Plymouth, MI-- In a move designed to improve component reliability levels and end-user durability, Hella Electronics Corporation is developing intelligent systems, like the smart junction box, that will replace electro-mechanical devices and lead to cost savings of up to 20 percent.<P>Utilizing computer system integration theory, Hella is expanding on its experience in micro-controller technology with VW, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Saab and Volvo, according to Joe Borruso, president and chief executive officer of Hella North America.<P>Based on CAN-bus principles, the smart junction box replaces electro- mechanical systems consisting of switches, connectors and fuses. Combining functions for connection and distribution and utilizing micro-controllers, Hella appropriately calls them "smart.''<P>"The smart junction box solidly places Hella in a position of industry leadership,'' said Roland Franz, manager of electronic modules. "It merges control for front and rear lighting, door locks, vehicle anti-theft systems, mirror controls, windshield wipers, fuel sensors, coolant and washer fluid levels, and brake fluid pressure and temperature.''<P>Multi-use junction boxes provide automotive manufacturers with simpler, more flexible component options, especially with space being such an important consideration in today's vehicles. By combining multiple functions, vehicle designers can reduce the number of individual controllers and associated wiring.<P>Additional benefits include reduced redundancy, improved end-of-line (EOL) testing and the option for additional features. Manufacturers can realize cost savings in the range of 5-20% and considerable weight savings due to less wiring, according to Franz.<P>Responding to a customer need for multi-purpose intelligent controls, Hella first developed its smart junction box for the Mercedes-Benz 1999 C-Class and now produces 750,000 annually in Germany. The company also is developing similar production capability at its manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Michigan. The technology also is being deployed on Mercedes E-Class, SLK and Maybach models.