Maintaining economies of scale while providing truly personalised customer service is a major challenge for today's oil and gas equipment suppliers. Fabio Lattanzio, CEO of electromechanical equipment specialist Nuova Asp, discusses how the balance can best be struck, and the increasing role environmental concerns play in investment decisions.
Fabio Lattanzio: Nuova Asp deals with the planning and manufacture of electromechanical equipment for explosion and weather-proof plants in the chemical and petrochemical industry, as well as other potentially explosive areas. We supply a number of the oil and gas sector's biggest players, including Edison International, Eni, Hyundai Engineering Co, Maire Tecnimont, Saipem, Samsung, Técnicas Reunidas and many more.
Having such significant customers, Nuova Asp often plays a central role in the great technological challenges of the day. In Algeria, with Technip, we are involved in the overhaul and modernisation of the Sonatrach refineries, and in the UAE, we are involved in the modification and installation of new plants in the Satah factory. These are just a few of our many ongoing projects.
A great deal of progress and innovation is currently linked to LED lighting fixtures. Compared with more traditional lamps, they offer better efficiency, greater intensity and higher luminosity levels. They also have longer life expectancy and are highly flexible in terms of application, all of which combines to make them extremely environmentally friendly.
Nuova Asp's product portfolio already has several LED products in stock, and we're currently planning a selection of new ones. The real challenge for Ex [explosion protection] specialists will be the development and use of this technology in Ex-e and Ex-de applications. This is one of the main focuses for our research and development engineers.
The big challenge at the moment for companies like Nuova Asp is to prove to the large oil companies that our products and manufacturing processes are environmentally certified. This is something we are dedicated to achieving, and we are proud to have recently received the quality certification UNI EN ISO 14001: 2008. Next year, we will also adopt the 231 model of organisation, management and control.
When your work means guaranteeing other people's well-being, it's essential that machine quality and safety standards are well maintained. Legislation ensuring quality control systems, safety management and employee health must not only become an integral part of company processes, it also has to function as a driver for future investment.
One of the most common barriers to maintaining high standards is the lack of care taken of safety components after the initial manufacturing process, by which I mean during their installation and maintenance. A lack of accuracy and respect for the rules in these later phases has caused a number of incidents.
It's true that increasing globalisation is forcing some of our customers, particularly engineering companies and European contractors, to leave developed countries and move to the developing world in an attempt to reduce their operating costs.
The problem with this is that quality can be somewhat compromised. In an industry like ours, that is unacceptable. I believe that one of the greatest challenges facing the sector is finding a solution to this problem.
Customer personalisation is the basis for several of our products, and we have learned that the key to success lies in balancing specific requests with the necessary economies of scale. Our strategy of capillary action and having an international presence though our foreign branches facilitates this, allowing us to customise our services and giving us a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.
We not only sell products, we also care for our customers by providing consulting services at the design stage, guaranteeing personalised solutions that meet individual requirements, and running an after-sales service that collects valuable feedback so we can improve for next time.
Nuova Asp has direct control over every single stage of production, from the foundry right through to the final assemblage and electrical wiring phases. All our production is controlled by robotic isles and numerical control machines, and is computerised. The only manual phase is assembly and wiring; this is where we are able to customise products to meet our clients' needs, giving us excellent flexibility in responding to specific orders.
Our cutting-edge products, including low-pressure and die-casting technologies, are manufactured in the foundry. Quality is guaranteed by using X-ray equipment while items are on the production line. In the mechanics workshop, the most modern equipment with process automation is used. Additional software manages the different phases and the peaks and troughs of working patterns.
In addition to that just mentioned, we use a fairly standard product. However, the prototyping office is currently using both 2D and 3D software. 3D prototyping is extremely useful and gives the planning department a complete analysis, making it possible to produce samples that are suitable for certification.
We are now working to enlarge our production unit from 20,000m2 to 70,000m2. The primary aim of the expansion is to enlarge the warehouse, providing more space for products to be assembled and stored before being sent to market. There will be space for a number of new offices as well.
We would also like to expand into the South American market - Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela in particular - together with the North European market, as our production includes a wide range of products for the mining sector.
To date, we have mainly focused on places where we have more experience, including Asia, the Maghreb and the Middle East. Our existing branch offices are in these areas, specifically Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the Middle East, though we also have an overseas representative office in Shanghai, China.
Our AVS lighting fixture series is one of our most exciting new product ranges. It has a polyester body that's reinforced with glass fibre, and a transparent screen in shock-absorbent polycarbonate. It can fit either one or two fluorescent 36W 220V two-pole plug bulbs, or the same number of fluorescent 18W two-pole plug bulbs. It can be installed on a stake, or on the ceiling, and comes with a safety switch. Both ends can be equipped with Ex-e cable glands.
We also have a new AVSX lighting fixture series, similar to the AVS but manufactured in stainless steel grades AISI 316 and 316L. It's been created in response to our offshore application requests.
NUOVA ASP is specialized in manufacturing explosion proof, marine and heavy-duty wartertight electrical equipment for the oil and gas, petrochemical, pharmaceutical industries, and off-shore platforms. Since 1955 NUOVA ASP has been at the side of designers and contractors who work for safety in hazardous area containing explosive gases or flammable material, and has always shared the responsibility for people, systems and the environment with them. The constant improvement of the quality of our service and our products represents our top priority. Our quality management system is certify as complying with ISO 9001:2000, and the reliability and high technical standard of our products are attested by the approval of international notified bodies in conformity with ATEX and IEC-EX standard.