Véronique Cuziol, project head at Ubifrance, believes that the French mechanical engineering sector shows the best of the French manufacturing: “No, not all French industries are in decline. Some sectors are successful. For example, the mechanical engineering industry.” What exactly is this stellar industry all about? Mechanical engineering firms are diverse in products and services, but broadly they service and produce valued added products for the automobile, aerospace and railway industries.
The French mechanical engineering industry has a turnover of 113 billion euros annually, of which 45.6 billion are exported. These figures rank sixth worldwide and third within Europe. Overall there are over 50000 companies in the industry, including a few large players (Fives, Alstom, Areva and Air Liquide) and a healthy majority of smaller companies: 95% of all firms are SMEs and start-ups.
Besides the USA and China, European markets are the traditional destinations of French exports in this sector. Germany remains by far the biggest importer. Therefore it’s not surprising that a great part of French mechanical engineering companies can be found at the world’s biggest industrial fair in Germany, the Hannover Messe.
French companies, and in particular SMEs, have been exceptionally effective in leveraging the country’s research clusters, some of the best in the world, into innovative solutions. A great example is the Mont Blanc Industries cluster, which specializes in precision machining, mechatronics and other advanced industrial techniques. There is a collective, national interest in creating what is being called the “Factory of the Future”: disruptive investments in technologies such as energy efficiency, 3d printing, and advanced robotics that will redefine the future of manufacturing through increased efficiency and reduction in costs.
Some of these French start-ups are making big splashes with innovative products. For example the French Expliseat, founded in 2011, produces the world’s lightest seat while also offering an innovative and ergonomic design, the “Titanium Seat.” Expliseat has recently received certification from the FAA (Federal American Aviation Administration) and can therefore supply the US aircraft industry.
Another example of a successful subsector is the textile machinery manufacturing: French firms offer extremely targeted and innovative products and an excellent customer service, as well as a highly skilled workforce.
The top 100 French subcontracting companies include a number of large businesses such as the LISI Group, which has a turnover of over one billion euros. There are also a myriad of smaller but nevertheless very ambitious companies such as Manoir Industries: specializing in metal forging and foundry, their objective is to become the world’s leader in the production of metals for the nuclear, oil & gas, petro-chemistry and construction sectors.
One must remember that France is one of the most attractive countries in Europe in terms of foreign investments, ranking 4th in the world in terms of industrial FDI. This is no surprise give that foreign investors have access to the second biggest economy in Europe, third highest hourly labour productivity, excellent infrastructure, and a central geographic position. Furthermore, France ranks second in Europe for the number of patent applications, with one in ten of these patents being the result of collaboration between a French and a foreign company.
Ubifrance, the French agency for export promotion, has 80 offices overseas. Its role is to help French companies in marketing their products abroad, as well assist foreign companies in finding French suppliers or partners.
More information about French companies :
French exporters directory mechanical engineering
Oil and Gas
There is Total and then there are the others. That is how some people blindly underestimate the Oil & Gas sector in France. Fortunately, the French landscape for this sector is far richer than that. “What people need to know is that the French offer is positioned among the leaders worldwide,” explains Agnès Hagyak, Project Manager for Hydrocarbons at Ubifrance. France’s para-petroleum sector includes over 400 enterprises and creates 55 000 jobs that are “highly qualified at the technical and scientific level,” according to Agnès Hagyak.
In terms of exports, France even has the 2nd biggest para-petroleum sector in the world, behind N° 1, the United States. France equals Norway and the United Kingdom. French suppliers account for 90% of their total turnover in exports. Total and GDF Suez, among the major players in the world, naturally draw a lot of attention. Yet there are also many French companies that are not as well known, but who deliver high performance internationally.
“France’s para-petroleum sector includes over 400 enterprises and creates 55 000 jobs that are highly qualified at the technical and scientific level”
Many of them are SMEs who display a very high level of technical expertise. These companies are a hotbed of creativity. When it comes to covering needs in technologies, in equipment and services required for exploring, producing, transporting and refining hydrocarbons, the French offer is considered as top-notch.
French know-how is especially recognized in the area of offshore and deep water drilling, in fact, for any sort of high sea platform. French companies, thoroughly international, can easily position themselves on very specific niches. They are not at all afraid of customizing their solutions. Quite the contrary!
For example, there is the Bardot Group, An SME with international presence, specialized in para-petroleum equipment. In particular, it makes tooling with technical polymers and structures that are soldered by robotic equipment, along with the development of the means to attach and assemble these structures. With such expertise on this niche market, Bardot Group has managed to work on sites in Angola, Texas, Brazil and Malaysia. And BARDOT is hardly the only French company capable of such international success.
Nexans, is a specialist in making cables required by the sector. Expert in electrical engineering (automated solutions, instrumentation and command system) CEGELEC works very successfully on international projects. There are still other players in the market: Air Liquide, Bureau Veritas, Entrepose projets, Ponticelli, all renowned companies.
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Martine carole Fougere USA Distributor DESMAZIERES DRINO Las Vegas NV
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