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Composite Holding Company press-conference on April 18th


The press-conference arranged by the Composite Holding Company (CHC) took place in Moscow at Company’s office on Wednesday this week. Company is fairly young, has recently celebrated the 3rd anniversary, but has achieved a lot for the past 3 years, nevertheless there is much more to be done.

 

The objective of the meeting with journalists was to discuss Company’s achievements and share the view and ideas on the composite market development and future of the industry in Russia.

Chief executive officer of the Composite Holding Company, Leonid Melamed, opened the meeting. He introduced his colleagues who were responsible for various business industries and presented their sectors achievements in those areas.

 

Mr.Melamed started his presentation mentioning that the Company manages some important assets which were established years ago – some of Rosatom enterprises (as example - plants in Chelyabinsk, Balakovo), as well as plant which was purchased from Lukoil and few other entities. “We are actively working on modernization of these plants”, - said Mr.Melamed. Company is building up vertically integrated organization, at the moment we are producing wide range of products and materials –ranging from precursor and carbon fiber production to manufacturing of the products for end-users with significant high-tech components.

Recently the Company has set up the Nanotechnology Center of composite materials, which is based on the territory of “Moskvich”, formerly well known as AZLK. Center was designed to help manufacturers at start-up stage and provide its equipped base for research, experimental design, technological, laboratory and certification work. The idea was to provide very well equipped base and expertise for the companies who have innovative ideas, but experience difficulties with financial support.

 

In 2011 there was a decision taken to create the design department; at the moment colleagues there are actively working on about 20 new projects.

 

These days the lack of engineering is a serious weakness for industry development. There is a huge deficit of engineers who could design the products based on new innovative materials, lack of technologists who could create the complete production cycle of the process. That is why the CHC has initiated the creation of the Engineering Center. “We won related RUSNANO tender and plan to launch few sections of the Center in 2012”, - said Mr.Melamed. It was stressed that any innovative company will be able to use the Center’s services, use the modern equipment and apply for Composite Holding Company experts’ advice. There are about 20 technologies exist globally with regard of molding of products with great strength and low weight composites. All these technologies promised to be available at the Center. CHC closely monitors worldwide trends in that area and purchases very modern equipment.

 

There is a construction of the new plant in Alabuga, Tatarstan, going on at the moment. The Company plans to manufacture carbon fiber there, which is expected to be very competitive in the global market. There is 90% of the products produced by Alabuga plant will be exported. Launch of the plant is scheduled by the end of 2012. The plant is unique as for the first time Germany has given a permission to purchase their equipment for such purposes. One of the potential clients for the plant, which has already expressed the interest, is Airbus. Composite Holding Company strategy in general is not to spread out the efforts, but to focus on carbon fiber at the moment and develop itself in that area aggressively in order to become a world leader.

 

There is another construction going on in Dubna, where the Company plans to produce high quality prepregs. There are no prepregs of such quality in Russian market at the moment and that is a big step forward.

 

Answering the questions regarding Company’s key clients in Russia and market readiness for purchasing innovative materials and products, Leonid Melamed sadly noted that unfortunately Russian market is just about 0.4% from the world composite products market and that is extremely low number and there is a big potential here to grow. In Russia CHC has no competitors, last year it covered 58% of the Russia’s market, the rest was imported.

 

With regard to the key drivers of the world market for the industry there were following sectors mentioned: aerospace, auto industry, wind energy sector and, finally, construction and shipbuilding. Until recently the first driver was aerospace, the world was looking after competition between Airbus and Boeing. But later in 2011 the situation has changed following the announcement of big auto producers, as BMW for example, regarding the work which has been done in special secret laboratories on creation of new carbon cars. BMW has confirmed that this work has started in 1998. That will require the whole change of all auto production lines in the industry, not just replacement of simple details. And that promises to become mass production, comparing to airplanes manufacture. That is huge step forward in the industry. Markets expect these composite products to transfer to other industries. Another important driver is wind energy industry development. USA and Europe subsidize a lot in its development. Construction and shipbuilding were mentioned as the 3rd world drivers.

 

But all the above were listed as a world drivers of the composite industry. The order of the drivers in Russia is a bit different and there are objective reasons for that. Thus, due to the lack of high-tech auto and wind energy industries, the main drivers in Russia are construction and shipbuilding. Depreciation in construction is about 80% and there is a real need for replacement of old parts by the new carbon parts. Composite Holding Company’s important objective is to make sure that the new innovative materials are increasingly used in construction. Technology of objects strengthening is very interesting – it does not increase object’s weight at all; materials are very easy to use, complexity of the work process is lower etc. There is a huge potential for such technology in renovation area, repair works. There is one more challenge in Russia related to the bridges construction and maintenance. The trucking industry requirements have been changed significantly for the past few years, thus there is a big need to strengthen and renovate the bridges. One of the key challenges in bridge construction is funding as composite bridges are expensive. At the same time there was a sample demonstrated to journalists where the bridge capacity was increased from 20 to 82 tons through the use of new materials (comparing to previously used metal ones), at the same time there was 46% cost saving achieved on materials and work process. Company’s objective is to go beyond one-time orders for bridge renovation and construction and develop new mass bridge-building industry.

 

Another important area for the composite materials application is construction of roads. There is a special product “Fiber”, which is actively used for these purposes. There were few roads made with that product in some regions – as Ulyanovsk, Saratov, Tver and Kaluga regions, Khabarovsk and some others. The product has demonstrated extremely good characteristics and there is big potential for its use.

Still there is a lot to be done in construction industry in order to promote the new technology. And CHC regularly arranges training seminars for builders, designers, engineers. There were few strategic sessions hold for Rosatom. There were special educational programs developed for students in order to grow the future experts for the industry.

 

Shipbuilding was mentioned as another key driver for the industry. The appropriate division has recently been set up in the Composite Holding Company, but there is serious work going on old materials replacement by the new composite ones in that sector. Comparing to the traditional materials the new ones are unique and superior in quality at times. There is a new technology for ships furnishing by innovation materials. The demand here depends a lot on State order for military defense. With the focus of recently appointed Mr.Rogozin, there is a big expectation for the State order execution improvement, including significant increase of composite materials usage. CHC actively cooperates with all design Bureaus and factories building ships in Russia, work very closely with United Shipbuilding Corporation, trying to participate in Federal Programs. A lot of work is going on, but, unfortunately, there is nothing that Company could demonstrate just yet.

 

No doubt that aerospace sector stays significant for the composite industry. The main CHC’s partner is United Aerospace Corporation. But there are few serious international competitors in that area. Obviously the Company is the only supplier in military sector. There are few interesting projects in Roskosmos where CHC also plans to participate actively.

 

The pipeline is one more important industry driver in Russia - both in oil and gas and Housing and Communal services. There is a big need for pipelines modernization – strengthening the pipes by composite materials and manufacture of pipes using innovative technology.

 

There is also big demand for innovation materials and products in nuclear industry and the Company works a lot in that area. Special program was developed for composite materials application in that sector. The program is split into 2 parts – R&D and use of carbon fiber at the reference facilities. The aim of the program is obvious – the application of new innovative materials for outmoded and wracked facilities. All the Rosatom entities are involved in such program. The work has been finished at 2 facilities to date. There is a plan to cover 50 more facilities by end of 2012. The benefits of the new materials use are absolutely clear – reduction of construction work duration, cost of renovation, and increased resistance of the facilities to various impacts. At the same time such experience can be successfully deployed in other areas. But there is a need for serious tests of materials in terms of their application where contact with nuclear matter exists. Thus, the Company considers it as a long term task for the next 10 years.

The main focus in transport sector is on Russian Railways and their demand for new trains. CHC has developed the needed design documentation for the completely new train made for 90-95% of such composite material as fiberglass. Now the challenge for the project implementation is funding. There are also some projects in work with KAMAZ and Avtovaz.

 

As key factors which restrain the industry from the fast development the lack of competition and existing corruption were mentioned. “Unfortunately it is not possible to change the situation in one day as our economy was focused on monopolism for a long time. Nevertheless Composite Holding Company is actively working on the situation, communicating the issues and offering ideas to the country government”, - said Mr.Melamed. There are some other important factors which slow down the industry growth were listed: high costs of new innovative materials versus traditionally used ones as steel and aluminum; deficit of engineering staff who have skills to work with composite materials (but at the same time it was mentioned that Company works very closely with few leading institutions such as Moscow State University, Bauman institute, High School of Economics and some other in order to solve the problem with resources); lack of specific documentation; certain industries lagging; legislation imperfection; long (up to 2 years) certification process and tests cycle (at the same time it was stated that the certification is not mandatory, although it is a business practice and demanded by most of the clients).

 

But the benefits of innovative products and huge potential for the industry growth are absolutely obvious. Country will only win from the economic efficiency point of view, consumption volume perspectives, industry openness to innovations. Composite materials industry may, for sure, be considered as one of the key instruments, which is able to help the country in the near future to achieve declared aim to make people’s lives better, take the country to the next level. There is a lot to be done in order to resolve above mentioned issues, but considering other countries experience that is a doable task, and we should start immediately and do everything possible to move much faster. Russia can make a breakthrough, but the clear focus and support are needed in order to make it happen.

 

Source: http://ind-observer.blogspot.com/2012/04/composite-holding-company-press_20.html   

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