Green and lean performance

Green and lean performance

Engineering for green and lean performance

Bekaert Engineering in Ingelmunster (Belgium) further increased its efforts focusing on ergonomics, safety, lowering energy consumption and reducing environmental impact. In 2010 we launched several prototypes in industrial settings. These offer promising results in terms of energy-savings, both for plant equipment and infrastructures. The start-up of our steel cord plant extension in Shenyang (Liaoning Province, China) is a striking example of the efforts deployed in the second year of our Energy R&D project.

The activities of Bekaert Engineering grew further in 2010, as a new assembly line was commissioned at our Pune plant (India) and the existing design activities expanded. In Jiangyin (Jiangsu Province, China) we are building a new assembly workshop. Plans are to move all Jiangyin-based Bekaert Engineering activities to the new building in the second quarter of 2011. Here as well, the design department was expanded. These initiatives are crucial to keep supporting the expansion of Bekaert activities worldwide.

In both our wire and our steel cord activities we finalized a number of new projects, marketing new products with high added value to our customers. Several of these projects were completed in close collaboration with external research centers such as the Flanders’ Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) and Ghent University (Belgium).

Within our steel cord operations, we further extended Global Asset Maintenance Management (GAMM) with excellent results in the areas of standardization, spare parts management, energy reduction and the uptime of machines and installations.

To streamline operations we migrated the complete ERP system of Bekaert Engineering – for both the Jiangyin (China) and Ingelmunster (Belgium) sites – to the Bekaert SAP platform in the course of 2010.

One of the elements that differentiates Bekaert from the competition is the fact that we have an own engineering department on a global level that designs and develops total plant layouts and production lines.

A broader product portfolio through innovation, with a clear focus on eco-friendly solutions

Our investments in R&D have been yielding results year after year in the form of new products and processes contributing to the growth of Bekaert. Increasingly, environmental concerns are influencing our business and our innovation strategy. This is illustrated by the many ‘green’ R&D projects conducted by Bekaert, e.g. in wind energy (wind turbines) and recycling (re-usable filtration products). Below are some examples of new products that have been successfully introduced in 2010 in a wide range of industries.

In automotive we made significant progress in developing higher strength steel cord. In tire applications, ultra tensile means less use of rubber, leading to a reduction in weight and rolling resistance. All these factors contribute to a reduction in vehicle fuel consumption. For the upcoming electrical cars this means a clear advantage in increased mileage.

For our customers in the energy and utilities industry, in 2010 we achieved further advances in the development of shaped wires used in offshore flexible pipes. We invented a fundamentally new process which allows us to reach hitherto impossible mechanical properties. Once again Bekaert delivers a breakthrough to its customers, as such wires are subjected to increasingly higher technical requirements.

As for our sawing wire activity for the photovoltaics industry, a new milestone was achieved in our labs when the tensile strength of very thin sawing wire was raised even further. This opens new horizons in the improvement of wafering processes, in cutting accuracy and speed increase.

In 2010, after several years of intensive R&D and extensive field testing from Chile to Japan, we introduced fish farming mesh to cater to the growing marine fish farming activity. We can now offer a solution with clear advantages in wear time, anti-fouling, protection against natural predators and ease of installation.

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