Robotics system helped military finish ahead of schedule
OCTOBER 24, 2023 — LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — TIME today honored a robotics system developed by CRG Automation among its 2023 Best Inventions. The system, developed in partnership with the Department of Defense, helped safely destroy America’s aging stockpile of chemical weapons ahead of deadlines mandated by international treaties.
In partnership with companies including Amentum and Bechtel, the engineers at CRG Automation devised a system that included more than 2,000 parts to destroy 4.2-inch mortar rounds filled with caustic mustard agent.
“The project was able to safely destroy nearly 47,000 canisters before a convention deadline in September,” noted TIME writer Tara Law in describing the project.
The mustard agent had often caked onto an immovable piece running through the center of the mortar rounds, creating numerous challenges in ensuring the weapons’ safe destruction. The team’s newly designed system, dubbed the Improved Cavity Access Machine, both extracted the liquified mustard agent while also washing the solidified mustard off the immovable piece, all the while making sure that none of it leaked.
“This was a series of complexities we had never dealt with before,” said CRG Automation President James DeSmet, a veteran of the United States Merchant Marines. “We knew this was an opportunity unlike any other, and, even staring down the aggressive deadline, we knew we could do it.”
CRG Automation’s work on the mustard agent-filled rounds followed a similar project the company worked on involving the destruction of VX and sarin rockets at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant near Richmond, Kentucky.
TIME’s recognition is the latest for CRG Automation. Fast Company magazine has honored the company’s work as part of its annual World Changing Ideas contest and also named CRG Automation among the world’s 10 most innovative robotics companies with Robotics Business Review also selecting the company as a recipient of the annual RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award.
Inc. Magazine has honored the company three years running among its Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, and CRG Automation also has topped Louisville Business First’s Fast 50 list of rapidly growing area businesses.
The company’s 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, features a controls and machine shop, plus the floor space required to build proofs of concept and set up and conduct performance testing for complete packaging and processing lines.
About CRG Automation
Whatever you make, CRG Automation helps you make it better. The company’s team of experienced engineers and assemblers understand each problem is unique, so they delve into what’s keeping organizations of all types — everything from beverage bottlers and distillers to the Department of Defense — from becoming more efficient and devise custom solutions. CRG Automation not only develops new systems but also re-engineers and rebuilds existing ones to meet customers’ changing needs.