Developing better together…

... for cleaner production processes

The need for more sustainable solutions in energy and materials consumption is a major force in the innovation-driven culture at Bekaert. We therefore put a lot of effort into making our plants and processes more environmentally friendly. We do our utmost to remove hazardous materials from our production processes. We continue our search for alternative, environmentally friendly coatings. In 2012 we launched several projects that further reduce emissions, waste residue, or the consumption of chemicals and materials. A fine example thereof is the lead-free galvanization line recently installed in our manufacturing plant in Peru. The 240 meters long line was developed and assembled by Bekaert Engineering in cooperation with Bekaert’s applied technology teams. This first-of-its kind technology puts us ahead of the ever stricter environmental regulations around the world. It also ensures a new level of production efficiency and performance excellence.

We also help our customers improve their production processes. Among other things, we developed coatings for our wires that eliminate production steps at the customers’ sites, making their processes cheaper. For certain applications we applied ternary alloy coatings that eliminate the use of certain materials by our customers, helping them making their processes cleaner too.

... for innovation in partnership

Co-development is what best typifies Bekaert’s innovation efforts in 2012: co-development of new processes, together with Bekaert Engineering, co-development of new wire rod specifications together with key suppliers, and joint innovation projects with customers, serving both partners’ needs.

Innovation in a nutshell 

  • In 2012 we invested € 69 million in R&D.
  • 400 R&D specialists of various nationalities work on customer-driven research projects.
  • We have Technology Centers in Belgium and China and various development labs around the world.
  • 50 first patent applications were filed in the course of 2012, a record number for Bekaert.

... for efficient new start-ups

Bekaert’s R&D centers are equipped with laboratories for materials analysis, as well as with pilot plants. Extensive testing of new materials and products in these pilot plants allows us to roll them out to our production platforms worldwide without the initial difficulties that typically arise during a new start-up. Operational aspects, too, are a key focal point during this testing; not only do we aim to deliver a new high-quality product or material, we also thoroughly look into all the aspects that allow us to produce it in large volumes in the shortest time.

  

In 2012 Bekaert invested in a fifth pilot plant at the Technology Center of Deerlijk (Belgium). Typical for this newest addition is the full incubator concept: not only are new products, processes and equipment developed and tested in this pilot plant, they are perfected before a move to production is considered. The equipment is entirely debugged and the product quality finetuned and approved before the roll-out to the manufacturing environment takes place.


Acknowledgement

We wish to thank the Flemish government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) as well as the Belgian Federal government. Their subsidies & incentives for R&D projects, involving highly-educated scientific personnel and researchers in Flanders are pivotal in securing the foothold of our R&D activities in Belgium.

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