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From 2000 through 2008 Henk Helleman was Manager of Restraint Systems Research for the Global Takata R&D organization at the Automotive Systems Laboratory. In this position he advanced the development technology of automotive safety systems by combining his knowledge of Computer hard- and software with that of restraint systems. New devices, tools, systems, models and methods were created for innovative, and cost saving solutions.
Between 1998 and 2000 Henk was acting Engineering Manager consulting to Automotive Technologies International, Inc., responsible for the engineering of the next generation vehicle occupant protection solutions. Working with a diverse group of scientists, engineers, and technicians, the latest inventions were developed into innovative products, ready for market implementation.
Prior to 1998 Henk was Manager of Restraint Systems Engineering for the Lakeland, Fl. Airbag Systems manufacturer BREED Technologies, Inc. (now Joyson Safety Systems).
He joined BREED at the beginning of 1995 to provide the company with much needed expertise in the field of occupant simulation analysis. In those three years he managed to grow the simulation activities from a one man operation into a systems analysis group comprising five engineers. Under his leadership simulation analysis has been applied to a wide variety of subjects ranging from advanced R&D to inflator development and production support.
Henk Helleman has over 30 years experience designing and analyzing vehicle restraint systems (belts, airbags) using computer simulations and (crash) testing. This experience was used to the fullest for the development of the second and third generation vehicle passive restraint systems that increase the level of protection while reducing the chance of airbag induced injury.
Before joining BREED he worked for five years for the TNO Road-Vehicles Research Institute as a Research Engineer. In that function he pioneered Multi-Body structural analysis, engineered the MADYMO finite element airbag module, developed databases for three major crash dummies, and researched numerical models for foam padding materials.
Throughout the years he has been involved in the development of vehicle occupant restraint systems for a number of different vehicles and manufacturers, either as a training consultant or as a consulting engineer. Time not spent behind the computer was spent in the crash laboratory. The vehicles ranged from everyday cars such as the Fiat Tipo and the Hyundai Elantra to exotics like the Bugatti EB110 and concept vehicles such as the Volvo SCC.
That the same principles and methods, used for vehicle safety restraint development, could also be used for Aircraft Crashworthiness Analysis was shown in a 1993/94 European Research programme titled "Crashworthiness for Commercial Aircraft". Computer simulation models were used to analyze the forces on occupants, seat frame and floor structure during a crash landing. The programme has let to front row seats being installed further away from the cabin bulk heads.
Prior to his involvement with occupant safety and vehicle crashworthiness, Henk worked on
fibre composite materials research for the
TNO Plastics and Rubber Research Institute.
He started in 1985 as a product development engineer for autoclaved and filament wound specialty products. As part of this work he developed software to calculate the geodesic path over complex surfaces, necessary for the fabrication of more complex filament wound products on a 5-axis CNC filament winder.
After two years his work was broadened to include structural analysis of rubber and fibre composite products and components. The spread of products ranged from modular wine cellars, above and underground fuel storage tanks, and pressure vessels to satellite components, ultra centrifuges and nuclear reactor seals. These geometrical and material non-linear analyses were conducted with the finite element solvers DIANA and MARC. That too, was when he took control of a Unix system for the first time. A sweet little Motorola 68000 system with VME bus, named GEMINIX. That system was purposely designed and built by TNO for analysis with the DIANA FEA software.