Patrick Pouillot, VP of Life Sciences for TechnipFMC, introduces the business unit as a partner of choice in engineering and construction services for the industry. Pouillot goes on to explain how the business unit in life sciences benefits from the entire group’s strong resource pool and highlights TechnipFMC’s expertise in A to Z construction solutions not only in France but internationally as well.
Life sciences is not the company’s primary activity, but it remains a good way to keep our teams busy when the oil and gas market is challenging. This was a huge benefit that allowed us to retain our employees in France
TechnipFMC is well known in France as a flagship engineering company with over 60 years of history in the oil and gas industry, but of course, TechnipFMC is more than just energy. Please introduce the life sciences business of TechnipFMC.
TechnipFMC has now 30 years of experience in the life sciences industry. In the beginning, we worked in this field from our subsidiaries, such as in Italy and Finland, and through the acquisition of several players, it was decided in 2000 to create a dedicated business unit for these activities. Looking at our competitors, it is rather exceptional to have continuous activity in the life sciences field for such a long period of time.
As of today, life sciences are still a relatively small element in comparison to the rest of TechnipFMC’s operations but looking at the activity, it is more representative as a significant business unit.
What is the scope of TechnipFMC Life Science’s service offering?
Our scope of service is very wide-spanning, starting from early-stage concept design all the way through project management, and even commissioning and qualification in the end. We are well balanced in all steps of our offering whereas some engineering companies are stronger in certain activities or project stages.
What can the role of life sciences be in driving TechnipFMC’s operations as one of the few very EPCs not only focused on energy?
Life sciences is not the company’s primary activity, but it remains a good way to keep our teams busy when the oil and gas market is challenging. This was a huge benefit that allowed us to retain our employees in France.
Overall, the tasks are very similar so engineers from all business activities at TechnipFMC can be moved in and out of life sciences, especially those from the onshore/offshore and surface technologies segments. However, project managers and process engineers are always highly skilled and experienced in our life sciences team.
How do you raise awareness within the life sciences industry that TechnipFMC is not just an energy company?
Our clients in France know TechnipFMC very well and we have a positive perception within the life sciences and pharmaceutical community despite not being a solely dedicated company. In reality, it is an asset to have our business unit as part of a larger engineering group because it helps balance our operations when the life sciences market suffers. Furthermore, cross-collaboration in different fields helps our engineers build expertise and unique skills by seeing different project types.
What is TechnipFMC’s typical scope of operations within France as a country that already has a well-developed manufacturing ecosystem?
Greenfield projects in France are very exceptional, the one being discussed today is LFB’s Usine 2020 facility – a next-generation plant in Arras expected to triple the production capacity of the group’s plasma-derived medicinal products over the next ten years. We are also working with Boehringer Ingelheim on their new global centre for veterinary vaccines in Lyon.
How can you manage the workload of such large ongoing projects?
It is a strength of TechnipFMC to be able to assign a large number of workforces in a short period of time. After signing a contract, we are able to work quickly and assemble the team that is necessary within one month. TechnipFMC’s size and agility is an important asset of course.
Additionally, it is very beneficial for us to have several pharma and life sciences centres of excellence here in France. Regarding Usine 2020, we decided to split the project and have overall management based in Paris and the process design in Lyon to help balance the workload.
How internationally active is TechnipFMC’s life sciences business and to what extent can the life sciences side of TechnipFMC capitalize on the group’s international presence to capture new projects?
Being able to leverage the company’s global footprint is absolutely an asset for the life sciences business. For example, we have recently completed Sanofi’s third production site in Algeria and when we were invited to complete this project, we already had the knowledge of the country and a local workforce.
Other international projects that TechnipFMC Life Sciences is working on include a small greenfield for Institut Pasteur in Senegal to produce yellow fever vaccines. in Spain, we are completing a brownfield facility for Boehringer Ingelheim for the production of aerosols. In China, we have some reference greenfield projects for mainly vaccine facilities – we have created a flu vaccine plant for Sanofi Pasteur in Shenzhen. We also completed a vaccine plant for the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP). Very recently, we have done a site master plan for a French client in China for an animal health facility.
How would you describe TechnipFMC’s client base within the life sciences industry?
Our client base is not entirely French dominated. For example, in Algeria, we have worked with AstraZeneca and Pfizer. International players often consider TechnipFMC as a partner of choice to manage projects in French-speaking markets. In general, our main model is to enter into new countries with clients we have already been working with. This way we already have an understanding of their standards and approaches. Today, our challenge is to work more with clients who are not already present in France. We want to be more recognized by clients internationally outside of France.
15 years ago, all production in the life sciences industry was being moved east, but we are seeing more and more production shifted towards the west. What is your opinion of this reverse trend in which companies relocate their production sites that had once been moved to Asia back into Europe?
Indeed, I have witnessed this trend. We just signed a contract for concept design with a customer who is considering relocating their API facility from China to France. The reliability and quality of production that clients can find in Europe, especially in France, is key in their decision-making process.
What strategic vision do you have to further develop TechnipFMC as a household name within the life sciences community for facility construction and project management?
The most important that we can do is to be successful in the current contracts we hold and all our projects moving forward. It has always been my vision to execute projects well and be known as a partner of choice that delivers on client satisfaction. TechnipFMC has many long-term and reoccurring clients.