CHARMEC is a Centre of Excellence, or Competence Centre (in Swedish: Kompetenscentrum), in Railway Mechanics established at Chalmers University of Technology. Although railway research has been carried out since 1987, the start date for CHARMEC can be said to be when the formal agreement was signed at The Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development (NUTEK) in Stockholm on 7 July 1995.
Parties involved in CHARMEC
Chalmers University of Technology
Chalmers is represented on the Board by Sinisa Krajnovic and Violeta Roso.
Trafikverket the Swedish Transport Administration
Represented on the Board by Otto Andersson (Chair) and Melker Pettersson.
The Industrial Interests Group
- Abetong: a HeidelbergCement Group company and concrete sleeper manufacturer with headquarters in Växjö. Represented on the Board by Rikard Bolmsvik
- Alstom: an international train manufacturer with a global presence and has its headquarters located in Paris. Represented on the Board by Roger Deuce
- Green Cargo: a railway freight operator with headquarters in Stockholm. Represented on the Board by Markus Gardbring
- Lucchini Sweden: a wheelset manufacturer located in Surahammar. Represented on the Board by Erik Kihlberg
- SJ: an operator of passenger trains with headquarters in Stockholm. Represented on the Board by Susanne Rymell
- SweMaint: a maintainer of freight wagons with headquarters in Gothenburg (owned by Kockums Industrier). Represented on the Board by Tilo Reuter
- Systra: an international consulting company with Swedish headquarters in Malmö. Represented on the Board by Markus Meinel
- voestalpine Schienen: an Austrian manufacturer of rails with headquarters in Leoben and Vienna. Represented on the Board by Björn Drakenberg
- voestalpine VAE: an Austrian manufacturer of switches with headquarters in Zeltweg and Vienna.
- Wabtec: an international manufacturer of braking systems with Swedish headquarters in Landskrona. Represented on the Board by Fredrik Blennow
The director of CHARMEC is Anders Ekberg. Previous directors were Roger Lundén (March 1997 – October 2012) and Bengt Åkesson (July 1995 – March 1997).
Chairman of the board is Ingemar Frej of Trafikverket. Previous chairmen were Annika Renfors of Trafikverket, Tomas Ramstedt of Banverket (January 2009 – December 2012) and Björn Paulsson of Banverket (July 1995 – December 2008).
From the start in 1995 the responsibility to manage the Swedish Competence Centres Programme belonged to NUTEK and later VINNOVA. VINNOVA's administrative involvement in CHARMEC ceased by 30 June 2006 and its role was then taken over by Banverket (now Trafikverket).
Within its area of competence, the Centre works for the long-term build-up of knowledge that is relevant to the needs of the industry. The choice and orientation of the individual research projects are being decided on the basis of overall assessments of:
Overall goal of the centre
- Achieve increased quality in railway transportation
- Lower production, maintenance, operational and environmental costs
The interaction of various railway mechanical components is given special consideration.
- Life-cycle optimized components
- Systems for track structure and running gear
The research should for example result in
- Slower degradation of ballast
- Increased operational life of sleepers and pads
- Improved track alignment stability
- Reduced rail and wheel deterioration
- Lower levels of vibration and noise in trains and tracks and their surroundings
- Improved systems for monitoring and operation of bearings, brakes and wheels etc
National and international cooperation with parallel and supporting competences will continue and will be increased. In the Centre it is possible to make contributions to areas that are central and basic to railway mechanics and in which, up to now, none of the individual members of the Industrial Interests Group together with Trafikverket and the University has been able to shoulder total responsibility.
The scientific quality of research results is assured through:
- public exposure and criticism at national licentiate seminars and defence of doctoral dissertations
- presentation of papers at recognized international conferences
- publishing of papers in recognized international journals
The transfer of knowledge to industry takes place by means of:
- regular personal contacts
- exchange of staff
- orientation and summarizing at seminars
- informative reports and the handing over of test results and computer programs
An extremely important aspect of this transfer of knowledge will be the employment in the industry of those who have gained licentiate's and doctor's degrees at the University.