R&D programs announced for auto parts sectorWritten by Rob Colman February, 20 2008
Precarn Inc., Ottawa, ON and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) have announced awarding $1.5 million to fund three research and development projects in the Canadian auto parts industry.
The funding, which has been awarded to three collaborative teams of Canadian researchers at companies and three universities in Ontario, will be augmented by $2.1 million levered through participant funds, for a total project value of $3.5 million.
The funding was provided under the Collaborative Auto R&D Program which was created in May, 2007. The program targets smaller automotive parts suppliers to deliver operational prototypes of significant innovations in the auto parts industry. The joint program is administered and funded by Precarn, a not-for-profit company representing a national network of corporations, universities, colleges, research institutes and government partners engaged in the development of enabling technologies.
The three projects include the development of an automated scanning system that detects dings and dents in automotive bodies, a failure diagnosis system of drive components, and a robotic welding system that uses a six-axis robot to modify moulds.
“We’re particularly pleased to award the funding to Canadian automotive parts suppliers in order to enable them to advance their research and development agendas,” Paul Johnston, president and chief executive officer of Precarn, said in making the announcement. “These innovative projects are designed to develop advanced technological solutions that improve productivity and lower costs in the automotive manufacturing sector.”
The automatic ding and dent detection project will develop a working prototype of an automated laser scanning system for the detection and identification of deformations introduced to automobile bodies during the assembly process. The system will scan automobiles as they move on the assembly line and detect dings and dents (deformations) and subsequently identify the deformations visually on the body surface for in-line repair, significantly speeding up the production and inspection process. Led by Neptec Design Group Ltd., Ottawa, ON, the project partners include the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, and Honda Canada, Alliston, ON.
The second project will see the development of an auto component failure prediction system. The testing of components designed for car engines is a very complex task. Parts that are driven by the engine’s crankshaft experience great strain during their life, so understanding their durability before failure is crucial. The new auto component failure prediction system will use a combination of hardware and artificial intelligence tools to simulate the environment engine components will experience to help the design of more robust products. Led by Quanser Consulting Group Inc., Markham, ON, the project partners include Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, and Litens Automotive Group, Woodbridge, ON.
The third project involves developing a multi-layer robotic TIG welding designed to follow a 3D contour. With car models changing from year to year, specific automotive parts are re-moulded to create new looks. The current process to update the parts requires the steel moulds to be heated to 700Â°F and then, a skilled welder must operate in a hot environment for many hours. This is not only a time-consuming and uncomfortable task, but also requires the manufacturer to commit significant human and financial resources. This project will develop a unique robotic system that automatically welds the parts, working on a three-dimensional surface. With this new technology, welding jobs that may have required more than 20 hours to complete could be done two to three times faster, with greater accuracy. Led by Tool-Tec Welding Inc., Oldcastle, ON, the project partners include University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, and Omega Tool Corp., Oldcastle, ON.
“We are delighted to be working with Precarn on this collaborative venture,” said Gerald Fedchun, president of APMA. “The APMA and our members recognize the critical importance of innovation in this sector to maintain our competitive advantages.”
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