Thursday, July 30, 2009
The automotive industry experienced a significant and rapid decrease in profitability due to declining sales, increased competition, and the higher price of raw materials such as steel and oil. The slowdown of the U.S. and Mexican economies has resulted in dramatic changes in the industry and has forced automakers in Mexico to reduce their production. Market realities have led to new trends in car manufacturing, including smaller car sizes and increased fuel efficiency. Furthermore, the spare parts market will increase as used-vehicles are allowed into Mexico because of NAFTA. As a result, opportunities exist for U.S. exporters of spare parts, equipment and new technologies oriented to reduce costs.
Mexico’s auto part industry is closely related to the U.S. industry. There are approximately one thousand auto parts manufacturers in Mexico and about 70% of these are subsidiaries of foreign corporations, mainly from the United States. Fifty eight percent of the automobiles sold in Mexico are imported, of which 75% come from the U.S. Total production of vehicles in Mexico in 2008 was 2,102,801.Parts, equipment and first and second tier components from the U.S. have experienced an increase in exports due to increased Mexican production of new models that have shifted from U.S. assembly plants.
The total market for auto parts in Mexico has shown a slight growth from 2007 to 2008 as per estimates. The economic outlook for 2009 is for less growth. While estimates vary, the Mexican economy will likely experience a slight contraction, in contrast to 1.9% growth for 2008. Eduardo Solis, Chairman of the Mexican Auto Association, acknowledged that the industry’s situation would worsen in 2009 but expects that it should recover by the end of June. He added that production will fall by 20% during the first half of the year and that a similar decline is expected in sales.
To offset the fall in sales, the industry and the government will have to work on other strategies to target niches in the domestic market. The industry might also ask the government to reduce taxes for purchasing and owning a car. Despite the decline in demand and production, many automotive companies announced large investments in Mexico last year. This is due to Mexico’s advantage in low labor costs and recent technological development in the auto industry. In addition, companies are looking for lower manufacturing and export costs.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The U.S. construction industry is made up of an equally diverse network of more than 1 million firms. Using the auto industry as an example, the average car has more than 15,000 parts coming from 5,000 manufacturers that are made to the precise specifications of the auto company and must arrive on time.
Production costs are no longer the major cost component in these global supply chains—the dominant cost is in the engineering and business activities, which depend critically upon clear and error-free exchange of information among partners.
Inefficiencies and needless roadblocks in the exchange of product design and business data in manufacturing and construction are estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $25 billion per year. Small manufacturers are particularly hurt by these problems, but they affect the competitiveness of entire industries.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
If you arrived in a car, truck, or bus, NIST helped you to get here. Manufacturing a car requires more than 15,000 parts and accessories. These parts must fit and work together perfectly even if made by many different companies, in different countries.
NIST provides U.S. automakers with the tools to ensure that a centimeter in Milwaukee is the same as a centimeter in Malaysia. NIST also co-funds research on advanced auto technologies and provides technical and business assistance to small manufacturers such as auto suppliers.
Monday, July 27, 2009
GM has introduced the Autonomy concept model, which uses hydrogen fuel cell technology that powers electric motors in each wheel. The vehicle uses a chassis and replaceable body, allowing greater flexibility and freedom in designing the interior. Internally, the vehicle operates without pedals or dashboard, using sophisticated computer and electronic systems to operate the vehicle.
Voice activation is another technology being developed for use in future vehicles. Voice activation systems are expected to operate internal climate controls, open doors, and respond to navigational request by the driver.
The next step in automobile electronic and communications technology is vehicle sensor technology. Sensor technologies use radar or laser technology to control systems that detect vehicles in front which then automatically slow down the vehicle. Companies are using sensor technology to serve as collision-avoidance systems that operate and control vehicle safety systems and on-board equipment.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Clean Diesel burning technology is one example of these innovative engine concepts. EPA's testing suggests the potential for a diesel engine design, using innovative air, fuel, and combustion management and conventional particulate matter aftertreatment, to achieve lower NOx levels without the need for NOx after treatment. EPA is developing this technology as a potential alternative with other diesel emissions control approaches (e.g., NOx adsorbers, urea selective catalytic reduction (SCR), etc.).
Clean Diesel burning technology shows the potential to meet NOx levels "engine-out" over the entire engine operating range, to a level required for future diesel emissions standards. EPA has partnered with several automotive and engine manufacturers to evaluate the production feasibility of this technology. Using clean diesel combustion technology in conjunction with the full hydraulic drive is projected to improve fuel economy more than using either technology alone.
Friday, July 24, 2009
EPA is a principal in the application of hydraulics in vehicles. Hydraulic hybrid technology uses a hydraulic energy storage and propulsion system in the vehicle. This hydraulic system captures and stores a large fraction of the energy normally wasted in vehicle braking and uses this energy to help propel the vehicle during the next vehicle acceleration. The hydraulic system also enables the engine to operate more efficiently when it is needed.
Hydraulic hybrids draw from two sources of power to operate the vehicle - the diesel or gasoline engine and the hydraulic components. In other words, a typical diesel-powered or gasoline powered vehicle can be fitted with hydraulic components as a secondary energy storage system. The primary hydraulic components are two hydraulic accumulator vessels (a high-pressure accumulator capable of storing hydraulic fluid compressing inert nitrogen gas and a low-pressure accumulator) and one or more hydraulic pump/motor units.
Benefits of Hydraulic Technology:
Hydraulic drive trains are particularly attractive for vehicle applications that entail a significant amount of stop-and-go driving, such as urban delivery trucks or school buses. A major benefit of a hydraulic hybrid vehicle is the ability to capture and use a large percentage of the energy normally lost in vehicle braking. Hydraulic hybrids can quickly and efficiently store and release great amounts of energy due to a higher power density. This is a critical factor in maximizing braking energy recovered and increasing the fuel economy benefit. While the primary benefit of hydraulics is higher fuel economy, hydraulics also increase vehicle acceleration performance. Hydraulic hybrid technology cost-effectively allows the engine speed or torque to be independent of vehicle speed resulting in cleaner and more efficient engine operation.
Future of Hydraulics:
Hydraulic hybrid systems create a unique opportunity to optimize engine operations. EPA has produced principal concept vehicles that demonstrate the hydraulic technology. One concept vehicle is an urban delivery truck that uses hydraulic "launch assist." This delivery truck retains its conventional engine and transmission, but adds on a hydraulics package optimized for fuel economy. The next generation of hydraulic vehicles involves fully integrating hydraulic technology. In this configuration, the "full" hydraulic hybrid replaces the conventional drive train with a hydraulic drive train and eliminates the need for a transmission and transfer case. Using the full hydraulic drive in conjunction with EPA's clean diesel combustion technology is projected to improve fuel economy even more.
EPA also has achieved major breakthroughs in designing hydraulic accumulators and pump/motors to be more efficient, smaller, and lighter for motor vehicle applications, which will help improve fuel efficiency. EPA currently has cooperative principal and development agreements with several private sector partners to further the development of hydraulics
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Short-toed Eagle is an accomplished flyer and spends more time on the wing than do most members of its genus. It favours soaring over hill slopes and hilltops on updraughts, and it does much of its hunting from this position at heights of up to 500 meters. When quartering open country it frequently hovers like a Kestrel. When it soars it does so on flattish wings.
Its prey is mostly reptiles, mainly snakes, but also some lizards. Occasionally small mammals to the size of a rabbit; rarely birds and large insects.
This eagle is generally very silent. On occasions it emits a variety of musical whistling notes. When breeding it lays only one egg, but can live up to 17 years.
The Short-toed Eagle has suffered a steep decline in numbers and range in Europe and is now rare and still decreasing in several countries due to changes in agriculture and land-use. It needs protection. In the middle and far eastern part of its range this species is not yet threatened.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The NNI creates a framework for a comprehensive nanotechnology R&D program by establishing shared goals, priorities, and strategies, and it provides avenues for each individual agency to leverage the resources of all participating agencies.
Today the NNI consists of the individual and cooperative nanotechnology-related activities of 25 Federal agencies with a range of research and regulatory roles and responsibilities. Thirteen of the participating agencies have R&D budgets that relate to nanotechnology, with the reported NNI budget representing the collective sum of these. The NNI as a program does not fund research; however, it informs and influences the Federal budget and planning processes through its member agencies.
Goals of the NNI
• Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program.
• Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit.
• Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology.
• Support responsible development of nanotechnology.
The ability to image, measure, model, and manipulate matter on the nanoscale is leading to new technologies that will impact virtually every sector of our economy and our daily lives. Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology are enabling promising new materials and applications across many fields. Realizing these possibilities requires continued research and accelerated innovation. The United States has been and is now the recognized leader in nanotechnology R&D, but this lead cannot be assumed to be permanent. Thus, the NNI is as important as ever to ensuring U.S. leadership in nanotechnology R&D.
The NNI has created a thriving nanoscale science and engineering R&D environment within the United States. As a result, scientific understanding of nanometer-scale phenomena has expanded enormously. An extensive network of R&D centers is already established. Commercialization resulting from the NNI-supported research is growing. Yet exploiting the full value that nanotechnology offers depends on sustained R&D. Barriers to innovation and technology transfer need to be lowered. Researchers, educators, and technicians with new skills are required. Furthermore, nanotechnology must be developed responsibly.