Flanders Metals Valley Member
Innovation, Industrial solutions and a Vision for the future are the watchwords of the 270 employees of the Centre for Metallurgical Research spread over 11 sites. Since 1948, the CRM Group has been supporting its customers from the creation of ideas to the implementation of innovative solutions by responding to their industrial challenges, whether economic, societal or environmental. In addition to its historical steel mission, CRM Group has added missions on current challenges, divided into 5 platforms: circular economy; energy transition; digitalization; advanced manufacturing; construction. These platforms are aimed at multi-sectoral applications such as defense, chemistry, aeronautics, energy and the environment. With the collaboration of its members and partners – large companies and SMEs – the CRM Group is committed to contributing to a better future.
We combine product, process and application oriented approaches to bring solutions from lab scale to an industrial level with large size simulation tools developed by our engineering department. Risk appraisal and parameter fine tuning can be performed on our pilot line installations for several types of batch and roll-to-roll processes.
In our Energy Shift platform we develop solutions for renewable electricity in parallel with new technologies emerging around hydrogen. The valorisation of biomass and making sure a maximum of waste is transformed into energy is possible on some of our pilot lines. The conversion of heat lost during processing needs to limit the carbon footprint of the energy intensive metal industry. The development of smart grids that connect the different production and consumption elements in the network are crucial to efficiently use and store all produced energy.
Our advanced manufacturing platform combines unique size tools and has opened the horizon to other metals than steel. We currently focus on the development of specific materials that are optimized for the applied technologies. The available techniques are all in the field of direct metal deposition whether for repairing or constructing parts. The actual trend versus hybridization is covered by additional techniques available either on the tools themselves or other installations. The possibility to perform post-treatment or additional coating on complex 3D parts has proven its high added value. Combined with the in-house capacity to characterize the materials or perform dedicated in-use testing and options to check the recycling of used materials this closes the full design cycle.
Our digitalization platform joins all different kinds of competences of CRM Group from very different sectors. Digitalization is as well about industry 4.0 as making smart products. Sensors are developed to identify the data during the process and are selected as function of the complx environment and application. Huge data sets are exploited through models and big data algorithms allow advanced intelligence and machine learning. Some processes profit from augmented reality and people and asset location to work more safely and efficiently. CRM has developed printed (opto)electronics solutions specifically for metal applications. Once objects are connected through these printed circuits IoT management can be introduced.
Within CRM Group circular economy is oriented towards maximizing the value of metals produced and retaining that value during the life cycle as long as possible. It starts with the efficient use and lean production of materials and linked to that eco-design of the application. To optimize the reuse or remanufacturing of materials traceability is a key factor, so material tagging is introduced with the help of digitalization solutions. Recycling of waste to metal with optimal preconditioning methods is the final step in closing the loop of efficiently sourced, produced, traced and reused materials.
Our construction platform relies on 15 years of experience in accompanying steel construction companies. It promotes high performance solutions for the construction market and at the same time integrates the higher demand for green aspects at affordable price into the construction market. This can be based on recycled materials, but also on total cost of ownership or dismantling options of a construction. This platform offers specific know-how on solutions for large construction sites regarding the structures themselves and the building physics, crash dynamics simulations, welding combined with non-destructive testing and tests in extreme conditions.
CRM empowers the role of metals in societal, environmental and economic challenges. We are enthusiastic to join the Flanders Metals valley and co-create a sustainable metals industry in Flanders.
Griet Lannoo // CTO Primary, R&D Program Coordination CRM Group