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Casting company uses CSIRO technologies and wins bid to manufacture car components in Victoria

Access to a portfolio of cost-competitive CSIRO casting technologies was crucial to Nissan Casting Australia’s (NCAP’s) recent successful bid to manufacture components for the Nissan Motor Company’s new LEAF electric car in Dandenong, Victoria.

“NCAP’s access to CSIRO’s advanced casting technology, which offers significant potential future savings, was instrumental to our winning the contract,” said NCAP’s business development and corporate planning manager, Brian Cooper.

(Pictured above: The CASTvac chill vent vacuum valve, developed by CSIRO researchers and Nissan working together through the CAST CRC.)

“Nissan Motor Company’s R&D engineers in Japan were highly impressed by the level of CSIRO R&D innovation, as well as the extent of state and Australian Government support available to the Australian die casting industry,” said Cooper.

Victoria’s automotive manufacturing industry employs 28,000 people, earning exports worth $2 billion annually and conducting 75 per cent of the nation’s automotive research and development.

The Nissan LEAF was rolled out in Japan, the US and selected European markets in late 2010, and delivery in Australia is expected in 2012. By late 2013, the Nissan Casting Plant is expected to be producing 22,000 electric vehicle components per month, contributing to Nissan’s global leadership in zero emission vehicle technology.

Technologies jointly developed by CSIRO and NCAP through the CAST CRC will be implemented as part of the Australian Government’s recently announced $21 million investment in sustainable, zero-emission technologies.

These include the CASTvac technology, a low-maintenance vacuum valve which eliminates machine stoppages due to valve blockages by molten aluminium, which has been estimated to save about $100,000 a year in the production of a single component.

In addition, NCAP has evaluated a suite of casting technologies developed by CSIRO’s Light Metals Flagship.

The prospect of future access to this suite of cost and process-efficient high-pressure die casting technologies was one of the major selling points which convinced Nissan to invest locally.

“Australia showed it can compete with some of the world’s leading low-cost countries by combining cost control and technological manufacturing solutions,” said Nissan’s Senior Vice President of Global Manufacturing, Toshiharu Sakai.

The Group Executive of CSIRO’s Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals Group, Dr Calum Drummond, said the outcome was an example of how CSIRO research enhances Australia’s ability to compete successfully in international markets.

“CSIRO aims to support Australian industry and maintain and grow Australian jobs with technologies that are sustainable and globally competitive,” Dr Drummond said.

“Support for 145 Victorian manufacturing jobs in the highly competitive international automotive industry is a great outcome, and CSIRO is delighted to have contributed to it.”

The deal also supports the Automotive Australia 2020 (AA2020) Technology Roadmap, an industry-developed and owned technology roadmap supported by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.

(Image courtesy – Andrew Barcham)

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