Historically rooted in oil and gas, global welding experts Serimax are now moving into utility pipeline installations for the renewables sector, covering wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture

Global welding specialist, Serimax, is in conversation with Scottish ports as it looks to play a significant role as a supply chain partner to the renewables sector. 

As Murdo MacAngus, Commercial and Operations Development Director at Serimax explains, the company provides welding solutions worldwide on many major projects. Historically the company’s welding expertise, training skills and innovative R&D, focused on the oil and gas sectors. 
Since then, the company has branched out into utility pipeline installations and has now added renewables, carbon capture, hydrogen pipelines and floating wind to its portfolio of activities. 

“We have a very wide customer base around the world and are a welding partner with many national and international companies. We’ve been going since 1978 and have multiple operations happening out of our 12 fixed locations internationally. We’re looking at wind turbines and offshore floating wind as the next big phase and are positioning ourselves, services and expertise for these markets,” he comments. 

MacAngus says that Serimax is in productive conversations with ports across Scotland, including the Port of Cromarty Firth, where the port’s green freeport status is of considerable interest. “We are part of the consortium that brought the Freeport Status to the Cromarty Firth and are looking to build on this and other port relationships with a view to supporting the renewables supply chain networks that the ports are developing,” he comments. 

This involves discussions over the technology, resources and expertise that Serimax can provide. “Since 2002 our North of Scotland training centre focuses on the four-year welding apprenticeship scheme that we run there. Every year we commit to delivering the skilled welders of the future. This is particularly vital given the skills shortages that both the renewables sector and the oil and gas industries are experiencing,” he comments. 

With its focus on industrial welding in all kinds of conditions and environments, Serimax has a history of retaining some 80 percent of all the trainees that pass through its academy. 
The company’s Paris-based R&D division focuses on developing innovative solutions for the welding markets. “We are continuously developing the technology that enables us to provide world-class welding solutions for our clients,” MacAngus says.
Serimax opened its Welding Technology Centre (WTC) in Paris Nord 2, Roissy, in March of 2015. The aim, then and now, MacAngus says, is to ensure the company’s technological leadership in the industry. “WTC is all about developing pioneering solutions that can meet tomorrow’s challenges,” he comments. 

The Centre has a 2,000-square-metre workshop dedicated to collaborating on R&D projects with customers who require specialised materials and technology. The headquarters also houses the company’s central corporate functions and senior management.
“The nature of our business means that we bring our welding technicians and engineers, plus our specialist welding equipment to the customer’s site. Our teams work to the highest industry quality standards, where, whatever the conditions, we deliver 98% first-weld success rates. This is on-site, at a quayside, not in some ideal factory conditions, and is a level of proficiency that is the best in the industry,” MacAngus says.

Given the current skills shortage and the huge demands for skilled welders that a large-scale roll-out of floating wind structures will make, four-year apprenticeships would create a huge supply bottleneck. MacAngus points out that Serimax has a solution to this problem. 
“We have the technology in place to provide condensed training programmes on our welding technology. This enables us to have operators performing to our high standards in a matter of weeks rather than years,” he comments.

He adds that the company goes well beyond just providing skilled welders and equipment. “We employ welding engineers who talk to developers and operators about the design of their structures. So, we are talking not just about the resources they will require to implement their projects but about how the various components will come together, along with technical issues such as the tolerances that are being looked for, and the key requirements with respect to the welds. 
“We have the technical and manpower solutions to put all this together on-site for the client. 
“We do not simply wait until the structures are delivered to the port quayside in their component parts. We need to have the conversations now so that we can have everything ready for the day when components start to be delivered for assembly,” he comments.

In all major projects, Serimax works very closely with the developer/operator. “We have a range of non-disclosure agreements with the clients as to the technologies we can come and assist them with. We welcome these kinds of conversations at a very early stage. Often, these discussions will be with an intermediary contractor, but the point is always to bring the design and the welding technology together in the most efficient way,” he notes.
The company puts a great deal of emphasis on employing and training local labour wherever in the world it operates. As a global organisation, it can offer trainees very attractive career progression, with plenty of opportunities to work in multiple countries and locations. 

Although it is likely to be at least a couple of years before the main contracts for floating wind structures start to be assembled at Scottish ports, MacAngus says that the announcement of the two Scottish Green Freeports has created a definite heightening of interest. 
“There is now a real buzz with a lot of attention being given to supply chain issues right across the north of Scotland. We are seeing a variety of networking events, all designed to bring coherence to the supply chain for the coming roll-out of floating wind. It is all very positive and exciting,” he comments.