Leading the race to diversify

Posted on 8 Oct 2009 by The Manufacturer

Founded in 1958, and with an unparalleled pedigree in performance engineering in the world of Formula 1 motorsport, the twenty-first century finds Cosworth as a leading supplier in a diverse range of sectors including, aerospace, defence, marine, OEM automotive, performance aftermarket and energy generation.

Cosworth’s world class engineering and manufacturing expertise provide performance solutions based on a sound understanding from first principles. This expertise has delivered championship winning engines for Formula 1, Indy 500 and Le Mans, powering cars driven by racing legends Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher.

With such a distinguished history in motor racing, the Northampton-headquartered business could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. However a robust strategy of diversification and global development has been pursued by the business, which has accelerated since its split from Ford in 2004.

The Cosworth Group was formed when current owners, Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, combined the mechanical engineering and precision manufacturing expertise available in Cosworth’s Northampton and Torrance (CA, USA) facilities with the advanced electronics capabilities of Pi Research – now known as Cosworth Electronics.

The resulting synergies within the Cosworth Group has enabled it to transfer technologies and domain expertise to provide vertically integrated solutions for the likes of Rolls Royce and Aston Martin.

“Although Cosworth’s reputation was originally built on our considerable achievements in the world of motorsport,” says Jog Lall, General Manager and Director of Cosworth’s Northampton campus, “our expertise in design and prototyping, precision manufacturing, and performance optimisation are hugely relevant to the aerospace, defence, marine, and energy generation industries.”

Complete solutions
Since implementing its ambitious diversification strategy, the Cosworth Group has provided a raft of industry-leading solutions that draw on the Group’s impressive engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

Explains Lall: “Cosworth are able to undertake every step in the path from concept generation, simulation and design, through prototype creation and testing, to niche volume manufacture, allowing the business to work with customers as a development solutions provider. Our on-site, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities play a key part in providing vertically integrated solutions.” With technologies such as integrated CAD/CAM systems with Vericut machine simulation, versatile 5 axis machining centres, and processing capabilities for aluminium, titanium, magnesium, and steel, Cosworth is well equipped to provide manufacturing services that reduce setup time and minimise handling for ‘Right First time’ results.

Blue chip choice
In 2008, Rolls Royce awarded Cosworth the contract to supply components for the Deltic engine, a complex design manufactured from non-ferrous materials, and used by the Royal Navy in its minesweeping vessels. The project relied on Cosworth’s ability to provide cutting edge, cost effective solutions for cast, forged, and machined-fromsolid complex components produced to AS9100 standards.

In order to ensure the end result components were of exceptional quality, advanced reverse engineering techniques such as 3D optical and CT (computed tomography) scanning procedures were used to ensure conformance compliance.

All parts were supplied to the customer with full traceability, including First Article Inspection Reports and material Certificates of Conformance.

Similarly, the company’s groundbreaking AE1 single cylinder engine — a lightweight, heavy-fuel engine designed for use in unmanned vehicles — has been chosen for use in the BAE Systems’ Talisman, a battery powered unmanned underwater vehicle, and by ArcturusUAV in its pioneering aerial system. Cementing the firm’s assent into the aerospace and defence elite, and a mere five years after its launch in the sector, the US Navy has contracted Cosworth as part of its Ultra Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle programme, the final stage of a two year, multi-million dollar project to prove the readiness of technology for transition to STUAS/Tier II UAV programmes.

Indeed, whilst the firm has successfully diversified into sectors other than its original incarnation as a racing engine workshop, its forty years of expertise in automotive design is still winning Cosworth illustrious vehicle contracts, the design and manufacture of engine for Aston Martin’s new supercar the One-77 being one such project.

“Aston approached us with a basic starting premise, to which a number of critical adjustments in engine length, cost reduction, and improved power output were needed,” says Bruce Wood, Cosworth’s Technical Director. “We are delighted to have delivered to Aston’s specifications, even exceeding these in certain areas of the remit. The project — as with the majority that we undertake — is indicative of the ability that our Cosworth design, engineering, and manufacturing teams have to develop and deliver a performance solution on time and on budget.”

Given the Cosworth Group’s thriving sector diversification, Lall understandably remains confident about the future: “Without doubt, the prudent operation and commercial sense which underpins the company has been a critical factor in our success to date. Coupled with investigating those opportunities to take our world class engineering and high precision manufacturing capabilities to customers in adjacent markets, this strategy has enabled us to make the transition from an — albeit very successful — automotive specialist to a global provider of aerospace, defence, marine, and energy solutions.” Indeed, the company has recently opened offices in India, aiming to replicate its success in this rapidly expanding market. Such will, says Lall: “Allow Cosworth to establish a footprint within the territory, while simultaneously providing direct access to the quality and skill of our engineering expertise.” While the venture is aimed initially at the automotive aftermarket, Cosworth seeks also to leverage its not inconsiderable success in the aerospace and defence sectors, given that there has been significant activity in the Indian market since the turn of the decade.

Concludes Lall: “Our latest expansions demonstrate that Cosworth’s unique mix of engineering expertise and state of the art manufacturing capabilities are of real value to customers in today’s global marketplace. This mix of innovative capabilities has positioned Cosworth as a key solutions supplier across each sector in which we operate, whether it be our traditional automotive expertise, or those adjacent markets which have driven the company into the twenty-first century.”