In October, Fine Tubes exhibited at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris - tell me why you chose to exhibit at this Expo?
This was the first edition and the first time that Fine Tubes had exhibited at the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE) in Paris - Le Bourget. We decided to participate because we knew it would give us the opportunity to meet with existing and potential new nuclear clients as well network with international nuclear EPC players, contractors and suppliers.
WNE covers the entire supply chain, showcasing global nuclear projects and giving both exhibitors and visitors alike a chance to view what is currently happening around the world in this sector. So it was an ideal expo for us to promote Fine Tubes' extensive experience in supplying the nuclear industry worldwide.
What were your reasons for exhibiting on the GIIN - "Groupe Intersyndical de L'Industrie Nucleaire" - stand?
Fine Tubes is a member of the GIIN, and yes, we choose to exhibit on their stand at WNE. The GIIN works closely with operators in the nuclear sector as well as government agencies, international bodies and organizations responsible for radiation protection, nuclear safety and standardization but also on the new build projects. As a member of the GIIN, Fine Tubes is bidding for a number of global projects. We have also contributed to Flamanville French EPR, through the supply of specific tubing according the French construction standard RCC-M.
Tell us about Fine Tubes' nuclear expertise?
Fine Tubes has been developing and manufacturing tubes for the nuclear industry since the 1970s. We started supplying nuclear fuel cans for the UK's first generation of gas cooled reactors, and then as the industry evolved so too did our expertise. Over the years, we have manufactured products for AGR, pressurized water, light water, heavy water and fast breeder reactor technologies and we have the ability to manufacture high precision seamless and welded tubes in stainless steel, nickel, titanium and zirconium alloys.
Furthermore, our organisation has evolved with the global alliance of Fine Tubes UK and Superior Tube USA to offer much more extended expertise and service for the benefit of our worldwide customers and the success of their projects in the nuclear segment. Combined, Superior Tube and Fine Tubes have over 100 years of experience working with nuclear customers to solve tough challenges and achieve tight performance specifications.
With our engineering expertise, we can control tube dimensions down to just ¼ the diameter of a human hair and in the fuel cans of advanced gas-cooled reactors our tubes have to endure temperatures of 650°C, without fail, for five years non-stop.
Why do you think customers choose Fine Tubes?
Customers choose Fine Tubes because of our excellent record and pedigree in developing and supplying tubing to the very highest specifications for mission critical components in the Nuclear Island, such as reactor core fuel cans and elements, control rods, instrumentation, steam generators and heat exchanger, condenser, absorber and cooling applications.
Nuclear is an industry in which strict specification compliance and integrity are absolutely critical and we have a proven track record not only of meeting those criteria but also of developing new solutions to help the nuclear industry advance.
How important is the nuclear sector to your global business
Today, approximately a quarter of Fine Tubes' global business is in the nuclear sector, providing tubes for both new nuclear power stations and also aging plants where we are involved in maintenance programmes.
It's also important to point out that our nuclear expertise spins off into other areas of the global energy industry, including the alternative energy sector. For example, we contributed to the highly innovative solar power plant, Gemasolar, near Seville in Spain. We developed and produced the corrosion-resistant heat exchanger tubes for the steam generators as well as the high performance tubing that makes up Gemasolar's central tower receiver.
Where in the world is Fine Tubes currently working on nuclear projects?
Our nuclear tubes are deployed in plants in the EU, the USA, Canada, India and China. We are also seeing demand from the Middle East, Russia and Brazil.
A recent report, published by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in September 2014, projects that world nuclear electricity generating by 2035 is expected to increase between 7% on the low side and 82% on the high side. We intend to be an important partner to nuclear customers in that growth.
How do you add value for your customers?
First and foremost through flexibility. Flexibility is key throughout the entire business development relationship with our customers where we become an integral part of the technical and engineering team. Our technical skill set and expertise mean that we aren't just able to join the technical discussion but actively lead the innovation process. This way we can add value and reduce cost for our customers.
Fine Tubes is not an integrated producer of raw material. However, this becomes a strength for us because of our strong relationships with many of the world's best producers. This gives us the breadth of competitive material options needed to offer the best technical solutions for our customers.
Our company size and global footprint also enables us to offer competitive lead times, and with our production capabilities we can offer seamless as well as welded and redrawn high precision tubing or a combination of both in a wide range of stainless steels, nickel, titanium and zirconium alloys which make us unique in our product offering.
Charles Ferreira is a member of the Nuclear Products Division at Fine Tubes. He is based in Orléans in France where he heads up Fine Tubes Sales Office for Western Europe.