Can you outline what the company does?

Stéphane Phelep: We are specialists in pyrotechnic initiators and initiation systems. William Bickford, one of our ancestors, invented the famous Bickford safety fuse in 1831. Our unrivalled understanding of the chemistry of primary explosives, combined with the new technologies of electronics and communication, allows us to offer the most complete product portfolio to our customers. We cover a wide range of markets, such as mines and quarries, civil works, seismic exploration, defence and aeronautics, safety and security, and entertainment.

What key trends are currently impacting the pyrotechnic sector?

Several countries in the eurozone, including France, have been facing difficult times for several years now: defence budgets are lower and local players – who have benefitted from important recurrent sources of revenues for decades on preserved domestic playgrounds – must now work harder than ever at exporting to ensure development. They are facing significant pressures, not only on costs of products and services but also on adequacy and the responsiveness of their organisations.

Development in such a shifting environment is made even more complex by each country’s import/export regulations for defence material. Organisations must conform to the applicable export rules in their country of origin and also adhere to the import rules of each destination country. The REACH European Directive for the control of chemical substances puts some pressure on European firms. Local restrictions on certain chemical substances also tend to make the obsolescencemanagement process even more complex and difficult to control.

How are firms reacting to these regulatory and financial challenges?

Obviously, companies have no choice but to adapt to this changing environment and meet the applicable regulations. That said, individual factors – such as a firm’s structure, history and size – will impact the effort required.

As a small and independent player, Davey Bickford has the twin advantages of flexibility and reactiveness. Because pyrotechnic activity is dangerous, the company is used to strictly conforming to the applicable security and safety regulations, as well as anticipating regulatory changes. Our light and agile organisation, combined with the expertise of highly skilled professionals, allows us to respond in the best and most efficient manner.

What sort of products does Davey Bickford offer?

Acting as energy amplifiers, pyrotechnic initiators are key components for successful missions. The reliability and security of the systems our devices are mounted on directly depends on our components.

Successfully used for many years by the mining industry, our Daveytronic system is the perfect illustration of Davey Bickford’s ability to combine and associate the company’s knowledge of primary explosives and energetic materials with embedded electronics and smart communication technologies.

Can you tell us a little about your other services?

Over recent years, customer service expectations have changed continuously. Davey Bickford has always paid the highest attention to those needs.

The wide range of competencies, and the abilities of professional and devoted employees, along with the competitive advantage offered by the French technical and production centre at Héry, allows Davey Bickford to offer a range of services to customers, including pyrotechnics training, storage, dismantling, destruction, ageing studies and obsolescence management.

Do you have any interesting new products in the pipeline?

Unsurprisingly, our short and mid-term focus is on the qualification and implementation of environmentally friendly energetic materials as advantageous replacements of substances to which REACH restrictions apply.

In parallel, we will double our efforts to help defence customers benefit from the wide array of functionality permitted by the combination of pyrotechnics with the advanced technologies of embedded electronics and smart communication.

Essentially, our priority for tomorrow is roughly the same as it has always been: support our customers with the safest and most reliable pyrotechnic initiators and initiation systems.