Shareholders learn of new test and manufacturing equipment, the appointment of a manufacturing and quality specialist and of progress in all key product areas
Leyland, 31 July 2014 – Torotrak PLC (LSE: TRK), a leading UK innovator of mechanical solutions for vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions reduction, has significantly progressed its product manufacturing strategy with extensive investment in new facilities across its two sites. Along with the appointment of Ian Bryson as interim operations director for the group, the new additions support key strategies to move towards in-house manufacture for lower volume high value technology applications. Building upon the acquisition of Flybrid earlier in the year, the group is also preparing to manufacture units for fleet trials of the Flybrid KERS for buses in early 2015, ahead of full commercial production later in that year.
Bryson is an experienced manufacturing engineering specialist who began his career at BAE Systems before being trained in lean manufacturing and continuous improvement at Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan. He is certified as a black belt in Six-Sigma, the world’s leading data-driven process improvement methodology.
“This appointment is another important stage in delivering our strategy and taking greater control of getting our products into the market,” said Jeremy Deering, Torotrak CEO. “We are investing in low-volume manufacturing capability and increasing our test and prototyping capacities to speed the transition from a pure licensing business to an innovations supplier.”
To further improve the company’s product testing capabilities, four new test rigs in three new cells (with one being a twin-motor assembly) have been launched for performance and durability testing of its Flybrid Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). These have been installed at the Leyland site over recent months and are now reaching the final stages of assembly and commissioning. The specialised durability testing facilities are crucial in the final stages of the planned test programme as the technology reaches production-readiness in a number of applications. The ability to conduct extensive functional safety and durability testing in-house will help in getting the technologies to market faster, and providing more holistic customer support and reassurance.
The list of upgrades to Torotrak’s manufacturing capacity is extensive. In the past six months the company has installed two new Mazak precision machining centres for a range of applications. One machine is installed at Leyland for the manufacture of flywheel hubs and core components, including parts for the impending start of production of the Flybrid bus KERS, currently in road testing with WrightBus. A further unit at Silverstone is already manufacturing development parts and Leyland has received a new carbon fibre filament winding machine, which is installed and already manufacturing the tough carbon fibre rims for Flybrid’s high-speed flywheels. Finally a new curing oven has been commissioned and is also in operation, with complete flywheels ready for testing on the Group’snew test rigs.
“This is a really exciting time to be joining Torotrak,” said Bryson. “There is already a huge amount of momentum in the organisation to deliver this crucial manufacturing capacity and I’m looking forward to helping achieve this with world class levels of operational excellence and process efficiency.”
Over the coming months the company expects to undertake a more extensive refit of the Silverstone site that will include a new hydraulic test cell, further machine shop space for development parts and a dedicated electronics and wiring loom area.
This appointment and the upgrades in facilities and equipment are an important step in closing the gap between development and production for Torotrak. ”It’s important for us to be able to support our customers with low volume production so that they can effectively validate our products prior to production decisions,” said Deering. “Having the capability to also manufacture for lower volume applications, across our product portfolio is yet another advantage for the company.”
The result of this investment is already visible in a number of key milestones shared at the company’s AGM in Silverstone today. Amongst these were a funded research programme now underway with Lotus Cars to integrate KERS into the manual transmission of a performance passenger car, and the successful delivery of the first KERS installation in a Wright Bus StreetLite bus. This bus application has demonstrated good driveability and energy capture during on-road testing in Ballymena and Leyland during July and is on track to commence KERS trials on a public route with Arriva in Q3 2014. In addition, shareholders learned that the next stage engineering programme for main drive transmissions with Allison is underway and on track to receive a success related £1m deferred license fee in Q4 2014. Collaboration with Tier 1 and global passenger car OEMs to optimise V-Charge for new engine platforms is also progressing well.
Torotrak (LSE: TRK) is an innovator and supplier in low carbon vehicle technologies, focussing on mechanical solutions that increase efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in vehicles. These include the V-Charge variable-drive supercharger, a range of Torotrak gearless traction drive transmissions, and the Flybrid energy recovery system, which uses a mechanically-driven flywheel to capture kinetic energy during braking and efficiently return it to the wheels. The company’s engineering team works with proven, global tier one technology partners to provide a validated route from prototypes to production. Customers include major vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers in the light duty, heavy duty and off-highway sectors. www.torotrak.com