Monday 10 December 2012

Iveco needs CGI to meet Euro 6

Fiat Group subsidiary Iveco is set to embark on a programme to adopt compacted graphite iron (CGI) in the engines of its commercial vehicles.

Diesel engine specialists and foundry men within the Fiat organisation are already familiar with CGI, following years of development work both at Fiat’s Teksid foundry division and by the group’s diesel engine maker Iveco.

But the time is drawing near for a decisive step to be taken if commercial vehicle maker Iveco is to meet tougher Euro 6 emissions legislation. Euro 6 will emerge in two stages: newly type-approved vehicles from 1 January 2013, and all newly-registered vehicles from 1 January 2014.

The focus of attention centres on Mexico where the Teksid foundry in Monclova has ordered a full refurbishment of its SinterCast CGI process control technology, including an upgrade of its System 3000.

However, only a few weeks back, Tupy’s foundry in Saltillo ordered the SinterCast System 3000 Plus upgrade in line with a major contract to supply 300,000 CGI engine cylinder blocks a year. The System 3000 Plus enhancement offers improved levels of automation, production capacity, productivity and security. The 300,000 blocks-a-year capability can be achieved during a daily cycle of 9.2 hours. The foundry's customer will be announced next year.

The Teksid foundry upgrade is not of the same magnitude as Tupy’s in Mexico; Tupy is after all the world's leading foundry in high-volume CGI engine components.  Nevertheless, Teksid has ordered the upgrade to support its preparation for series production of commercial vehicle and industrial engine cylinder head programmes that are already under development. 

That both upgrades are taking place in Mexico is more than a passing coincidence.

Also, it should be noted that if cylinder heads are under development within Iveco, it can only be a matter of time before cylinder blocks follow suit. Other engine builders have chosen cylinder blocks as their first port of call for CGI upgrades.

Iveco builds a wide range of diesel engines including New Engine Family three-, four- and six-cylinder units of between 3.4-litre and 6.7-litres, in both turbocharged and naturally-aspirated form. In addition it has the Cursor I6 heavy commercial vehicle engines of 7.8-, 10.3- and 12.9-litres. Following on from these are the Vector series of V6, V8, V12 and V16 configuration diesels spanning 15- to 40-litres swept volume.

Should the engine maker decide eventually to switch all of its engine models then its demand for CGI could be quite significant. Much more likely, however, engineers will carefully select CGI application according to pressing and immediate needs.

In this context the upcoming Euro 6 legislation will impose challenges on Iveco’s engine design and development engineers that can only be met by a switch to CGI.

Their only comfort is that they will be following in the footsteps of those engine makers which have already taken the decisive step many years ago – including companies such as Daf/Paccar, Detroit Diesel, Ford, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo. More recently, Navistar has come into the frame with its own in-house CGI production programme to make cylinder blocks for various MaxxForce commercial vehicle engines.

These companies have embraced CGI to a greater or lesser extent, but the fact remains they have pointed the direction that all engine makers will have to take sooner or later.

Iveco appears to have been unwilling (for cost reasons) in the past to make a high-volume CGI commitment, seemingly keen only to experiment with CGI engine components in police marine launch applications. But now it seems the door is finally being nudged open. The only questions are: when and by how much.

Now however there is no question of closing the door.

On a quite separate front, SinterCast has sold an automated feeder to an (un-named) European commercial vehicle OEM to increase the efficiency of on-going product development for heavy duty diesel engines in the OEM’s captive foundry, most likely Volvo’s foundry at Skövdeverken, Sweden.