Thursday, 4 December 2014

UK firm plays key role in Ford’s 2.7-litre EcoBoost

UK prototype development CGI castings foundry Grainger & Worrall (G&W) of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, played a vital role in bringing Ford’s 2.7-litre EcoBoost gasoline engine to market.
The engine, developed for Ford’s market-leading F-150 pick-up truck – an engine that is widely rumoured to play a part in some other Ford vehicles in the future – is the world’s first volume production gasoline engine with a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block. The material has played a key role in a wide range of diesel engine engines, but not heretofore in gasoline engines.

G&W, which claims to be the world’s leading total casting solutions provider, has won the prestigious Component of the Year accolade at this year’s Cast Metal Federation (CMF) Awards.  Recognising the best of British casting, the event profiles exceptional projects and components delivered by firms from across the country. The CMF is based at the National Metalforming Centre, West Bromwich, UK. 

G&W was presented with the award in recognition of its bespoke engine block development for the Ford US pickup truck. 

The 2014 ceremony marks the second year in a row the UK specialist foundry has scooped the Component of the Year – a testament to the world-leading innovation and engineering carried out by the global firm. 

Development of the award-winning engine block development began in 2010 when Ford first approached G&W to prototype an all-new lightweight iron block for its best-selling F-150 pickup truck.

The links between Ford Motor Company and G&W go back to the early development stages of the 2.7-litre V6 Lion diesel engine when the US OEM’s engineers, based at Dunton and Dagenham, Essex, UK, contacted the Shropshire-based company. The V6 Lion was manufactured at Ford’s Dagenham Engine Plant and appeared in Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. The Lion was the first CGI engine to be machined and assembled in the UK. This experience stood G&W in good stead – the UK company subsequently worked on a number of Ford CGI engine programmes.  

To achieve the US-company’s target specification, the F-150 engine block needed to be trimmed from the 5.4 litre V8 to a 2.7 litre V6 – an indication of Ford’s long-term intent to reduce its C02 output with ultra-modern EcoBoost platforms. 

Working alongside Ford, Grainger & Worrall supported all aspects of the prototype development – from concept through to simulation, tooling and casting, through to finish machining. G&W’s foundry has for many years made use of the SinterCast CGI control system. 

The launch of the vehicle at the globally renowned Society of Automotive Engineers Show in Detroit earlier this year was a huge success and further cemented Grainger & Worrall’s reputation as an industry-leading engine castings provider, as well as showcasing the next-generation capabilities of the British foundry company.

Edward Grainger, director at Grainger & Worrall, commented: “It’s a great honour for us to receive the CMF award two years running and a real testament to the dedication and skills of our team.  We’re incredibly proud of our work with Ford and see this as an exciting time not only for Grainger & Worrall, but for the UK’s casting industry as a whole.”

Grainger privately told this newsletter this week: “Although our involvement with CGI in NASCAR and the Nano project (which won us the CMF Award earlier this month) is widely documented, it’s difficult to disclose too much more information beyond this, due to client sensitivities. However, we can confirm that we have supported prototype programmes for major OEMs from US, China and Japan – notably some high performance commercial applications (100Kw per Litre) and research work for blocks for ultra-high cylinder pressures.”

This is the first time Grainger has mentioned G&W having CGI customers in China and Japan.

In the ultra-secretive world of prototype castings technology, where development has to begin years ahead of an engine going into production and the utmost security is required, G&W has worked with a wide range of leading automotive companies in Europe and the US. Accordingly, it has established a pre-eminent position for itself as the leading provider of major engine components, such as cylinder blocks and heads, including those used for NASCAR racing where the technology can be leading edge, both in terms of providing high strength as well as light weight. Even now, some of its customers’ names cannot be revealed.

The Ford EcoBoost vee-block configuration was among the most challenging that G&W’s engineers have worked on - that it can reveal publicy at this stage.

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