North East plastics manufacturer Nifco UK Ltd has invested in a £750,000 machine to improve testing of its components for major car manufacturers.
The Eaglescliffe firm has acquired a dynamometer — a complex machine that will test the capabilities of the parts it manufacturers on site.
Following Nifco’s key £50m contract win with Ford, it is hoped the equipment will drive efficiencies and ultimately improve the performance of vehicles.
The dynamometer allows Nifco to run a vehicle engine in laboratory conditions, using a powerful electric motor to provide the resistance normally provided by a car’s weight and drag. Nifco can use the machine to understand how its parts affect any aspect of the engine’s performance, allowing the research and development team to gain more insight and make design improvements.
Paul Chapman, general manager of research and development at Nifco, said: “Nifco’s success has been in no small part down to the way in which we work with clients to anticipate their needs and produce parts that allow them to make improvements and efficiencies.
“The investment made in the dynamometer will allow us to take that a step further, and — as we grow our research and development division — create parts that, cumulatively, make a big difference for clients.”
Mike Matthews, managing director of Nifco UK and European operations officer, added: “The investment in the dynamometer is a significant mark of intent for us at Nifco and will allow us to really understand how effective our parts are when they are put to the test under a range of conditions.
“Nifco has seen significant growth and that is down to a commitment to excellence in everything we do. Part of this commitment is investment in equipment — as well as facilities and training — that keeps us at the absolute forefront when it comes to producing new and innovative products for the automotive sector.
“The dynamometer is the latest in a long line of investments — and one that we are sure will generate a fantastic return — and for people considering a career in manufacturing and engineering, particularly in the R&D element of the sector, this investment presents significant opportunities.”
Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), a newly-formed cluster set up to spur on the development of the sector in the region, was one of the guests invited to see the new machine being unveiled.
He said: “Investment on this scale only serves to demonstrate just how confident Nifco UK — and its parent company Nifco Inc — is in the strength of the automotive sector in this part of the world. It’s a major vote of confidence in the company, and will being an added dimension to the work the business is able to undertake for the OEMs it has contracts to support.”