Member Profile: 3 questions to Christophe Zaia, Director of Energy Development at Ekium

  • 15.12.2021
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Created in 1990, Ekium is a multidisciplinary engineering company: active in industrial engineering, building engineering and automation, its expertise is transversal to several industrial sectors: chemicals and petrochemicals, energy, oil and gas, and life sciences. The company, still chaired by one of its founders Philippe Lanoir, became part of the SNEF group in 2017. Today, with 1300 employees spread over 30 different sites and 7 countries, this already very experienced 30-year-old company generates a turnover of 130 million euros. Ekium has been immersed in the nuclear industry since its early days, and has enjoyed uninterrupted success and developed recognised expertise in the field. We met with Christophe Zaia, its Director of Energy Development.

What are Ekium's activities in the nuclear industry?

The nuclear industry currently accounts for nearly €25M in turnover. We provide multi-trade engineering services and expertise (general installations, control command, electricity, calculations, aggression, etc.) to major French contractors, from EDF to the ITER project, including Orano, Framatome, Andra and the CEA. 

We support EDF, our main client in the nuclear industry, both in the maintenance of existing plants and in new projects. Ekium has developed expertise in very specific areas, such as the design of diesel buildings; we have studied the diesel buildings for four EPR projects worldwide. 

Finally, we are also involved in the design of digital twins of nuclear power plants, either on existing plants that need to be digitally reconstructed, or by designing the 3D models of new projects. Within the nuclear sector of the SNEF group (2000 people and €200M turnover), Ekium is in charge of design activities and we are constantly maintaining and enhancing our skills thanks to the SNEF group's training centre, which offers a large catalogue of training courses.

What's new at Ekium?

Like many other companies, our news is marked by this unprecedented health crisis, which has renewed our employees' attachment to the company and their commitment to projects that are as rich as they are diverse, and which have finally multiplied.

We are also renewing a number of qualifications and certifications, which confirm our commitment to the nuclear industry. For example, we have begun the process of ISO19-443 qualification, with the aim of obtaining it in 2022, and have obtained the extension of UTO qualifications, specific to EDF's nuclear activities. In addition to our nuclear activities, we have also renewed our MASE (Manuel d'Amélioration de la Sécurité des Entreprises - Business Security Improvement Manual) certification, thereby reinforcing the consideration given to quality, safety and security in our activities.

We are deploying and adapting EDF's EXCELL Plan throughout the SNEF group, a dynamic that is already anchored in EKIUM's DNA, particularly in terms of training, maintaining skills and knowledge, and strengthening quality and safety.  

As far as our activities as such are concerned, we have signed new contracts with Edvance, extended our skills and are supporting the Project Management activities on the French nuclear power plant renewal project (EPR2). These contracts confirm our position as a major contributor to EDF's new projects, both in France and abroad.

We also renewed our multi-site engineering framework agreements for the CEA (DES and DAM) and started a high-stakes mass platform.

Finally, as part of our innovation approach, we can mention the recent development, in collaboration with EDF, of the SHIAI patent (Integrated Hybrid Fire Fighting System). This autonomous and efficient fire-fighting system was awarded the Grand Prix National de l'Ingénierie - National Engineering Grand Prix (GPNI) - by Syntec Ingénierie, the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery.

What are the short and long term development prospects for Ekium?

First and foremost, it is important for Ekium to consolidate its position as a major player in engineering and services for major projects, both in new build and in the installed base, as well as for the installations of other French contractors.

We also intend to expand our international development by supporting EDF projects in the United Kingdom (HPC and Sizewell C), in India, where we have created a Franco-Indian alliance - WAVES - in the Czech Republic (Dukovany), etc., and for other nuclear players in Europe and North America.

Finally, we have the ambition to conquer design/build and assembly markets, as part of a strategy supported by the SNEF group, our parent company.

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