In 1995 the competence centre, CHARMEC, Chalmers Railway Mechanics, was established at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The members of CHARMEC, apart from Chalmers University of Technology, are 11 private companies within the railway industry together with the Swedish Transport Administration. The board of CHARMEC consists of one representative from each company.
The research within CHARMEC is mainly done as PhD projects that run over a period of five years. So far about 30 university students have obtained their PhD degree within CHARMEC and over 400 scientific papers have been published. CHARMEC has also had a major role in EU project such as Innotrack. Heidelberg Materials Precast Abetong has been an industrial partner since the start of CHARMEC and has over the years continuously had at least one PhD-project running with special focus on topics related to sleepers.
The engagement of Heidelberg Materials Precast Abetong in CHARMEC has given a broad knowledge of the entire track structure where the sleeper is one important component that interacts with the rest of the track structure during a train passage. The knowledge gained by being involved in CHARMEC and in this type of projects secures Heidelberg Materials Precast Abetongs front position in the world within production and design of concrete sleepers.