A diesel engine manufacturer in Aiken County is now equipped to simulate the conditions of the North Pole, even if temperatures register into the minus-100-degree range.
It took Tognum America Inc. less than a year to complete a 19,300-square-foot research and development center at its MTU Aiken plant in Sage Mill Industrial Park. The facility houses two combustion air-controlled test cells that can imitate various applications and load demands on new engines.
“We will be able to develop off-highway diesel engines for applications in environments all over the world and optimize them according to the regulations of any country in the world,” said Tognum America’s vice president of operations, Joerg Klisch. “We can simulate a copper mine in the mountains of Chile where the air is cold and thin or a gold mine located in the dry and hot desert of Nevada.”
The center, which is Tognum’s first such facility in North America, can test engines used in mining, commercial marine, rail and industrial settings that top 6,000 horsepower. The research and development center helps provide cleaner and more efficient diesel engines.
Tognum America moved from Detroit to Graniteville in 2010 into a vacant 270,000-square-foot plant. In the past three years, the company has invested about $80 million in the Aiken operation and added more than 270 jobs. The latest project cost about $40 million, creating 20 high-skilled engineering positions.
“It means jobs,” said Will Williams, the director of the Economic Development Partnership that serves Aiken and Edgefield counties. “It means people working, feeding their families. It means a growing and thriving community, and it means that our workforce is skilled and the environment has been established for manufacturing to be successful.”
The expansion also produced an administration building, parking lot and new entrance off Bettis Academy Road.
An apprenticeship program has been established for high school students to receive classroom technical training and first-hand experience working at the Aiken plant.