algorithms, acquire and analyze data, and build and deploy applications. Using MATLAB with MATLAB Compiler, they deployed their SQ metrics to different third-party analysis systems using a single version of the MATLAB source code.
Using MATLAB and MATLAB Compiler, Ford integrates with suppliers’ third-party analysis systems by generating MATLAB based DLLs. Third-party SQ analysis systems written in other languages pass signals and data among systems to the generated DLLs. Moreover, Ford used MATLAB to develop a GUI front end for the Simple Sound Quality Tool (SSQT), which they compiled with MATLAB Compiler before distributing it to their suppliers as a standalone application.
With this approach, Ford has saved up to six months in development time by avoiding the process of rewriting the MATLAB application to another language or making the application available to run outside of MATLAB. This approach also enabled them to simplify application maintenance by requiring them to only update the original MATLAB application. They distributed MATLAB based standalone application plug-ins to more than 25 worldwide suppliers, enabling them to use their third-party systems for data acquisition and to analyze data using the SSQT metrics.
Using Signal Processing Toolbox™ and Statistics and Machine Learning Toolbox™, engineers developed versions of SQ metrics for loudness, sharpness, and fluctuation strength, which objectively measure perceived volume, spectral density, and modulation. They use the metrics to evaluate the sound quality of electric motors for seats, pedals, and mirrors as well as switches, wipers, and other interior features.
Engineers also developed algorithms to process several types of time-varying sound, including wind gusting, impulsive engine noise, and spark knock, which are difficult to characterize using standard objective SQ metrics. They used MATLAB development tools and MATLAB Compiler to develop and run these sound metrics as standalone applications.
Ford also uses Data Acquisition Toolbox™ to run their spark knock detector and analyzer application in "real time." Unlike other SQ metrics that are first saved to a file and analyzed at a later time, Ford's spark knock application uses Data Acquisition Toolbox so that sound acquired from a standard PC sound card can be analyzed in MATLAB while the acquisition is still in progress. This application enables engine calibrators to detect spark knock while adjusting engine calibration
parameters. It is through advanced spark timing that Ford maximizes engine torque output and minimizes fuel consumption.
MATLAB continues to be widely used to develop Ford's SQ metrics, while MATLAB Compiler eases the process of turning these metrics into user-friendly applications.