Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Capital – Research & Development, Innovation, Products and Services

We are pioneering new advances in technologies, products, and services that define L.B. Foster Company as a solutions leader in our served markets. We specialize in supplying a unique combination of capabilities and solutions to transportation and critical infrastructure industries. Our innovative engineering and product development solutions inspire safety, reliability, and performance.

Technology and product development teams operate from three countries: the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. These teams are aligned internally to realize synergies among them and are also tightly integrated into our market teams to ensure successful identification of market needs and for effective commercialization of innovative technology and products. We have state-of-the-art development laboratories which host our teams of engineers, specialists in electrical hardware and software design, mechanical design and analysis, and chemistry, among others.

For this report, a wide net is cast over products and services that anticipate customer demand, provide energy efficiency, optimize the use of technology, or substitute materials to minimize adverse social or environmental effects. These are summarized in new product development and those with a sustainable market value.

Investment into R&D

L.B. Foster selectively uses all forms of intellectual property protection including trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. We own and maintain more than 130 domestic and international patents. We have many other patent applications globally that are in various stages of the patent prosecution process in different jurisdictions.

R&D Expenditures: FY 2019 FY 2020 FY 2021
Million dollars 2.6 2.6 2.2

Note: In 2021, our investment into R&D was $2.2 Million and was principally related to friction management and railroad monitoring system products within the Rail segment. These efforts influenced an added $11M of sales to the rail segment by delivering value for some of the most pressing customer issues such as locomotive fuel efficiency, improved rail operations, track monitoring, and transportation safety.

New Product Development

Collectively, across our businesses we conduct customer research for delivering novel solutions in an evolving marketplace of globalization, a warming climate, technology disruption, population increase, and urbanization.

Our product development is facilitated by a cross-functional gated process to ensure our efforts realize market value for both us and our customers. Technical and commercial teams are aligned throughout this process to ensure the outputs of R&D activities are not only technically sound, but also commercially practical. Our product launches can be newly developed, improvement revisions to current offerings, or may exist in new or adjacent markets where our offerings supply benefits.

Note: In 2021, we realized approximately 5% of our total revenue came from products launched within the past 5 years. Delivering new products and services is increasingly important to our customers to maintain their own competitiveness in the markets they serve, and the value they create for their customers.

Product Sustainable-Market Value

Among our core values of safety, teamwork, and innovation, we aim to create more advanced solutions around sustainability. Many of our solutions have a sustainable market value by aligning our product attributes with the customer’s sustainability interests. L.B. Foster believes that up to 50%* of our revenue was generated from technologies and products & systems that had a sustainable or social benefit for our customers. Product applications and their sustainable market value can be categorized as follows:

Business Unit

Application of Products & Services

Sustainable Market Value

Rail, Technologies, & Services

  • Rail Condition & Safety Monitoring
  • Friction Management
  • Contractor & Maintenance Services
  • Wayfinding & Information Exchange
  • Railway track accessories
  • Safety alerts about travel conditions
  • Fuel efficiency & reduced carbon footprint
  • Tracking rail condition performance for operational efficiency, safety, and cost savings
  • Travel efficiency
  • Customer experience & noise reduction

Precast Concrete

  • Highly customized, multifunctional buildings
  • Above and below ground infrastructure products
  • Resilience & durability
  • Speed of site construction
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Steel Products & Measurement

  • Steel fabrication solutions for bridges
  • Commercial water well irrigation systems
  • Transportation and measurement of liquids and gas within steel pipe metering systems
  • Recycled content
  • Corrosion protection & durability
  • Speed of site construction
  • Accessing & delivering water
  • Solutions for a transitioning energy economy

Note: Currently, quantifying revenue (i.e., 50%) from products with a sustainable market value is loosely defined but will have more restrictive criteria in future reporting.

In addition to the intellectual property and patents produced by our R&D and innovation efforts, we control the branding rights of various trademarks. We manage 30 trademarks with protection in 12 countries and regions. These trademarks enhance recognition and brand awareness with our customers and have an intangible value in the markets we serve.