Technological innovation is the result of ongoing dialogue between the various areas involved in product development, i.e.:
- the marketing function, which provides information about the customer’s specific requirements and market trends;
- the product platforms function, which defines the product structure to meet both market needs and those of the different application segments in which the group operates;
- the competence centres, which define the technological solutions that meet the customers’ requirements in an innovative manner.
CAREL R&D activities are carried out at three dedicated sites in Italy, China and the US, specialised in HVAC/R, humidification, electronics, power electronics and precision mechanics applications. Each R&D centre has five competence centres focused on developing technical knowledge in five areas. The thermodynamic competence centre is part of the knowledge centre, which is where new technologies are researched and products are tested, such as for example the new natural refrigerants.
The laboratories in Italy, China and the US play a fundamental role in developing innovation. There are 11 of them: three thermodynamic laboratories, three humidification laboratories, two electronics laboratories, two power electronics laboratories and one valves laboratory.
At 31 December 2018, the group’s R&D department has 193 engineers and technicians, equal to 13% of its workforce.
The group’s commitment to continuous innovation in designing high efficiency solutions reduces the environmental impact of machinery and plant and increases the efficiency of its customers’ systems. It has invested an average of 5.8% of its revenue in R&D in the last three years.
Over the last three years, the R&D unit has worked on more than 20 product development projects a year and over 600 customisation projects for customers. The group’s intellectual property is protected by 29 patents (requested or granted), five of which are for innovative solutions designed in 2018.
They also cover new applications for other environments which CAREL applies to solutions of interest to its customers.
R&D activities are also carried out through long-standing partnerships with the Padua University (in areas ranging from analogue and digital electronics to power electronics, system and control theory, thermodynamic applications, technical physics and mechanical production processes to data statistical analyses), the CNR (National Research Institute) and the most important sector associations such as EPEE (European Partnership for Energy and Environment), AICARR (Italian Association of Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration), ASHRAE (American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), AHRI (Air-conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute) and EHPA (European Heat Pump Association).