Global and innovatory skills


The demands placed on our companies at international level increasingly call for an integrated,bottom-up, downstream-upstream approach. The technical expertise of our companies, their project management skills and experience with the economic, financial and institutional issues raised by these projects enable them to offer clients global solutions: design, construction/rehabilitation, financing, operation and maintenance. They have also developed wide-ranging expertise in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

 
GENERAL PRINCIPLES

  • Innovative excellence at the service of design
  • The Innovation and R&D policy of French construction firms, which has always been among their priority development strategies, is implemented in many and varied fields: technical and technological innovation and research into the use of materials, the main objective being to improve quality and efficiency, to meet cost and lead time constraints and, finally, to protect the environment. At the same time, companies must constantly strive to obtain certification for the activities of their parent company and of all its subsidiaries in various fields: quality (ISO 9000 et seq.), the environment (ISO 14000 et seq.) and safety (OHSAS 18001).

    For SEFI companies, innovation is the very heart of their business plan. In addition to the work of their specialised teams, innovation is an aspect in which for many years all their teams have been involved through annual competitions. In certain companies, such competitions can yield several hundred suggestions by groups of workers who get together in response to this challenge. Prizes are awarded not only for solutions to technical problems but also economic and organisational aspects. Global dissemination of these innovations is then facilitated by the company intranet networks. Moreover, this policy has given new impetus to member companies environment charters. Innovation prizes have also been awarded to our companies by specialised professional associations (the FNTP Innovation Prize).

    In the field of R&D, French companies have begun implementing an active policy of partnerships with external organisations and with companies in other sectors.
    Recycled materials have become the focus of the research of French companies with the recent implementation of recycling processes, in particular within the framework of the demolition of buildings and infrastructure. This recycling drive has been backed up by the development of environment-friendly products.

  • Social development - A constant concern
  • Social development is also an essential element of our companies' policies. The construction industry is characterised by high labour intensity. It also helps generate many jobs. At international level, our companies chiefly employ local manpower, thus helping reduce poverty in developing countries. Given the increasingly stringent technical demands of this sector and the need to maintain quality, our companies must make considerable efforts to train staff and raise their awareness of new methods and processes. 

  • The safety of workers - A major concern ofr French Contractors
  • Considerable progress has been made in the prevention of industrial accidents. The actions undertaken in this area have led to the implementation of awareness-building measures, training initiatives and the sharing of information with the staff. These initiatives have gone hand in hand with competitions designed to disseminate «good practices» within the company and to award prizes for the best initiatives. Also, numerous partnerships have been set up with external organisations to promote prevention and safety.
    For several years, the member companies in SEFI have taken steps to obtain certification in various fields.

    Contractors understand their responsibility not only towards their employees but also towards the entire community. From the start of work on construction sites, all possible measures are taken to guarantee the safety and well-being of all the persons who may be affected temporarily or permanently by the execution of works (noise abatement, reduction of pollution resulting from the use of materials, management of traffic and access of third parties during work, etc.). Furthermore, technical processes and solutions have increasingly been implemented on construction sites to improve safety, and French contractors have made great strides in the field of R&D (for example, the introduction of electronic sensors in the structure of buildings to detect anomalies before problems occur, etc.). Finally, we should mention the development of surveillance and maintenance procedures connected with contracts, in particular in the case of PPPs, which increase the companies' ability to anticipate problems and take action more effectively in the area of prevention and safety.

  • Improving the contractual framework
  • In the area of contracts, French companies, in harmony with the accepted doctrine of international organisations, have set themselves the aim of making contracts more accurate and secure through the promotion of better relations among partners and the efficient sharing of responsibilities with clients, whether public or private. In this context, SEFI organises periodic meetings with international organisations such as the World Bank, in cooperation with CICA, regional development banks, various specialised organisations of the UN or of the OECD and the different institutions of the European Union working in these areas. SEFI is helping to improve the existing texts and practices through active participation in the working groups of the European International Contractors (EIC) and of the CCI, the ultimate aim being to draw up recommendations or guidelines for contractual clauses. They are then the focus of negotiations with other institutions, such as FIDIC.


    GLOBAL CAPACITY

    As we have already mentioned, the member companies in SEFI have the capacity to manage all the different phases of a project: design, construction/rehabilitation, financing, operation and maintenance. They have also developed particular skills for the management of PPP projects, whatever their nature or legal form.

  • Design
  • Design allows companies to offer efficient tailored technical solutions. These solutions are increasingly accompanied by appropriate legal-financial engineering that may involve aspects such as the legal and statutory framework, the necessary administrative formalities, the environmental standards, the imperatives of sustainable development, etc. The all-inclusive nature of this approach enables the private financing of infrastructure projects, in particular through concessions. Finally, the combination of all these factors enables companies to offer their customers novel construction possibilities.

  • Construction and operation/maintenance
  • SEFI members offer a wide range of competences in many fields such as construction (houses, administrative buildings, technical facilities, etc.), roads, motorways, bridges, airports, harbours, canals, railways, subways, tram lines and other means of transport, different types of power stations, digging of foundations and underground facilities, water treatment and distribution, hydrocarbon and water pipelines, urban development, maintenance services, the New Information and Communication Technologies, etc..
    These companies offer a comprehensive range of types of contracts: works contracts, project management contracts, turnkey contracts, service contracts, etc. Over many years, the major French construction contractors have acquired wide-ranging, tried and tested international experience in these particular fields.
    Maintenance is the final logical stage in any operationIt is now generally recognised that it is sensible to integrate maintenance from the outset of the project, as it optimises all the functions and does much to help limit costs..

  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Thanks to their wide-ranging and long-standing expertise, French contractors have developed particular know-how in public-private partnerships and delegated management.

    The major French construction infrastructure contractors have acquired complete mastery of these fields, not only in their design but also in their application, which they have tailored to the needs of modern economies and to those of emerging countries.

    Nowadays, in the face of the daunting challenge of meeting the need for the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, whether they be in emerging countries, developing countries, industrialised countries or countries in transition, it has become obvious to all the economic actors involved that «purely public» or «purely private» mechanisms no longer fit the bill. Clearly, project financing techniques are better suited to industrial-type projects which are developed in toto by the private sector than to projects which must incorporate the concept of socio-economic utility and which, ultimately, call for close and continuous cooperation between the public and the private sector. The demands of a quality public sector militate in favour of maintaining the responsibility and supervision of the State or of the public authority. This principle, it must be said, is not underpinned by any ideological considerations; it is a conclusion drawn from simple observation of the current stalemate situation.

    Thus, it can be seen that nowadays Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are not simply a budgetary tool, but a fully-fledged instrument that encourages co-development and contributes at an operational level to general socio-economic growth. When such instruments are properly designed from the outset, they guarantee optimum satisfaction for the three key actors, i.e. the State/public authority, the citizen/consumer and the private operator.

    Discussions are held on a regular basis on this issue with representatives of international development banks, the European Union and other international institutions and the civil stakeholders concerned. Also, it is taking part in some of the many seminars that have been organised on this issue to raise awareness of what the experience of French contractors has shown to be the key success factors for PPP projects..