Demand for steel coupled with sustainable development requirements have boosted interest in the cast iron and charcoal sector in Brazil, which combines respect for the environment and competitiveness.
The Group manages eucalyptus plantations to produce charcoal for the blast furnaces of the country's steel mills, and seeks to continually improve the sector.
The scientific selection of trees, improved forest nutrition programs and industrialization of the continuous charcoal-making process are the mainstays of this strategy.
Used for the most demanding applications, 9% and 13% chromium steels provide the basis for the Group's high-tech solutions.
A great deal of research has gone into the development and continuous casting of these steels.
The Group currently has high capacity, high-tech steel mills that give it greater autonomy in terms of premium steel supply.
Hot-process steel tube-making is a vital technology for the Group and one that is constantly improved through innovation. For example,
Premium Forged Pipes (PFP®) is a new process combining a forge with hot piercing technology and was developed to manufacture thick wall, large-diameter tubes intended specifically for the mechanical engineering and power generation sectors.
The Group has also focused on developing its threading and heat treatment capability, which has enabled it to roll out its range of premium products in key regions of the world, in close proximity to its customers' facilities.
Non-destructive testing is also undergoing a thorough overhaul in order to ensure the Group's products remain highly reliable.
Innovations in this area play an important role in helping the Group to stand out from its competitors.
The Group has stepped up its efforts to assist its clients by offering other services in addition to supplying tubular products.
Vallourec Global Solutions targets the oil and gas sector. It combines a set of products and services that provide a bespoke solution for all the oil companies' needs, from design and manufacture of tubes and connections, installation and maintenance.
This turnkey solution approach is gradually being extended to other Group activities.
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Vallourec offers a full range of tubular solutions for the offshore oilrig market, where project management is key to success. This particularly applies to rigid subsea pipelines. Thanks to the expertise and know-how of Serimax, a company acquired in 2010, Vallourec now offers coordinated coating and welding (pre-assembly) of subsea pipelines in addition to supplying tubes.
Vallourec applies the same service delivery approach in the construction sector. The Group offers, for example, software programs to optimize use of structural tubes. These tools facilitate the pre-design stage and speed up the design and construction phases by enabling building structures to be pre-assembled. The duration of the building works can thereby be cut by a third.