Global footprint

global footprint

Serving customers across the globe with dedicated R&D teams

Bekaert has clearly opted for a global footprint for its technology and engineering services. Apart from our main R&D and Engineering centers in Belgium and China, we operate development labs in the Netherlands, Chile, India and in the U.S.

In addition to these initiatives, we also established a focused regional development center in Brazil to respond to growing demand in the domestic market there for hi-tech wire solutions. As for the other emerging market India, we will be putting Bekaert’s first and only steel cord technical center in the region, the Bekaert India Technology Center (BITC), into service in March 2010 in Pune.

Global cooperation is paramount to succeed. Tackling technology projects via different locations involves a number of benefits: because of the close proximity to our customers, we are able to serve them faster and more efficiently; the complementary skills of our R&D centers in Belgium and in China can be capitalized and the diversity further enhances the constant search for new and better solutions.

To boost our R&D efforts we have earmarked € 10 million towards the realization and expansion of state-of-the art R&D facilities in Belgium and China. In both countries we have set up new laboratories for materials analysis as well as 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 of times.

In China several major projects were executed to support local product and process developments in close collaboration with the Technology Center in Belgium and technical support to all production sites in Asia has been set up. To support this strong business growth in China and the rest of Asia, the corporate technology organization, based in Jiangyin, Jiangsu province, has been accommodated in a new building which was constructed in the course of 2009.

Our highly qualified scientists and engineers of our Technology Centers work closely together with lead customers on new product development. The Bekaert Asia R&D Center in Jiangyin, China has been accommodated in a new building.

Our state-of-the-art materials lab, chemical lab, and mechanical lab in our R&D Centers in Belgium and China supply fast and accurate test results to support customer-driven research projects.

Customer-driven fast and long-term innovation

Innovation at Bekaert is customer driven, it responds to the basic and latent needs of our customers, both existing and prospective. Listening closely to our customers and understanding how our products function in their products and their production lines is key to developing fit-for-use products. Furthermore, we aim to be fast in our development and reduce our time to market as much as possible. To achieve this, we have adopted a structured approach based on the Bekaert Innovation Process to ensure we develop the right products in the shortest possible timeframe.

Cooperation with other parties leads to faster innovation, to finding complementary knowledge and capacities, and to more cost-effective R&D. In 2009 Bekaert was involved in the set-up and the first project-call of the Strategic Initiative Materials (SIM) in Flanders (Belgium). A public/private R&D initiative aiming at stimulating high-level and medium- to long-term R&D leveraged between industry, public research institutes and universities in Flanders.

In China more intense R&D cooperation was created with the Institute of Metals Research (IMR) - Chinese Faculty of Sciences.

To keep our efforts in technology and innovation focused in the long term, we appointed innovation managers throughout the whole organization. They have a unique mission to foster the process of new idea generation. The goal is to fill the product pipeline and the long-term product portfolio with market-driven innovation so that we can make the most of promising future opportunities. Their ideas are presented to a New Business Development Council, in which the senior management – focused on both technology and business – thoroughly but quickly assesses and discusses innovative proposals and selects and funds the ideas that are to be developed further. Thanks to this efficient filtering process, a number of these ideas rapidly find their way to the production plants. Other promising ideas are channeled to our Technology Center where they are integrated into existing or new projects.

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