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Acute minds are to reduce waste at steel production plant

The steel production plant aoes A/S in Northern Jutland has made use of a knowledge voucher for collaboration wtih CISS and expect to reduce wastage and save money on steel bars

What do engineers and computer scientists know about steel bars? At the steel production plant aoes in a small village not far from Aalborg University, the answer is: "More than you'd think, actually."

"Our problem is the same as the one many other companies like us experience: when we cut six and twelve meter bars of steel, we end up with a lot of useless bits. But through our local business support office, we made contact with CISS. At first I was thinking 'how should they be able to help us?', but then I read an article about how they solved a similar problem. So now we have sent them a number of shortening lists, and we count on them to simulate a solution on how to reduce wastage. They are supposed to be finished with the programme in the near future," production manager Jens Juul, aoes A/S, explains.

Making house calls

In the summer of 2009, the researchers visited the plant and tested their solution, and Jens Juul was satisfied with what he saw.

"It fully lives up to our agreement. It needed a few minor adjustments, which they were going to go back and fix, and we plan to have the new system up and running before Christmas this year," Jens Jull says.

The production manager admits to large cultural differences between the world of research and a plant working with the removal of chips like aoes, which is a subcontractor to MAN Diesel, among others. "It is my guess that many enterprises such as ours refrain from asking the university for advise – simply because they do not know who to ask," he explains.

But CISS has solved that problem: they make house calls to the companies to introduce themselves, and so far this has led to an impressive series of collaborations with companies who would not normally consider the university as a potential collaborator.

"It is quite obvious that CISS' greatest strength is their will to canvass – and in addition, aoes should be commended for daring to seek new roads in the attempt to become more efficient," trade promotion officer Marianne Gade from the local development council says praisingly. She was the one who set up the meeting between CISS and aoes.

Bottom line figures

"People from the university and business people do not always speak the same language, so we make sure we always go along on visits like that. But we have had great success in matching researchers with companies here in the Municipality of Broenderslev, and several large enterprises participate in long-term research and development projects with the university," Marianne Gade points out.

Companies who, like aoes, have no prior history of collaborationg with the university can make use of the knowledge voucher system. And that is exactly what aoes did. "The results show on the bottom line when you collaborate with the university. If they did not, collaboration would not be desirable," Marianne Gade emphasizes, and Jens Juul agrees. "We expect to gain a significant cost reduction from this project."



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