Today the Royal Canadian Mint officially opened its plating facility expansion and the Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development. The plating expansion will enable the Mint to increase production of multi-ply plated steel blanks and other advanced plated products by two billion pieces per year, while the Centre of Excellence, which was named for one of the Mint’s most celebrated innovators, will ensure that the Corporation remains at the leading edge of minting technology.
“The Royal Canadian Mint is known as both an innovator and entrepreneurial leader in the international minting community,” said Shelly Glover, Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. “With this significant investment in its Winnipeg operations, the Mint continues to increase its international competitive advantage and as its shareholder, our Government recognizes its endeavors as it expands to pursue even more opportunities in the global marketplace.”
“The Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development will double the Mint’s capacity to innovate and will open new and exciting opportunities to market our proprietary technologies and processes to the benefit of coin customers world-wide,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “The expansion of our state-of-the-art plating facility supports the growth of the Mint’s foreign business as a key priority as we pursue the objective to own 15 percent of global market share by 2020.”
Construction of the 70,000 square expansion began in the fall of 2011 and was led by PCL Constructors Canada Inc., working in conjunction with an extensive network of suppliers and trade workers from Winnipeg. Representing an investment of $60 million, the expansion project generated over 130 local construction jobs in Winnipeg and the Mint anticipates adding several additional positions to its permanent workforce to operate the plating facility once it is fully operational.
The Royal Canadian Mint’s foreign business
In 1918, what was then the Canadian branch of Britain’s Royal Mint produced circulation coins for Jamaica. So began the first of many contracts for international customers encompassing the full spectrum of coin manufacturing and consulting services; from the production of circulation numismatic coins; ready-to-strike blanks; medals, medallions and tokens; to coin distribution management, marketing and communications, and technology transfers. Today, the Royal Canadian Mint’s high volume manufacturing facility in Winnipeg has produced circulation coins and blanks for over 75 countries since opening in 1976.
Under a specialized brand known as SMR&T, the Mint offers its international customers a total coinage solution which is secure, modern, resistant and made of the best technology available, such as its industry-leading multi-ply plated steel (MPPS) technology and advanced security features for circulation and bullion coinage. In addition to marketing world-class coinage products in key markets such as Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, South America and the Caribbean, the Mint employs a world-wide sales network to actively market its unique expertise by licensing technologies and processes, developing foreign partnerships and providing a wide range of consulting services.
The current 70,000 square foot expansion of the Mint's Winnipeg facility will add new plating capacity to support growth anticipated from the execution of foreign circulation coin contracts with customers from dynamic economies seeking our advanced coinage solutions. The growth of the Mint's foreign business is a key priority as the Corporation pursues its objective to own 15 percent of global market share by 2020.
The addition of the permanent Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development to this expanded facility will assist the Mint and its technology partners test and introduce new circulation coin engineering and manufacturing solutions which will continue to distinguish the Mint as an innovator in a highly competitive field, as well as enhance its coinage solution offering. Customers from all over the world will be able to visit this facility to see samples of their products manufactured to their exact specifications before scaling up to full production. Training facilities will also help the Mint share knowledge and technologies as it continues to diversify its suite of coinage solutions for the global market.
The Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research & Development
The Royal Canadian Mint is a global leader in the art and science of producing circulation and numismatic coins as well as bullion products, a position established through its enduring commitment to the research and development of unique products and technologies. The Mint has made a long-term commitment to this strategic priority with an investment that has grown from $800,000 in 2008 to more than $7 million in 2012.
R&D activities support the needs of the Mint’s four business lines: Numismatics & Collectibles; Bullion, Refinery & ETR; Canadian Circulation; and Foreign Business. As such, the Centre of Excellence’s work is structured around two types of technology:
The Mint works with several equipment suppliers such as SECO/WARWICK Group;TECA-Print USA; Signoptic Technologies SAS; FOBA Laser Marking + Engraving Solutions; and ECONOMA Automation Technology to develop technologies featured on tooling and finished products, which allows it to create new revenue streams through royalties from the sale of the technology and equipment. Partnerships with universities and research institutes are another important aspect of the Mint’s R&D program where technological innovations are explored with respected academic partners such as the Faculty of Engineering at the Manitoba Institute of Materials at the University of Manitoba; Ottawa’s Carleton University; the University of Ottawa; and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
- In Ottawa, advanced minting technology with a focus on surface engineering, specialized engraving for numismatics, bullion and refinery;
- In Winnipeg, advanced circulation coinage technologies with a focus on new multi-ply plating technology, new materials and high security technologies for circulation coins.
The newly expanded Winnipeg manufacturing facility is now home to a full-time, state-of-the-art research and development centre which is critical to expanding the Mint’s competitive advantages by improving the Mint’s advanced plating technologies, enhancing the quality and security features of circulation and numismatic coinage, as well as developing new and more efficient processes.
Named after Dr. Hieu C. Truong, the Mint’s new Centre of Excellence recognizes the many diverse contributions of an acclaimed innovator during his 35 year career at the Mint. He is the inventor of the multi-ply plating process of copper and nickel on steel and has directed various teams of engineers to develop hologram technology in minting, 99.999% gold refining, laser virtual imaging, and many other technologies which have made the Mint an undisputed leader for engineering excellence in minting.
As the Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence becomes fully operational by the end of 2013, the R&D team will recruit scientists, engineers and technicians to staff a number of laboratories and facilities within a 5,000 sq. ft. space. This includes:
The training facility in the Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence will allow the Foreign Business Line to deliver consulting, training and other services to customers and partner mints, while a viewing gallery will allow the Mint to demonstrate its full-scale plating line to its many stakeholders and customers.
- A New Technology Applications Laboratory (to prove out new technologies such as improved high-speed coin colouring);
- An Analytical and Physical Testing Laboratory (to test the composition and physical characteristics of materials and their properties such as electro-magnetic signature, and their hardness/durability);
- A Security Features Advancements Laboratory (to enhance coin security features such as micro-engraved laser marks, edge lettering and virtual imaging); and
- A Laboratory-Scale Plating Line (to permit more advanced investigation of new plating materials and “live demonstrate” custom plating applications to customers)
Multi-Ply Plated Steel Technology
Multi-Ply Plated Steel (MPPS) is a technology developed by the Royal Canadian Mint. First introduced in 2000 on Canada’s lower-value circulation coins, this innovative process produces coins which are more secure, visually appealing and durable. MPPS remains unchallenged in today’s marketplace in combining these benefits, which are currently enjoyed by more than 30 different countries, including Singapore, the UAE, Barbados, Ghana, Uganda, Panama, Papua New Guinea and Albania.
After years of proven performance, Canada’s circulation coinage was entirely converted to MPPS technology to include its high-value $1 and $2 circulation coins in April 2012, as part of the Government of Canada’s drive to modernize Canada’s entire currency system.
MPPS coins are composed of a sandwich-like core of steel, plated with alternating layers of different metals such as copper, nickel or brass. By plating the steel core with microns-thick alternating layers of metals, the combination of different metal grains in these layers is more resistant than any other plated or alloy coin in circulation today. By controlling the thickness of each metal layer, one can better control the electro-magnetic signature of each coin denomination to greatly reduce the risk of fraud in a way alloy or mono-plated coins cannot.
An electro-magnetic signature (EMS) is produced when a coin reflects a wave emitted by a coin acceptance mechanism as it passes through a vending machine or a parking meter. These machines recognize the uniform pattern of these reflected waves as a “signature” of a specific denomination from a given series of circulation coins. With MPPS technology, each coin denomination in a series of circulation coins has a specifically engineered composition of alternating metal layers, giving each its own uniform EMS. The EMS is developed by varying the plating thickness of the alternating metal layers covering the steel core, which effectively distinguishes MPPS coins from counterfeits, even if those are of similar size, shape or weight.
This production technique makes coins more secure for automatic coin readers as MPPS coins are extremely reliable for authentication through “automatic acceptance” coin readers in modern vending machines and parking meters.
The Royal Canadian Mint’s growing list of MPPS customers benefit from this unique technology’s superior flexibility to develop unique sets of electromagnetic signatures for new circulation coins, which effectively differentiate them from non-plated alloy coins of the same dimensions and so greatly reduce coin-operated equipment exposure to the risk of fraud.