The industry’s one-stop line of supply for the demolitions train25 January 2023
Few companies can boast that they are able to supply any and all demolitions requirements, but CBRNergetics views itself as an outlier in the field. Providing products from initiation to detonation and deactivation to safe disposal, the company aims to cover the whole supply chain – R&D, quote, contract, production, licensing, freight services and delivery. We speak to Kevin Catallo, commercial director at the company, to learn more.
The supply of explosives might be something of a niche part within the modern defence industry, but it is no less vital because of it. As a result, there are not very many companies involved in this crucial sector, and those that do exist tend to be either the few large manufacturers of particular and specific kinds of explosives or else smaller subsets that deal primarily with explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). Due to this, armed forces and other would-be end users typically have to spread their purchases out wide across a host of companies to ensure they have met their full supply requirements.
One company, however, prides itself on being able to supply the entire range of demolition products, ensuring customer’s have a one-stop supply line, says Kevin Catallo, commercial director at CBRNergetics. “There aren’t a lot of companies, we found, that would look at the entire supply chain and then be able to deliver everything,” he notes. “Some of the companies that deal with EOD, they only deal with EOD equipment, or they will only deal with demining missions.”
“CBRNergetics’ wide portfolio allows the company to become a one-stop shop for demolitions, supplying the entire package required by the end user who would otherwise have to go to multiple vendors.”
CBNRergetics, on the other hand, are able to provide what they term ‘the complete demolition train’. This isn’t solely referring to the Semtex explosives, detonators and equipment that initiates demolitions charges, or the range of training equipment for counter IED and EOD forces and battlefield simulation equipment that the company provides – it’s also taking into account the full supply chain in order to transport equipment and explosives to where they need to go, and the documentation required to enable this.
Tailored to all requirements
This can be a challenge, because the products that CBRNergetics supply can vary widely depending on the end user’s desires. Many of the company’s clients are combat engineers or special forces, who tend to require breaching explosives and other specialised equipment – as do law enforcement agencies, who also make up part of CBRNergetics’ client pool. Army land forces, on the other hand, often look for battlefield simulation equipment, which the company provides in the form of ground burst or air burst pyrotechnics, used in training exercises.
For Catallo, the key behind the company’s ability to provide this range is because they consider the entire supply chain from the moment a potential client reaches out for quotation or when the company prepares a tender. “It seems like it should be something that’s quite standard, but we found that’s actually been quite a differentiator,” he notes.
The company then tailors its products to the end user’s requirements, while planning 12–24 months down the road, enabling it to take care of the export licencing ahead of time. This is particularly valuable when it comes to overseas freight, where companies can be hesitant to move Class One explosives.
“The freight part always tends to be the tail that wags the dog,” Catallo notes. “Making or getting the product is a lot easier than figuring out how to move it and then actually delivering it to whichever country, seaport or airport that [the end user] wanted.”
CBRNergetics’ wide portfolio allows the company to become a one-stop shop for demolitions, supplying the entire package required by the end user who would otherwise have to go to multiple vendors. This removes the headache of dealing with multiple licensing processes, while also reducing shipping costs – which can become prohibitively expensive when dealing with multiple suppliers in differing locations.
The company’s strong relationships with manufacturers across the world enable it to provide this range, whether it’s Semtex explosives, initiation equipment, detonators or battle simulation pyrotechnics that are required, and more beyond that.
Light the fuse
In terms of research and development, CBRNergetics’ portfolio has been considerably boosted by its focus on the more venerable aspects of the initiation train. Here, Catollo cites the company’s purchase of highly useful piece of intellectual property a few years ago for a product called the Match Fuzee.
Described by Catallo as “a simple match with a speck of special pyrotechnic composition”, the match fuzee burns with high-heat and no flame, and is designed for initiating fuses.
“To our knowledge, you can’t get it anywhere else in the world,” Catallo adds.
“This simple little product, which has been around forever, is now a core product that we offer. We bought the old intellectual property […] and iterated it, because the formula was old, and now we have it with our own Nato stock number.”
“We want to be known as a solutions-based company, where if you have a requirement that is in our remit, we can provide it. We want to be able to work with the end users, provide them with the information [we have] and get the feedback to be able to provide the solution.”
The company has done similar R&D work with a new tripwire flare, where they’ve modernised an old design, and for a number of other products in the past few years. “We see a gap for these small, simple devices,” Catallo says, “and while bigger companies are moving on to bigger things, we’ve focused on being able to provide these niche items.”
Another key part of CBRNergetics operation is the bespoke solution that it offers, relying on a deep knowledge of the product range it supplies, and from there, how to present those products to meet the end users’ requirements.
“That’s key,” Catallo adds. “Gain an understanding of what it is the country or armed forces you’re dealing with actually want. Some products and requirements are more suitable for certain group and locations – aim to effectively provide a solution.”
At the same time, it’s imperative to maintain a degree of flexibility in what you’re supplying and how you intend to deliver it. “Something can always go wrong,” Catallo notes, citing the events of the past two years, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “So, there has to be enough flexibility to be able to figure it out.”
For Catallo, then, the most important factor for CBRNergetics is the company’s firmly held belief that it can provide the best possible service and products to the armed forces or law enforcement end users, providing solutions to all of their complicated and specialised requirements. “We want to be known as a solutions-based company, where if you have a requirement that is in our remit, we can provide it,” he says. “We want to be able to work with the end users, provide them with the information [we have] and get the feedback to be able to provide the solution.”