The automotive industry, not just in the UK but worldwide, is changing and at a rapid and unprecedented rate. Across the world, in line with government expectations, car manufacturers are seeking innovative ways in which to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency, whether through incorporating electrical power or through light-weighting by using composite plastics to create components instead of traditional aluminium or steel.
For Nifco, this presents a massive opportunity. Nifco UK, part of worldwide plastics manufacturer Nifco Inc. which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, boasts the group’s only R&D facility outside of the Asia Pacific region. The facility was part of a £14million investment in 2014, which saw the business almost double its manufacturing space with a second factory on the Durham Lane site.
The company’s nine-strong team of R&D engineers have spent much of the last five years working on projects, which support the ambitions of UK vehicle manufacturers. Key milestone achievements include the composite oil pan developed for Jaguar Land Rover as part of the ALIVE6 project, which led to an overall weight reduction of more than 1kg, when compared with its steel counterparts.
Safety is high on the agenda at Nifco too, with the design and development of parts which needed to break in a specific way should the vehicle be involved in a collision, this was fundamental in the customer securing required safety certifications. Almost all of Nifco’s earliest R&D projects have now commenced production, with further parts planned for full rollout in the coming months.
Fundamental to all the delivery of these industry-advancing projects is collaboration, and that is something in plentiful supply at Nifco. Each project demonstrates teamwork across departments within Nifco UK, other Nifco sites worldwide, with customers, suppliers and research organisations such as the Centre for Process Innovation with whom Nifco UK is currently working on material exploration.
The continued progression of the automotive industry is dependent, in part, on improvements to technology. Digital technologies are providing more in-depth statistical data to the manufacturing industry as a whole and benefitting Nifco especially, by providing the information needed to identify improvements in efficiency of equipment, reduction of scrap, and more streamlined logistical processes.
For companies operating in the automotive sector, simply doing ‘more of the same’ is not an option, companies have to be on the front foot, working with vehicle manufacturers to deliver the vehicles of the future, making use of the advancements in materials and technologies in order to achieve the directives set out by the governments across the world.
Posted on 5th July 2019