On Target: Leadership in Passives for Power


Roland R. Ackermann, Correspondent Editor, Bodo's Power at Cefem Power

Roland R. Ackermann

Bodo's Power correspondent editor Roland R. Ackermann recently interviewed Lionel and Jérôme Fangier, the CEOs of the French company Cefem Power, sons of the founder of the Cefem Group, which has developed a clear objective: to become the European leader in passive components for power electronics.

 

Mr. Lionel Fangier, Mr. Jerome Fangier – could you please give us a short description of Cefem Power, its history and its present status?

Cefem Power is a business unit of the Cefem Group, industrial group, along with the two other business units Cefem Process and Cefem Solar. The Group was created in 1987 in Ardèche in the southeast of France by Georges Fangier and initially supplied small power magnetic components designed for UPS.

This business, which operated out of the family garage of its founder, would go on to become Cefem Power. Very quickly, the magnetic components became increasingly large and the garage was no longer big enough: The first factory was built in the beginnings of the 1990s. After a period of consolidation, in 2005 a toric winding business in Grenoble, as well as a subsidiary in Romania for Eastern European countries, came into being. Today, the Cefem Power business unit consists of:

  • 6 production sites: Saint Michel de Boulogne / Grenoble / Lyon / China / Romania/ Châteauroux
  • 3 research offices: Saint Michel de Boulogne and Lyon for magnetic components, Châteauroux for film capacitors

In 2014, the development of the Cefem Group was accelerated through external growth. Its range of products initially expanded with the Cefem Power film capacitors (ex SCR) and in 2016 with the low-frequency magnetic components “Boige and Vignal”. Today, the group is still owned and controlled 100% by the founding family, the Fangiers. Our father Georges Fangier is still president, and his children are the managing directors.

 

What does Cefem Power offer?

Cefem Power works almost exclusively in the markets of power electronics:

  • Energy (UPS and renewable)
  • Rail
  • Industrial
  • Aeronautical

Cefem Power is a specialist in the development and manufacture of passive components for these markets:

Mid-frequency power components: All these products are developed to measure for our customers and manufactured in the new factory in Ardèche (2012). The products, from a few VA to 250kVA, are sized for electrical frequency signals that can reach, depending on the applications, 40kHz for rail, 120kHz for UPS and renewable energy.

Boige & Vignal” higher power magnetic components: These products are held in high regard on railway and industrial markets, and they are also developed and manufactured to specification and manufactured at the historic Boige et Vignal site in Lyon. For a power of up to 500kVA, the components are in low frequency. Since they are developed for use on trains, the mechanical design is studied. In fact, an engineer is specially dedicated to this and our industrial tools allow us to manufacture magnetic components weighing up to 2 tons.

Film capacitors: Our film capacitors are developed and manufactured at the factory in Châteauroux (2 hours south of Paris). These products can be standardized with a catalog range or developed to specifications. Our industrial tool allows us to wind all films, in combination with our experience, meaning that Cefem Power masters capacitors from just a few volts up to 100,000V. To sum up, we are specialists in small to medium-sized series adapted to specific customer needs. Regardless of the range of products, our goal is always to find the best technical/economic balance for our customers.

 

Why do you cover such a wide range with your various acquisitions?

These acquisitions are part of the strategy of the Cefem Group, for the past 25 years, has aimed to become one of the leaders in passive components for power electronics. Mastering medium frequency magnetic components up to 250kVA was our first axis of development. In 2014, the range of products was enlarged with film capacitors. This logically led us to offer our customers more powerful magnetic components, the “Boige & Vignal” range.

The objective was to reach a critical size, to be stronger together in the face of global competition. We also hope to simplify the development and improve the performance of our products through the cumulative expertise of each entity.

 

And what is this expertise?

For magnetic components, we have become experts in mastering losses and heating – a mastery that was initiated several years ago thanks to the high qualification of all the conductors and cores. This qualification phase continues with permanent technological monitoring, generating data which have been integrated into software that has been developed by our team of engineers.

This complete software is constantly being improved; it allows us a short prototype phase and most importantly it allows the developed components to be completely optimized. In addition, each component development is performed according to the “design to cost” method: This design method, whose goal is the competitiveness of products and their perfect technical adaptation, proposes several parallel alternative solutions in response to a need, creating a Design / Development / Prototyping / Industrialization loop.

This unique approach is optimal when the customer's research department and Cefem Power's research department work hand in hand. The effectiveness of the development is thereby considerably improved and the impact on the value chain of the business is immediate.

The industrialization and manufacturing of the developed parts is carried out by our teams, whose expertise was first acquired back in 1987 for medium frequency components and as early as 1949 for the more powerful “Boige & Vignal” range: capitalising on industrial experience plays a large role in our professions.

Finally, logistics has been the cornerstone of the system. What is the point in manufacturing the best products in the world if you cannot adapt to the logistical constraints of your customers? Assisted by their demands, we have implemented Kanban and just-in-time systems that ensure D+5 deliveries.

 

What about expertise in the area of capacitors?

For the capacitors, the expertise we have accumulated since 1949 has allowed us to position ourselves as a supplier of film capacitors on markets as varied as rail, UPS, pulsed lasers for scientific and medical applications, aeronautics, electrical motors, electromagnetic compatibility, professional audio, very high-fidelity, etc.

In addition to our standard range, our R&D team works upstream to propose innovative solutions in term of compactness (energy density superior to 700 J/l), safety (segmented films, connected components) for voltages of up to 100kVDC and a temperature range of up to +150°C. We care about adapting to customer requirements or even exceeding them by offering geometry that facilitates the installation of the components and minimises the cost to the customer. Finally, our organisation and our human and material resources allow us to respond to requests within a short period of time and to deliver equally a single unit as well as small, medium and large series.

 

What does the future hold for Cefem Power?

First, maintaining our level of technical requirements. Our products are known and recognized in the field of power for their technical quality, and we will maintain this level. Then continuing to improve the service provided to our customers: reducing the development time for products, offering even better performance logistics contracts... There are many avenues available to provide a product/ service combination that ensures an even higher performance.

From the point of view of the development of Cefem Power, we have a resolutely global vision. Our customers exist and are developing worldwide. We are already established in Romania, India, and China, and our vocation is to be there for our customers in all of their markets.

 

Source: Bodo's Power Systems, September 2018