The industrial process passion

Mills, mixers, coolers, extruders, pellet mills do not have any secret for Seter company, specialised in building of processing lines for animals food. Exclusive distributor of Van Aarsen equipment for France, Seter company also designs, produces and installs its own equipment range. Let’s meet a specialist of industrial process.

“Machines are the beating heart of the factory, says straightaway Philipe Allard. Performance and reliability do not have to be lacking”. Since 2011, he directs, with his wife véronique Allard, Seter company (Realisation and Technical Study Society) based at Fuilet in Maine-et-Loire. “When we were subcontractor, for sheet metalwork services and for small equipment production, we have had the oportunity to buy the company, created in 1989 by George Grillot, a well-known figure in animal feeding field.”

With the arrival of the new owners, the company has taken a new turn. “The working methods has changed, with probably more professionalism and higher ambitions. For the rest, we continue to produce equipments which make the reputation of Seter brand”, explains Philippe Allard. The animal feeding represents the heart of Seter‘s profession, with tailor-made solutions, from spare part supply to installation of complete production lines. “The vast majority of our turnover is realised with the animal feeding activity. We are also manufacturers and installers of silos destined for cereal storage. The advantage of those two orientations, is to be able to complete the workshop’s timetable when the peak in animal feeding activity is finished”, says the company head. The site of Fuilet has 40 full-time employees, whose 10 sheet-metal worker and boilermakers who work at the workshop. The research unit has four draughtsmen, whose Philippe Allard himself. “For the most complicated projects, I keep a weather-eye open, he says. I spent 15 years in workshops as sheet-metal worker. I have acquired a very practical vision of manufacturing, which help me very much in the product conception.”


Widening to develop the company

Since the beginning of August, Seter has a new site at Romagné, a few kilometers from Fougères in Ille-et-Vilaine (35). “With the development of activity, we were starting to be cramped”, says Véronique Allard, in charge of Customer relationship management. But Seter also sees a way to be closer to its clients. “The situation is ideal, with big communication links close at hand. The new premises will allow us to greet our clients in better conditions.” For the moment, the great hall adjoining offices looks very empty. ” We are still focused to fill the packing cases but eventually, the site of Romagné will dedicated to assembly of manufactured parts in workshops of Angers.” If the premises widen, human resources are not left behind. Seter has recently hired a fitter, a boilermaker, a secretary and a technical sales représentatives in the person of Daniel Gardan. “It is only the beginning, informs Philippe Allard. Other recruitments are on the agenda, particularly to reinforce the draughtman team of the group.”

Van Aarsen, a leader to lean on

The best asset of Seter, is certainly its partnership with one of its first worldwide equipment suppliers : the Dutch group Van Aarsen. “The cream of industrial equipement which we find in food factories, says Daniel Gardan and continues : Seter is an exclusive distributor of their production tools such as pellet mills, hammer mills, mixers, etc. for France. We believe very much in the potential of this equipment, this is why we have made the choice of joining force with this company. The granulation and milling expertise of this brand be an authority. The fact that production of machines is carried on in Netherlands is a guarantee of quality whereas other brands do not hesiate to relocate the machines manufacture.” Among numerous references. Franck Vossen, regional director of animal feeding market in Van Aarsen, showcases the last huge order of equipment supplier in Sweden. “A complete high-performance factory. Without doubt, this is one of the amplest project realised in the last few years in Western Europe”, he notices.

Non-standard conception

In France, pellet mils, mixers and molasses mixers, installed by Seter come  from Van Aarsen know-how exclusively. Seter is in charge of everything there is to do in addition, according to customers needs. We also have our own range of handling, packaging, loading equipment. With several years of experience, we learn to match different components of the same production line for an optimal functioning”. Complete factories constructions are rare, not to say exceptional. In these conditions, the replacement of principal machines which reach the end of its life, represents the major market for equipment suppliers. However, Seter finds its groove. “It is often a question of installation of new equipments instead of the former ones. We have to show inventiveness in the expression of our know-how because of space and accessibility constraints of the projects. Non-standard projects, it is our everyday experience”, summarizes Daniel Gardan. In front of a competition composed of big companies, Seter is sometimes the only one to respond to a call to tender. “It is sometimes the machine which has to be adapted to its environment. It is necessary to redesign certain components, or thoroughly review certain machines. Offering personalised solutions, it is an effort which all equipment suppliers are not ready to make.” Concurrently with those “rare birds”, Seter directs the design and the realisation of complete granulation and extrusion lines, with building works which can take several months. “We are able to follow projects from needs assessment to the installation start-up.”, closes Daniel Gardan for who adaptibility is the first strength of Seter. But skilled staff must be found.

Transfer of know-how

“It has become a real challenge in our professions, says Véronique Allard. The applicants for those positions, which required know-how and motivation, are not queuing up”. However, the job is very interesting. For instance, at the workshop, technicians realise machines from start to finish. For Philippe Allard, seeing a new machine born, is something exciting : “It is necessary to have tranversal skills in sheet metal work, in general mechanics and also in electrotechnics. In this activity, there is not routine.” It is certainly fitter teams who are the most difficult to hire. Seter is present in whole France, with building works which may take some time. The fitters are compelled to move over long distances and during period which can be long. “These professions are demanding, but the difficulties to find skilled staff occur not only in our activities. All manual and industrial jobs are confronted with.” says Véronique Allard. To overcome this situation, Seter trains internally apprentices in animal feeding specificties. “Young apprentices are through contact with the most experimented workers in order to the know-how is transfered between generations. It is the same at the workshop as at the research unity”, adds Philippe Allard, who emphasises the integrational side of Seter‘s staff.

And the company shows encouraging results. “A great dynamics that we want maintain step by step, without ever losing sight of the essential : to meet customer needs” he concludes.



Source : Olivier Wendling, Seter La passion du process industriel, La revue de l’alimentation animale. September 2014. Monthly n°679. p48-53

Translation in English (Original in French)