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RHI Magnesita’s research center in York (Pennsylvania, USA) focuses on Development and is driven by a small but successful team of highly performance-oriented researchers. Its main areas of research are Doloma based bricks, Basic monolithics, Magnesia based bricks unburned, Alumina monolithics/Precast shapes and Raw Materials.
Mark Loeffelholz, Head of R&D North America, has given us some insights into the characteristics and specialties of the R&D center in York.
1). What is special about your R&D center?
York R&D concentrates more on “Development” than “Research” – focusing on shorter-term results for our company. We are currently a relatively small team, however, we are planning to grow our structure to provide even faster and more efficient local support to all of our customers and plants in the USA, Mexico and Canada.
2). Which fields of research are you focusing on?
The research focus is on doloma based bricks and monolithics, which is natural considering the outstanding dolomite raw material that RHI Magnesita mines and dead burns in York.
3). The objectives of the TAC are to bring in new expertise and knowledge from outside, to strengthen the ties to the external world of technology and open up the innovation process. Which key partners are you collaborating with internally (departments) and externally? Why is this important?
As a relatively small team, it is absolutely critical that we have access to outside expertise and knowledge. We rely on collaboration and constant interaction with our colleagues in our R&D hubs in Leoben (Austria) and Contagem (Brazil). Our interactions with the Raw Material Support team are also very enlightening. The Technical Marketing team serves as our eyes and ears to the markets, providing feedback on product performance and helping to guide our R&D efforts. Externally, RHI Magnesita is a member of the PSMRC (Peaslee Steel Manufacturing Research Center) at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. The scope of this industry-funded consortium includes rindustry funded consortiumindustry funded consortiumindustry funded consortium industry funded consortiumefractory research projects.
4). “To act customer focused and innovatively” is one of our cultural themes. What does this mean concretely for your R&D center?
Our primary mission in York is to provide a high level of service to our customers. We provide product related support to Sales and Operations, and raw materials related support to the Purchasing/Supply Chain team. Our efforts ultimately guarantee best and high-class quality products and are essential to create value for our customers.