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Fast Company Honors CRG Automation Project Among World Changing Ideas

Recognition is latest accolade for Louisville firm


MAY 3, 2022 — LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Fast Company has honored CRG Automation among its 2022 World Changing Ideas awards contest for the company’s work with the Department of Defense to overhaul the destruction of an aging stockpile of the Army’s most dangerous chemical weapons. In partnership with companies including Amentum and Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, the engineers at CRG Automation helped develop a more efficient and safe process to meet the goals established by the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA), which oversees the destruction of the nation’s chemical weapons.

“We feel particularly honored to be representing Middle America on Fast Company’s annual look at forward-thinking companies,” said CRG Automation President James DeSmet. “We’re proof that technology jobs shouldn’t be relegated to America’s coasts. We’re creating high-paying, rewarding employment in a region that drives America’s manufacturing industry.”

Fast Company’s recognition is the latest for CRG Automation. Fast Company also recently honored CRG Automation among the world’s 10 most innovative robotics companies, and Robotics Business Review selected the company as a recipient of the annual RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award. To learn more about the company’s acclaimed robotics work, click here for DeSmet’s interview with The Robot Report’s Steve Crowe.

Inc. Magazine also recently ranked CRG Automation as No. 172 on its annual Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, and Deloitte ranked the company as No. 68 on its Technology Fast 500 list of North America’s most innovative, fastest-growing tech companies. CRG Automation also topped Louisville Business First’s Fast 50 list of rapidly growing area businesses.

Behind the accolades are CRG Automation’s fast growth both in revenue and employment with the company’s revenue rising 2,163% in just two years and employees increasing six-fold in that time frame. The company continues to hire and pays twice the Kentucky average.

Among CRG Automation’s most high-profile projects has been its work with the Department of Defense, which has become a repeat customer. The military’s M55 rockets, which are the last and most deadly of their kind, have warped over time and become prone to leaking their deadly chemical agents. Staring down an aggressive 2023 destruction deadline, the U.S. government took an unprecedented step in mid-2019, rethinking the entire process with the goal of creating a more efficient and safe destruction process. Seeking automation expertise to enhance the use of robots instead of people, the government turned to CRG Automation, best known for building packaging lines for the likes of Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Kraft. CRG Automation helped design an automated system utilizing a series of industrial robots and autonomous mobile robots to improve safety during the destruction process. Additional advances included better identifying and handling leaking rockets, as well as reducing in-person maintenance requirements, lowering the risk of injury.

While CRG Automation continues to offer cartoners, case packers and other packaging equipment, the company now focuses primarily on advanced offerings such as robotic integrations and custom design-build equipment. That shift has taken place as repeat customers approached with more and more complex problems, leading the company’s team of engineers — with specialties such as mechanical, process and electrical — to devise custom engineered solutions, often incorporating advanced robotics.

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. Because CRG Automation understands each customer’s problem is unique, the company assigns an employee to oversee each project from beginning to end, so customers always have a single point of contact throughout design, fabrication, assembly, integration and testing.

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of nearly 3,000 entries across numerous industries around the world.

“We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”