Composite Membranes Bring New Level of VersatilityWed, 10/21/2015 - 13:55
Composite membranes are staking a claim as one of the most versatile innovations of recent decades. These semipermeable materials have an extremely broad range of possible applications in architecture, industry, and the consumer segment. From bioclimatic and solar protection facades, to furniture, design, and acoustic solutions, the invention can match almost any application imaginable, its makers are proud to claim. As a global leader in both the supply and manufacturing of composite membranes, Serge Ferrari is tackling the challenges of sustainable construction, energy control, and the renewal of resources around the world. The 40-year-old company has a portfolio of membrane solutions that are matched with the needs of the mining industry, according to Thomas Dreyfus, its Sales Area Manager for Hispanic America and the Caribbean. As the sector looks to boost its environmental responsibility and its financial growth, mining companies have become collectively attracted to the services and products that help to achieve those goals.
Dreyfus explains that the company’s mining history in Latin America spans almost a decade. “The company has been involved in Chile and Peru’s mining industry for about eight years now,” he tells. “Our Latin American operations were originally based in Chile but we have now expanded into Colombia and Mexico. Today, these three offices report to our representative office in Mexico City. We are very ambitious in the Latin American markets and although we know they are challenging, we also know that there are many applications for our products in the region. We are now working on getting to know what these markets need in order to better position our products.” Some of the lightweight materials that Serge Ferrari produces are used to cover large spaces and create shelters, camps, and warehouses. In Chile and Peru, the company has been using this material to gain momentum in the mining camp market, giving it reasonable justification to offer the same products to Mexico. Its additional mining solutions include geomembranes for chemicals, water storage ponds, food storage liners, flexible tanks for drinking water, and steel cable membranes used on supply trucks for theft prevention. “Due to the quality of our products, we are able to offer a life span of up to 40 years,” states Dreyfus. “This extensive durability is an ideal fit for the mining industry since life of mine operations can stretch over a similar time frame.”
All of Serge Ferrari’s materials are manufactured in France and Switzerland where the company has mastered every step of the supply chain. The yarn, the polymers, and the coatings are all taken care of in-house during innovative quality control processes, with no reliance on external suppliers. “Most of our patented technologies are made from polyester and PVC, providing high quality, long-lasting, and easy to handle solutions, particularly for mining,” explains Dreyfus. Born of this dedication to excellence is Serge Ferrari’s Précontraint technology, which Dreyfus describes as being “the core identity of our company.” The technology allows materials to be extremely flexible and stable, without stretching, making it ideal for mining camps and water storage ponds. Précontraint can be coupled with Stamoid technology, another Swiss-made innovation with some interesting advantages over other membranes. Bought by the Serge Ferrari group in 2001, Stamoid is dedicated to the specialized treatment of composite products, helping to meet the requirements of low emissivity, low permeability, resistance to certain chemicals, and the prevention of microbial growth. When combined, Précontraint and Stamoid can be used to create solutions such as storage tanks for biogas, which can increase the yield for subsequent energy generation in mines.
In June 2014, Serge Ferrari embarked on an IPO for 30% of the company to acquire the necessary funds to further develop its international network and technology. One third of this capital will be invested in research and development, one third will go towards network development, and the rest will be assigned to the improvement of other technologies. “Research and development is a core aspect of our company, which is why 7% of our employees are part of the R&D team,” states Dreyfus. “Our entire R&D is performed in France and Switzerland where we focus on formulations, varnishing, specialty treatments, accelerated weathering tests, and the improvement of aesthetical and mechanical properties, among other focus areas. Our global reach accounts for a presence in 80 countries, but we want to expand that further, deeply penetrating the markets in which we operate.”