ARCHIVED - Valiant Machine & Tool Takes 21st Century Technology to Cleaning Engines on the Line

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October 08, 2008— Windsor, Ontario

Valiant Machine & Tool

A Canadian company is an international success story in keeping your vehicle's engine clean – before it rolls off the assembly process.

Thanks to a relationship Valiant Machine & Tool started with the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) in 2004, the company developed a new cleaning system using a hydro-dynamic pulse nozzle which Valiant has trademarked as the Valiant Waterhammer.

Valiant's cleaning system which uses a hydro-dynamic pulse nozzle, trademarked as the Valiant Waterhammer™.

To the average person, vehicle assembly might involve taking clean, shiny powertrain systems and mating them to automotive bodies. But the reality is a bit different. Whether it's a vehicle body, an engine, or a transmission, parts are far from clean. In fact, before the components of a vehicle even make it to the assembly plant, they have to be machined, and the lubricants and cutting tools used to machine them into the appropriate shape leave residue and burrs that, left on an engine block or cylinder head, could lead to component failures with use.

In a business environment where car manufacturers offer longer and more comprehensive warranties, the tolerance for imperfections that might lead to warranty claims and a reduced reputation for quality has been reduced to zero.

So the companies which manufacture vehicle systems place a heavy priority on delivering components that are free of all residue and burrs. In traditional systems, a high-pressure stream of water – as high as 5000 psi – was used to clean the parts before assembly. But high-pressure cleaning required huge pumps and huge amounts of water. Attempts were made to pulse the high-pressure water, but that became damaging to the high-pressure pump.

Thanks to a $164,000 investment from NRC-IRAP in 2006, Valiant developed a pulsing hydrodynamic nozzle that allows lower-pressure water – around 800 psi – to clean the parts without damage, and uses less water and smaller pumps to boot. The cleaning system led directly to a multi-million dollar contract with a major automotive manufacturer and created 250 jobs over a six month period.

The privately-held Valiant focuses on four broad areas of expertise:

  • automated production systems for the production of vehicle bodies and powertrains
  • industrial parts cleaning systems
  • plastic injection and casting production tooling
  • fixtures, gauges and other automotive and aircraft tooling

"We don't make parts," says Steve Mastroianni of Valiant. "We make the automated production systems so that our customers can make the parts."

This Canadian company will celebrate 50 years of operation in 2009, and since its beginning, Valiant has serviced the automotive industry as its prime market. With 17 facilities in seven countries, it's a supplier of advanced manufacturing technologies and services to dozens of companies. It came to NRC-IRAP in part to make other linkages with government, academic, and private sector companies to move projects forward, and NRC-IRAP's Vladimir Franjo provided technical and strategic advice to Valiant during the development of the MotionTrac system and the cleaning system.

The company is aggressively pursuing new markets for its products and services in aerospace, construction, forestry, and the energy sector. All of these sectors require advanced technology and employees who are constantly looking to innovate and improve processes.

With MotionTrac™, workers can easily move the parts into the perfect working position, reducing the chance of injuries, improving ergonomic benefit and increasing productivity.

One of those advanced technology products is the MotionTracTM system, which has improved mobility on assembly lines. Traditional assembly lines moved bulky, heavy parts along a conveyor. Workers would then stoop, stretch, or twist to work on them. Essentially, the MotionTracTM system uses a cantilevered arm to handle parts like engine blocks, car seats, or cylinder heads as they move along an assembly line. With MotionTracTM, workers can easily move the parts into the perfect working position, reducing the chance of injuries, improving ergonomic benefit and increasing productivity. Valiant is now working on a similar system for assembly lines where parts aren't as heavy as engine blocks or cylinder heads.

The company's work that may be largely invisible to the consumer, but it is a crucial part of the modern manufacturing economy. So advances in automation, robotics, or efficiency are key to the success of Valiant Machine & Tool Inc.

There was much more to the NRC-IRAP project than simple financial investment. Mastroianni says the relationship between the NRC-IRAP team, led by technical advisor Vladimir Franjo, and Valiant staff is "a true partnership, where risk is shared and both sides worked toward success."

NRC-IRAP staff helped point Valiant to other public agencies to work with, acted as a sounding board during the R&D process, and even helped Valiant migrate to an R&D approval process created by NRC-IRAP. Vladimir Franjo chuckles and says, "Many people think that R&D project approval process is just paperwork, but here the successful company has adopted it as the best practice."

Student internships begun during the projects have turned into full-time employment, and Valiant Machine is involved in ongoing R&D work with the Universityof Windsor.

"As we get ready to celebrate our golden anniversary, we are looking at a very bright future," says Valiant Machine's Mastroianni. "The assistance we've received from the NRC-IRAP program has helped us develop new technology, make new sales, and hire highly-trained and skilled new graduates. The relationship has been an extremely positive one for us."

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