Our company is venturing into a completely new field with two R&D projects. We are developing recycled products, separation systems, and processes for the manufacture of technically complex products with added natural fibers. The benefits gained include higher added value per employee, increased competitiveness, enhanced employee expertise, new jobs for young professionals, and cooperation with other institutions.
The first one is the “Development of a new technological procedure for the production of demanding products from transparent polycarbonate with at least 50% of secondary waste material for applications in the furniture and electrical industry.” The project was co-financed by the SPIRIT Agency: it contributed 200 thousand euros, and the remaining amount of slightly under 370 thousand, that we provided. The project involving a team of 12 employees was launched last year, and its scheduled completion date is December 31 this year.
The second project is the “Development of recycled material with natural fibers added and a manufacturing process for complex technical products.” This project just started and will last until 6 February 2020. The investment is co-financed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology: we will receive € 220,000 as co-funding for the project. The costs will be partially covered by the project partner, who shall also receive a part of the co-financed funds. This project team also consists of 10–12 employees.
Both projects focus on developing the recyclate for use in complex technical products. In practice, this means that it will be possible to use recycled material in transparent products. It will be achieved with an advanced “machine vision” developed in the project that will separate transparent recyclate granules (and irregular granules). The separated granules will be chemically processed to become a suitable material for a new mechanically robust product.
The result will be an aesthetically pleasing and high-quality product. The aim is therefore the development of separation system and a material that is essentially a recyclate. The second project will, in addition to the recycled material suitable for technically demanding products, focus on developing a process for manufacturing technically demanding products with natural fibers added.
With these two projects, we are entering a completely new field. The granule separation system features advanced algorithms of machine vision with artificial intelligence, which requires powerful processors—it will thus also test processing capacities. The new projects will be a giant step towards combining natural and recycled fibers, covering two branches of sustainability: reusability and natural fibers. The changes introduced are aimed at continually improving product quality and using sustainable materials.
Through improving materials and processes and setting trends, we achieve a greater added value per employee, gain expertise in brand new areas, and enhance the skills and knowledge of our employees. Introducing and developing innovation means increasing the Company’s competitiveness in both the Slovenian and foreign markets. With our own R&D, we are designing new materials and establishing new processes, staying ahead of the curve. The employees involved in these projects will gain valuable knowledge and skills, which will provide a great advantage for future related projects.
Such R&D projects are also a great reference for achieving the status of an R&D supplier among the key customers, while also enhancing our visibility, reputation, and attractiveness.
Both projects are a long-term incentive for employing a large number of experts to deploy the new processes and develop the materials. The R&D projects also mean cooperation with various research institutions, which not only results in new knowledge and established links, but also in meeting students who could potentially join the Company in the future. It allows to retain young professionals in Velenje and Slovenia in general.
Innovative materials and cutting-edge technologies represent a challenge for young professionals and a chance to upgrade their competencies.
Projects co-financing by:
The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund.