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Rafaut opens a next-generation factory in Valenciennes

30 Oct 2018 | Front page, Mobility

The aeronautics sector has been constantly growing in Hauts-de-France. And for good reason, after Safran’s new location in Rosult and SKF’s development in Rouvignies, Rafaut is investing €20M to create a new production unit in the Valenciennes Region.

Rafaut chooses Hauts-de-France to set up its newest factory

An equipment manufacturer for the military and civil aeronautics industry, Rafaut has been working exclusively in aeronautics for more than 50 years. Rafaut specializes in the design and manufacture of armament delivery and interface equipment for combat aircraft and helicopters. In order to expand its production capacity for aeronautical weapons programs, the group will invest €20M* in a factory in Hauts-de-France. A choice determined by the region’s two major assets: its location and the skilled workforce. Rafaut has purchased 23,400 m² in the Rouvignies business park (near Valenciennes), to built a 10,000 m² site. Thanks to it’s next-generation automated forge, the 4.0 plant will produce large and complex parts for the aeronautics. The production intended for the National Defense will mainly focus on bomb bodies and allow France to internalize the production of these parts, previously imported from America. "So far heavy bomb bodies have always been imported from the United States”. States Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces.

*October 2019 edition: The group itself invested € 11m, € 17m was provided by the Ministry of the Armed Forces, € 1m by the Hauts-de-France Region and € 0.6m by other local authorities involved in the project

Rafaut is focusing on diversifying its activities

By creating this next-generation unit, Rafaut intends to expand its business activity in its priority sector: defense. However, the group also wants to develop initiatives to reach technological sectors including civil aeronautics, rail, nuclear power, new energies, and others.

More than sixty jobs will be created by 2021. These will primarily be jobs that are “highly qualified in the mechanical production sector, as well as engineering,” says Bruno Berthet, CEO of Rafaut, who expects to “find technicians and engineers on site”.

The increasingly strong aeronautics sector in Hauts-de-France

Rafaut is not the only company to have chosen to expand in Hauts-de-France. Another example is SKF [testimonial video]. Located in Valenciennes since 2006, the site specializing in the manufacture and distribution of aeronautics products (mainly aircraft engine ball bearings) recently inaugurated two centers of excellence for the heat treatment and production of roller bearings (€11M investment). SKF’s main customers include General Electric, Goodrich, and UTC. Another good example of a business set up in the Valenciennes Region is Safran (a SKF customer as well), an international high-tech company and top-tier supplier of equipment for aeronautics, space, and defense. In partnership with Air France-KLM, the group has set up a factory near Valenciennes under the name of their joint venture, Airfoils Advanced Solutions.

These establishments demonstrate well how aeronautics is becoming a leading sector in Hauts-de-France. A “third industrial mobility hub: aeronautics” is emerging in the region, including Hautmont (Forgital Group), Méaulte in Somme (Stelia Aérospace), Seclin (Dassault), and Compiègne (Matra Electronique). [NFI article link] 

Sources: Voix du Nord, Les Echos, Le Journal des entreprises



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