Global R&D footprint - Bekaert Annual Report 2010

Global R&D footprint

Global R&D footprint

Strengthening our global R&D footprint

It is Bekaert’s ambition to continuously enhance its innovation capabilities along four main research pillars: new coating technologies, metal transformation technologies, low energy manufacturing and eco-friendly processing. Our two major R&D centers in Deerlijk (Belgium) and in Jiangyin (China) aim to leverage the synergy between these research domains into new developments and products with e.g. superior mechanical properties, advanced surface properties, and related manufacturing processes with minimum environmental impact.

Cross-functional teams bringing together Bekaert staff from technology, engineering and the business units worldwide are the driving force behind our innovation. When it comes to technology and engineering services, Bekaert is clearly opting for a global footprint. It keeps us in close proximity to our customers and allows us to serve them more efficiently. The diversity and complementarity of skills at our Belgian and Chinese R&D centers allow for maximum creativity in our search for new solutions.

In 2010 we inaugurated an eight-story high facility for the over 350 researchers and laboratory technicians at the Bekaert Asia Research and Development Center. In this new building, our Asian R&D flagship center is able to provide fast and focused support to Bekaert's customers and operations, ranging from laboratory services for material analysis, prototype development and production, to specific R&D.

From 'more wire' to 'more than wire': building up knowledge on our customers’ processes

Bekaert aims to optimize the value of its solutions by acquiring an in-depth knowledge of its customers’ processes. By better understanding the different influences and interactions in the customer’s production processes we are able to advise ‘beyond’ the wire. This way we can act like a ‘process partner’ who thinks along with the customer to identify opportunities.

We are working closely together with customers, machine-suppliers, institutes and universities in order to raise and expand our level of know-how. We also call upon the in-house expertise that has built up throughout the years, especially in terms of analysis capabilities for wire geometry and morphology, metallurgical properties and fractures, surface chemistry, etc. For specific offerings we even go so far as to simulate the customer’s production environment at our own premises, by operating there the equipment that the customer uses.

For many years now, we have also been developing fatigue, impact and compression tests in order to simulate the behavior of our steel cord in passenger car or truck tires and advise tire manufacturers accordingly. In doing so, we aim to mirror as much as possible the quality tests our customers are deploying to get products approved.

R&D is the key driver of Bekaert's technological leadership. Its role is not limited to the development of new technologies and processes. It is also essential in the co-development of solutions and applications alongside our customers.

Also in 2010, we inaugurated, in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium, the Bekaert India Technical Center in Ranjangaon (India). We established this center in response to increased demand for steel reinforcement solutions in India driven by tire manufacturing companies wanting to capitalize on the shift towards radial tires.

The center provides tailored support for our customers in India and serves as the ideal environment to set up joint development programs. It offers enhanced technical services in the form of product quality testing, technical assessments and related dedicated assistance.

In addition to our R&D centers in Belgium and China, and our new technical center in India, Bekaert operates technical development centers in Chile, Brazil, the Netherlands and the U.S.

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