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Increasing the energy efficiency of wire production
Drawing thin wire from thick rod is a centuries old industrial process that has elements of being a craft. Bekaert, a master of the art, is able to "transform a 4 meter length of rod to a fiber only a few tens of microns in diameter that will span round the world…". Over recent years it has achieved an average 2% p.a. increase in energy efficiency, an impressive achievement given that the process is already hugely optimised. However, Bekaert is aiming higher, and asked Innovia to look for a breakthrough in energy efficiency.
We explored analogies from other industries, and the fundamental science underlying wire drawing. Our ideas were ambitious and spanned new materials, new processes, and new ways of reusing energy. Through systematic calculation and analysis, we were able to prioritise the ideas and ensure that Bekaert’s investment in practical experimentation was well placed.
Innovia’s unusual approach to front-end innovation created fresh perspective for a 130-year-old industry. As a result of the project, Bekaert initiated five breakthrough energy reduction projects.