Ryobi boosts competitiveness through R&D


Ryobi Aluminium Casting (UK) Limited, based in Carrickfergus, is reaping the benefits of R&D following a three year collaborative project supported by Invest Northern Ireland.

The Japanese owned company manufactures aluminium die cast products for the European automotive market and utilised the latest engineering tools at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast to investigate methods to reduce the overall manufacturing cost of each of its castings.

Invest NI offered over £460,000 of support towards the collaboration project, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Speaking about his experiences, John Hughes, Managing Director of Ryobi Aluminium Casting Ltd, said: “The linkup with Queen’s has enabled us to develop significant knowledge and expertise in new areas which will have long term benefits for the company. Invest NI’s support and guidance over the years has also made a vital contribution to our growth and development.

“The enhancements we’ve made to our processes as a result of this R&D project have not only created cost savings but put us in a stronger, more competitive position to target higher volume and longer term projects across Europe.”

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Research and Development, commented: “In an increasingly competitive marketplace Ryobi has recognised the importance of innovation and continuous improvement.

“The knowledge and skills gained through working with Queen’s has clearly delivered significant benefits for Ryobi. I would encourage other businesses to explore how collaborative opportunities such as this could complement their own research activities.

“Ryobi’s presence in Northern Ireland continues to boost the creditability and reputation of our automotive industry and its continued investment will be influential in generating interest in Northern Ireland as a location for further inward investment.”

Dr David Thornhill, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, added: “Ryobi is at the forefront of casting technology and working closely with its engineers on thermal imagining, process instrumentation and casting simulations has increased their skills, maximising Ryobi’s competitive position. The company has reduced its energy consumption by about 750 GJ per year, which is the same as the power consumed by about 50 domestic homes. Our collaboration on this project clearly showcases the commercial benefits of university-based research.”