Bombardier opens technology test centre in St-Bruno

Bombardier Inc. launched its rail prototype centre – technology test centre – Monday, a technology proving ground for which the firm has hired 197 employees since January.

The centre is distinct from Bombardier Transportation’s adjacent R&D centre in St-Bruno, but will be the real-world test ground for products developed by the rail group’s engineers.

Premier Pauline Marois was at the inauguration of the new $11-million centre, to which Quebec contributed $1.77 million. The centre will be devoted to “technology demonstrations,” the middle part of a technology for which Canada’s aerospace sector is asking aid from governments.

Bombardier Transportation spokesperson Marc Laforge said the centre, announced in June 2011, will “validate concepts” and “concretize” the technology devised by the 800 engineers and other head office employees in St-Bruno.

Bombardier is the world’s largest trainmaker. Despite its head office in Berlin to service Europe, the world’s largest rail market, all engineering worldwide is done in St-Bruno. Laforge said despite the 200 new jobs, “it doesn’t mean the centre will employ 200 people — they will come and go according to the needs of contracts.”

Marois said the centre would help preserve Bombardier’s pre-eminent market position in North America, and that Quebec’s subsidy constitutes a judicious investment.

Laforge said the $11-million centre would help reduce major problems with contracts by acting as an early-detection platform for glitches and anomalies.

“It also allows us to reduce the time between design conception and factory production, and to avoid modifications once you’re in production mode. It’s also a heck of a lot less expensive than to bring in cars for repair after they’re in service,” he said.

Bombardier Transportation is an integrator, and about 60 per cent of the contents of its products come from suppliers. Bombardier could hire more people if the company snags more deals, he said. As announced in June 2011, the firm will also build an $8-million 600-metre test track at its factory in La PocatiÚre. The track will test cars for the Montreal métro as well as light rail cars for the BART system in the San Francisco area.

In 2011, Raymond Bachant, president of Bombardier Transportation for North America, said Bombardier may also receive aid in the form of tax credits. But Ottawa did not contribute to the project in the end, as Bachant had hoped.


Source : MontrealGazette

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