Charleville-Mézières: at the heart of innovation for Danish industrial giant Wheelabrator
Aeronautics specialist Wheelabrator has had its product innovation centre in French Ardennes for almost 30 years. It is now a world-renowned player in the field of shot peening, a process that provides improved fatigue resistance for highly stressed components.
Wheelabrator is a world leader in surface preparation technology. Its compressed-air and turbine-powered shot-blasting machines project metal or ceramic media onto (mainly) metal surfaces to strengthen the material or clean and prepare the surface for coating.
Its machines and processes are used in many sectors around the world (including aerospace, automotive, energy, maritime, rail and medical). Wheelabrator's research centre in French Ardennes has major customers in the automotive and aerospace sectors, including bif ones such as Safran and Rolls-Royce.
These collaborations are fuelling the growth of the Ardennes innovation centre headed by Yves Dufour. Its team of nearly 70 staff focuses on high-precision CNC compressed-air and robotic shot-blasting technologies for aeronautical manufacturing and maintenance centres.
The various technologies cover the most demanding requirements essential for jet engines, landing gears and structural parts (such as wing panels). These applications developed for the aerospace industry are often transferred to the automotive sector. The Charleville-Mézières centre offers a complete range of standardised, tried-and-tested equipment for gear blasting (the CFX product range).
In 2008, the Wheelabrator Group merged with DISA (a supplier of moulding equipment and foundry technology) to form the Norican Group. Since then, the group has continued to expand its technical offering by acquiring three other world-renowned brands: ItalPresseGauss (aluminium die-casting), StrikoWestofen (high-efficiency furnaces) and Simpson (mixing technology).
Today, Norican Group is a leader in many industrial processes worldwide. The group is highly active in the digital transformation and decarbonisation of industrial sectors and supply chains. The Charleville-Mézières technology hub plays a key role in this, facilitating advances in aeronautics and e-mobility.
Responding as quickly as possible to customer requirements, diversifying and constantly innovating are the key factors behind the success of the jewel in French Ardennes' industrial crown.
By Ardennes Développement, the Ardennes economic development agency - ardennes-developpement.com