ARCHIVED - Technology roadmap sets clear direction for aluminium industry

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September 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

Canada still stands among the world's top providers of aluminium, but China and other nations have now eclipsed Canada in both production capacity and sales of semi-finished aluminium products. Although the world demand for primary aluminium continues to rise, the fact that other nations are meeting the need at lower cost has pushed Canada's aluminium industry to examine new avenues to recapture market share. That's the kind of challenge that technology roadmapping was designed to handle.

Thanks to a two-year collaboration by Réseau Trans-Al Inc. NRC, and university, industry and government partners, a technology roadmap for Canada's aluminium transformation industry has recently been released. This roadmap follows on the heels of Canada's original aluminium industry roadmap, published in 2000, which led to positive developments including the creation of the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre (NRC-ATC) in Quebec's Saguenay region.

While the first roadmap aimed at increasing Canada's primary production capacity, the second focuses on processing and transformation technologies — the route to sustainable growth and market share, according to industry experts.

A team of four wrote the technology roadmap, after more than 150 industry experts were consulted. From left to right: Marie-Christine Gagnon and Jean-François Pouliot, both of Réseau Trans-Al Inc., and Alain Simard and Caroline Gaudreault, both working at the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre.
A team of four wrote the technology roadmap, after more than 150 industry experts were consulted. From left to right: Marie-Christine Gagnon and Jean-François Pouliot, both of Réseau Trans-Al Inc., and Alain Simard and Caroline Gaudreault, both working at the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre.

Photo credit: Centre québécois de recherche et de développement de l'aluminium (CQRDA)

"Canada's aluminium industry faces a window of opportunity to make its mark on the international aluminium transformation scene," says Alain Simard, a business development officer at the NRC-ATC. "The recommendations and opportunities defined by the roadmap are designed to help Canada become the place where innovation and aluminium come together – where transformation technology is at the leading edge."

What is a technology roadmap?

A technology roadmap is a guide to the future development of an industry, based on predictions of future market demands and the innovative processes required to satisfy them. It's the outcome of a planning process in which experts interpret trends, forecast needs and set a direction for meeting those needs through technology investment decisions.

For detailed information on technology roadmapping, consult the Industry Canada website at http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/site/trm-crt.nsf/en/Home

The 2006 Canadian Aluminium Transformation Technology Roadmap provides objective information on markets, growth-generating technologies and equipment manufacturers and suppliers specializing in the aluminium sector. It draws an up-to-date portrait of Canada's aluminium processing sector by comparing it with that of other countries, helping entrepreneurs to identify the main niche areas offering market potential. Its main objective is to help the Canadian industry develop innovative transformation technologies and advanced aluminium-based product modelling techniques that will lead more manufacturers to choose aluminium for their own products.

"The 2006 roadmap points to issues the aluminium transformation industry must address if it is to claim a greater share of the world market," says Simard. "For example, the industry needs better access to testing facilities if it is to develop higher-performance products that will meet the most demanding requirements of the transportation, construction and energy sectors."

Alain Simard, of the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre, was instrumental in preparing the new technology roadmap.
Alain Simard, of the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre, was instrumental in preparing the new technology roadmap.

Photo credit: Centre québécois de recherche et de développement de l'aluminium (CQRDA)

NRC's facility in the Saguenay is already providing the knowledge, equipment and support to develop advanced technologies for manufacturing aluminium-based products. Working with industry partners, it simulates and evaluates processes ― including hydroforming, semi-solid die-casting, adhesive joining, laser welding and friction-stir welding ― to transform aluminium into finished and semi-finished products. It also provides opportunities to train highly qualified people in the aluminium transformation industry.

Interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities for Canada's aluminium industry? Consult the 2006 Canadian Aluminium Transformation Technology Roadmap posted at http://www.trans-al.com/Default.aspx?alias=www.trans-al.com/network .


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National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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