Thursday, 5 March 2015

Secret entrant joins CGI CV diesel stakes

Secrecy surrounds the identity of a cast iron foundry in Japan, specialising in the production of engine components for commercial vehicle and industrial vehicle applications, that has signed up to the development of compacted graphite iron (CGI) engine components.

Such is the clandestine nature of the Japanese automotive industry that this latest installation brings to two the number of undisclosed installations of SinterCast’s Mini-System in Japan for the process control of CGI manufacture.

It was way back on 25 October 2011 that SinterCast announced that, following the longstanding support of CGI product development in the industrial power sector, the Toa Koki foundry of Japan, one of the world's leading foundries for the production of large marine and stationary diesel engine components, had ordered a Mini-System 3000.  

The installation,  schedule for December of that year, followed over two years of on-site trials and technical support during the initial product development phase. The system provides Toa Koki with independent CGI product development capability in the lead-up to series production.  

With the potential for the production of more than 100,000 engine equivalents per year in the near-term, the installation at Toa Koki provided the opportunity for SinterCast to increase its production of components beyond the core automotive cylinder block and head sector.

Since then, there have been two undiscosed installations of SinterCast’s Mini-System.

Announcing the latest order, Steve Dawson, SinterCast’s president and chief executive officer had to admit: “At the request of the foundry and the OEM, the details of the installation and product development must remain confidential.”

Under the terms of the agreement, SinterCast will install a Mini-System 3000 and ancillary hardware, and provide engineering support.  With planned installation during the first quarter of 2015, the Mini-System 3000 will enable the foundry and the end-user OEM to accelerate the ongoing development of CGI cylinder blocks and heads for on-road commercial vehicle and off-road industrial vehicle applications. 

Notwithstanding the secrecy element of the latest contract, the news adds fuel to the fire that CGI is increasingly being recognised in the Far East as an important enabler in the inevitable and relentless drift towards more efficient diesel and gasoline engines, especially diesel engines for commercial vehicles and light/medium duty trucks.

Pioneered in Europe the technology has spread worldwide, thanks to Dawson’s tireless efforts at home and abroad, although one or two foundries and OEMs remain reticent.

Also, notwithstanding perhaps the tiniest element of chagrin in having to conceal the identity of both foundry and OEM in Japan, Dawson had to proudly concede: "This is a particularly rewarding installation for SinterCast.  We have actively supported the CGI development activities of the foundry and the OEM for many years, and we have enjoyed good relationships on the operational and managerial levels.”

“We are pleased that this support and confidence has led to a new installation and has established our partner as the SinterCast-CGI leader in Japan for commercial vehicle engine development,” noted Dawson also. "This latest installation marks our third installation in Japan and our seventeenth installation in Asia, broadening our presence and brand awareness, and increasing our opportunity to support the future CGI needs of the important Asian market."

Ironically, and completely unrelated, it is almost three years to the day since PurePOWER Technologies LLC, a Navistar Company, began production of heavy-duty CGI cylinder blocks at its Indianapolis, Indiana casting facility in North America.  

The System 3000 process control system at the PurePOWER Technologies Indianapolis casting facility was configured to provide SinterCast's measure-and-correct feed forward control of the CGI production process, along with automated feedback control of the base treatment.  

The System 3000 also logs data from the melting, moulding and shake-out operations to provide enhanced quality control and traceability of the casting process.

• For the record, foundries with SinterCast Mini-Systems are: ASK Chemicals, USA; Case Western Reserve University, USA; Dongfeng Trucks, China; Doosan Infracore (2), Korea; FAW First Automobile Works, China; FAW Wuxi Diesel, China; Ford Casting Development, USA; Grainger & Worrall, UK; Impro Industries Company Ltd, China; Jiangling Motors Corporation, China; Luitpoldhütte, Germany; Mid-City Foundry, USA; Toa Koki, Japan; Total Solutions & Power, Korea; Undisclosed (2), Japan; University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA; and YTO Group, China.

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