Discover how CPM’s Crown is sustainably fueling the future of industry, one innovation at a time

Since 1878, CPM’s Crown Iron Works (Crown) has been innovating for a better future. As Kris Knudson, President and General Manager at CPM Engineered Solutions, begins: “The company started off as a family-owned iron forger located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then, after the Second World War, the family decided to transition the company and move into process technology, primarily oil seed processing.

“In 2008, Crown was acquired by CPM, which helped the company to develop its processes even further. We were able to incorporate industry-leading brands from sister business units and state-of-the-art equipment like flakers, crackers and pellet mills, all of which have been incorporated into our solution based projects.”

Under the CPM umbrella, Crown has been able to branch out into a variety of different sectors, as Kris explains: “The Crown brand is a key business unit within CPM. In 2018, we broke ground on a new global headquarters in Blaine, Minnesota. Our vision was to match the great resources and talent we already had within the business with even more advanced equipment and tools, helping the brand forge a new way forward. In 2019, we opened our official global headquarters and innovation center. It saw immediate success. Over the past three and a half years we’ve had extremely strong customer engagement, and consistent demand for our team and resources. To help expand our offering, we have been building a new internal team to manage research and development.

“The innovation center is continually changing and growing. We’re always in various stages of construction, branching out into new areas and capabilities. Our latest innovation is our liquid processing unit, which includes a liquids tower and pre-treatment bay. The pilot plant now manages all of our core unit operations, but our work is far from done. We are going to continue investing, growing and adapting — that’s the commitment you make as innovators.”

Creative, curious, and innovative
Today, CPM and its brands are creating innovative and sustainable fuel solutions for customers across a range of industries, from renewable fuels and biomass to biogas and waste. “For us, it always starts with the customers and markets that we serve. The first step of any development process is listening. We do our due diligence, analyze mega trends, and try to marry that with our true capability. It’s all about providing a unique value.

“There’s lots of opportunities in the world of sustainability at the moment. As process engineering experts, we are able to continually optimize our clients’ processes in order to drive down utility consumption. We also work on more efficient ways for customers to create and distribute their end products. We’ve established four specific commercial segments within CPM Engineered Solutions which is the business area that brings Crown innovations and technologies to market. We have the specialty segment, in which a dedicated team of experts strategically use core technology and industry know-how to work on bespoke client projects. We also have segments dedicated to our core capabilities of crush, liquids, and aftermarket and field services. These include preparation, solid, liquid solvent extractions, and liquid purifications for edible oils, biofuels, and oleochemicals.

“We’ve been able to adapt our technology and processes to new markets outside the oil seed industry. A good example of that would be textile recycling. The textile industry in the west is trending toward recycled materials as part of a broader sustainability effort. In response to this, we worked within CPM’s other business units to gain insights into the preparation equipment and adapted our technology that we use to extract soybean oil from the soybeans so that it can be used for testing material capabilities in the textile market. There are other commercial markets that are looking to re-use materials in a similar way, for example waxes that are intertwined with something else can be extracted and repurposed. If it is a solid and has a liquid component, we most likely have the knowledge and resources to extract.

“These successes come from the creative, curious and innovative environment that CPM’s Crown has cultivated. Our people have the drive and know-how to competently test processes, gather data, collect samples, and expand the capabilities of our technology. We’re showing customers what our systems can actually do, and it’s far more than ever imagined,” Kris enthuses.

Pushing boundaries
As more and more businesses look for sustainable operating solutions, CPM stays one step ahead. As Bill Morphew, Global Vice President of Sales in Engineered Solutions’ Liquid Segment, discusses: “We’ve been on a long journey with sustainability. Our focus started off with biodiesel, and that experience with biofuels has led us to where we are today, with renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It’s really interesting to see how those ideas have grown and developed. It shows how dedicated we are to new ideas and always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It also makes us industry experts; we’ve been working on renewable fuel sources for over 30 years, and we’ve had a dedicated team specifically working on RD and SAF since 2018.

Meeting market demands
“Our work in this area is centered around pre-treatment for RD and SAF technologies,” Kris adds. “It was a logical step for us because it tied directly into our strategy for the liquid segment, and so we were already adding those capabilities and resources to our innovation center.

“Additionally, CPM’s varied capabilities and innovative attitude meant that we were able to closely align our work on biofuels with other capabilities, providing customers with a holistic solution. Our different teams work really closely with one another, so if a customer requires a solution that spans different departments, they are adept at connecting those dots and providing a complete, multi-faceted solution.”

Keeping one eye to the future has helped CPM’s Crown distinguish itself as a pioneer of industry. Always thinking ahead, Bill shares his ideas about what’s next for the company: “Our strategy will be to continue growing and expanding, always with the goal of providing a full-service offering to our customers. We know that there’s an opportunity in the markets to provide long-term support through site assessments, annual shutdowns, and training, so we will be investing in more of these innovations to help our customers succeed.

“We will also continue working collaboratively at CPM, focusing on mega trends and market demands. It’s always exciting to work across disciplines and markets. In those moments of collectiveness and comfortable discussion, when we are having the most fun with what we do, we often make new discoveries. It’s about innovating together — that’s when new opportunities present themselves,” he concludes.