The NRC Manufacturing and Automotive Innovation Hub is an open-space concept laboratory and collaborative workspace. The 75,000-square-foot hub is a one-of-a-kind research station where all levels of the automotive and manufacturing supply chain can collaborate on-site with NRC specialists and Canada's research ecosystem. This innovation hub, along with our dedicated research, design and development staff, is available to manufacturers, integrators and equipment makers. In the manufacturing lab, collaborators can visualize and develop advanced manufacturing processes. In the automotive lab, they can integrate and develop technologies related to connected/autonomous vehicles, vehicle lightweighting and alternative propulsion/electrification. Through this facility, we will provide technical solutions and apply them directly to our collaborators' products and processes.
The Hub, located in London, Ontario, is part of the NRC's Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre. The facility supports the Canadian automotive industry, owing primarily to its proximity to the Canadian market, automaker and supplier manufacturing facilities and R&D centres. This sector is vitally important to the regional economy and is the focus of regional and provincial initiatives.
The NRC’s Manufacturing and Automotive Innovation Hub research facility has capabilities unique in Canada in laser micromachining, laser polishing, laser texturing/structuring, pulsed laser deposition, chemical/physical other vapour deposition, and optical fabrication for applications in tool and die manufacturing, security, electronics, and automotive lighting. The facility has developed and commercialized the world leading laser consolidation technology, a directed energy deposition form of additive manufacturing.
More recently, our team has developed capabilities in this open-space facility to help Canadian automotive manufacturers adopt more advanced manufacturing approaches, including robotic vision systems, robotic machining, manufacturing analytics, modeling and simulation, and data-driven factory automation, as well as manufacturing with new materials and other new vehicle technologies. New capabilities will be developed to enable manufacturers to use Industry 4.0 technologies to produce their products more efficiently.
Why work with us
Our goals are to help Canadian businesses become industry leaders and accelerate project time-to-market with advanced technologies, expert assistance and efficient processes. The concept is to offer a flexible and agile collaborative space set up to rapidly solve industry problems with novel technology solutions that can be integrated on a short-term basis. Our facility is designed to be flexible and modular, with client confidentiality in mind. As such, we can address the immediate needs of industry to launch projects quickly to:
- host collaboration projects in which NRC staff and partners integrate products/technologies from multiple members (academic, government, industry, NRC) into a digital factory or vehicle platform or subassembly, particularly if a neutral location is desirable
- act as a physical location to bring multiple teams together to work on collaborative R&D to develop technology demonstrators
- enable an R&D consortium for high-level integration and industrialization
- offer physical spaces to develop and demonstrate new technologies, trial or pilot new systems with highly credentialed staff with industry experience
- provide confidential workspaces
- assist with lean manufacturing processes
- gain access point to NRC talent and services across the nation
Areas of expertise
In the Manufacturing and Automotive Innovation Hub, you work shoulder to shoulder with NRC specialists in automotive technology. All have industry experience; some of it international. You can draw from our broad knowledge base that includes:
- artificial intelligence (AI)
- vehicle electrical and propulsion technology and diagnostics
- automated guided vehicles
- vehicle networking
- electric and electronic (E/E) vehicle architecture
- advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
- active safety in complex systems with sensing and perception
- product design
- industrial robotics
- machine vision
- surface engineering laser- and cutting-based microfabrication
- applications for the deposition of specific coatings
- value-adding functionalities for advanced tooling and surface texturing
Advanced manufacturing: Industry 4.0
Our manufacturing lab brings the fourth Industrial Revolution to you. Here you can learn and develop digital approaches to manufacturing. Development areas include:
- cyber-physical systems
- cloud computing
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- cognitive computing/artificial intelligence (AI)
- machine learning
- inspection/vision systems
- robots for assembly
- collaborative robots
- big data
- modelling/digital twinning
Connected/autonomous vehicles (CAV)
This area is the hotbed of vehicle research and product opportunity for Canadian suppliers, among them information and communications technology (ICT) firms. Our talent and resources help you minimize cost and time requirements for testing and validation of autonomous vehicles. Areas of research include:
- hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing of autonomous driving hardware and software
- driver monitoring system testing to decrease distracted driving in connected vehicles
- improving AI perception for autonomous driving by converting raw data into high-level information at the source
- augmenting high-definition maps by utilizing satellite images and crowdsourced data by acquiring construction and road degradation information in real time
- Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) acceleration of edge computing for advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) sensors (vision, light imaging detections and ranging (LIDAR), radio detection and ranging (RADAR))
In addition, the NRC offers clients an excellent opportunity to develop high-value products, technologies and surface functionalities that you may not find anywhere else. You'll benefit from our advanced manufacturing processes available at our Laser processing and surface modification facility.
The NRC's capabilities in additive manufacturing, microfabrication and surface functionalization are internationally acclaimed. We are now responding to mounting industry needs for mechatronics and control systems as well as engineering data analytics. The Innovation Hub's manufacturing lab is a test bed for hardware/software interoperability, autonomous systems, cybersecurity and communications development.
The manufacturing lab features:
- a 6000 square foot space with 30-foot high ceilings
- 4 laboratories for flexible and confidential work. Lab space can be expanded as required.
- 2 vehicle bays, complete with lifts and related automotive shop capabilities. Each bay has the ability to maintain project confidentiality.
- a high crane bay as a manufacturing space for scale up and/or manufacturing process development.
Work cells include advanced automation, laser manufacturing and advanced machining to be used for scale-up and on-site digital factory. Capabilities include:
- additive manufacturing of metal parts through laser powder bed fusion, laser cladding and laser powder deposition
- micromachining, laser fabrication, laser polishing, texturing and welding
- specialty coatings and surface functionalization
- sensors for connecting devices, collecting and using real-time data in manufacturing processes
- sensors and systems for preventing collisions between collaborative robots and human workers
- digital twinning of processes
- developing vision systems for picking and packing and quality inspection
- cybersecurity for IoT devices
Two 1500-square-foot experimental vehicle bays featuring lifts, automotive shop capabilities and 12 x 14-foot roll-up doors. The modular workspaces can be opened to provide easy flow from one lab or bay to another, or sectioned off to ensure confidentiality.
Stephen Sweeney, Acting Director of R&D