Norwegian Centre of Expertise Raufoss
More than one hundred years of experience with international industrial development forms the background for the Raufoss industrial cluster, NCE Raufoss. The cluster’s core area of activity is the manufacturing of products in lightweight materials by automated production, and the goal is to develop a national resource centre. The industrial cluster at Raufoss currently consists of over 50 companies with more than 5,000 employees. The group’s total turnover amounts to roughly NOK 14 billion, of which exports comprise some 80%.
Norwegian Centres of Expertise (NCE) is an ambitious venture which has produced a number of good results. There are twelve such centres in Norway. They are appointed by the Government and the program is run by the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway and SIVA. The criteria for being a NCE-cluster are well defined and only research and develop oriented clusters with growth potential and a large share of export are qualified. NCE Raufoss has been a part of the program since it first started up in 2006.
Based on solid traditions
The history of the Raufoss industry goes back to late 19th century and the production of matches. In the build up to Norway’s independency to Sweden in 1905 the tension between the two neighbours rose. The Norwegian Government decided to place the ammunition plant in Raufoss, protected from the Swedish threat behind Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa. This was the real start of more than one hundred years of industry adventure. The military defence industry has always played an important role in the Raufoss industry, today it is represented by Nammo. However, in the second half of the 20th century the civilian industry started to grow steadily, especially the automotive industry. Raufoss soon became an important manufacturer and supplier to the European market, and later to the US and Asian automotive industry. The core competence in the Raufoss industry developed to be manufacturing of lightweight materials by automated production. In 2006 the cluster got the status as Norwegian Centre of Expertise based on the cluster’s knowledge within these fields and the cluster’s ability to innovate continuously and develop and market new products. Today NCE Raufoss is a supplier to a wide range of industries. This has created a good foundation to let the Raufoss industry adventure continue.
A strong cluster
The core of NCE Raufoss is located in Raufoss Industrial Park. However, as a positive result of being a centre of expertise the cluster has expanded. Mustad Longline, Topro and Hapro are all companies located outside the park and although the companies have a lot in common with the traditional Raufoss industry they didn’t start cooperating until NCE Raufoss saw the light of day. In addition the TotAl-group, a network of 41 companies in the Norwegian aluminium industry, also got closer connected through its membership in NCE Raufoss. In other words, there are no doubts that NCE Raufoss has strengthened the manufacturing industry in Raufoss and in Norway. By having developed an arena where sharing of knowledge and competence between companies takes place, each single company becomes more competitive and NCE Raufoss becomes more attractive for employees.
Research and Development
One of the main pillars of NCE Raufoss is innovation through research and development. This has been a key building stone in the history of the Raufoss industry and has got an even greater importance in NCE Raufoss. SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS plays an essential part in this work. Besides being the manager of NCE Raufoss the company has grown to be a substantial supplier of research to the Norwegian manufacturing industry. NCE Raufoss has built a portfolio of research projects which involve both the manufacturing industry and academia to help the industry cluster innovate continuously.
The competence of tomorrow
NCE Raufoss concentrates on the future challenges. This is the reason why the industry cluster has started cooperating with educational institutions to be sure they get the future competence they need. Both in Gjøvik University College and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology there have been developed bachelor and master programs in cooperation with NCE Raufoss. This is also in the interest of the academic institutions as they in a better way get to know the challenges in the manufacturing industry. In Gjøvik University College the bachelor students get the opportunity to practice their skills in an early stage of their studies by working in an industry company within NCE Raufoss. Both the companies and the students benefits from this cooperation.
The joint R&D company plays an essential part in the development of NCE Raufoss. The stock holders represent all the agents of the so called triple helix model. The model explains the interdependency between academia, government and industry in creating an environment for innovation. SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS has increased the number of employees from 30 to 85 during the period of NCE Raufoss. The company is now located in Trondheim in addition to the headquarters at Raufoss, focusing mainly on materials- and production technology.
A resource centre
The establishing of NCE Raufoss has developed and strengthened SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS to become an important resource centre for the industry cluster, both when it comes to the daily operation and future technology development. There are built common laboratories where research and testing on material technology, process development, product verification and automation take place.
SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS takes advantage of using world class competence when they involve in the companies projects and daily operations. This brings more knowledge into the firms, which enables NCE Raufoss in taking a national position in manufacturing.
The SINTEF group is the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia and has been involved in activity in Raufoss since 2001, in line with the organisation’s policy in contributing to regional development. However, in 2008 SINTEF concluded that the interaction in the triple helix model was a very well functioning receipt for industrial development in Raufoss.
In addition to the fact that the Raufoss industry cluster was appointed a Norwegian Centre of Expertise, it made SINTEF see that SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS was ready to take the position as a national centre of competence within manufacturing. Today, companies all over Norway request for support from the R&D company.
The ownership of SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS is complimentary. In 2009 the industrial side got strengthened by Hydro and the Benteler Group when the two companies also were buying shares in the company. The goal is to further improve in manufacturing, innovation and product development. All the other industrial owners have been involved in the company from the start, which gives the company commitment and impulses from the global industry. All in all the industrial owners, together with SIVA and SINTEF, are a solid platform for further growth.
The annual Sillongen Conference
The Sillongen Conference is an annual conference at Toten Hotel nearby Raufoss where all partners in the Norwegian manufacturing industry meet. The conference was first held in 2004 and has during the period of NCE Raufoss grown to be an important arena for the industry, government, academia and politicians to network and dialog about the future challenges of the industry. The conference has both national and international participants.