Blog > Corporate > The traceability of our manufacturing processes: guarantee of quality and conformity of our products

The traceability of our manufacturing processes: guarantee of quality and conformity of our products

Where do the raw materials come from, how are they transported to our workshops, how are our products manufactured, stored and delivered to our customers?  Who carries out the quality controls? Dive into the quality traceability system of our manufacturing processes.

We efficiently trace each step of the manufacturing process, from the receipt of raw materials to the delivery of the finished product to the customer.  This traceability allows our teams and  customers to follow each stage of production and ensure the quality and conformity of our products.  And because the manufacture of metal structures differs from that of concrete structures, Matière® has defined specific traceability processes.

Metal industry: Unibridge®, MPB®, caisson, walkway, …

The raw material – usually steel plates – is ordered by our buyers and then delivered to our metal factories with certificates of conformity associated with the Delivery Note. Once the plate has been received, its certificate of conformity is verified by a person in charge who assigns it an internal number. This number is reported on each plate and it is he who will make it possible to trace it during allthe stages of production: oxy-cutting, welding and assembly.

The oxy-cutters control the cutting quality of the plate in real time and write the marks and the number of the plate on a flow sheet (case number, dimensions, etc.) , which is then retrieved by the flow manager.  Next step: welding, whose processes, which vary according to the product to be manufactured, are defined upstream via a welding book containing QMOS and DMOS (Quality and Description of the Welding Procedure).  A Welding Inspector accredited and external to Matiere® then verifies, from the welding book, the conformity of the process with the international standards to which the final product must meet.  For this weld, the process is identical: detailed follow-up reported on a sheet, inscription of the initials of the welder on each welded part, visual self-control by our internal teams, verification by internal controllers certified COFREND*, who then give their agreement for the following steps of milling, shot blasting and painting.  Then it’s time for assembly: the teams fill out a report and systematically self-check their work which is then checked by the quality manager.  Each step of sandblasting and painting is recorded in a report which is archived in order to be included in a final document that will be sent to the customer.  Each coat of paint gives rise to an ACQPA (Association for Certification and Qualification in Anticorrosion Paint) control which is plotted on a sheet. Last step: storage and delivery of the finished product.  A certificate of product conformity is issued for each product that leaves the factory: the product is then either stored at the factory or delivered to the site.

Concrete industry

It is the Studies/Prefabrication coordinator of our concrete plants who defines the quantities and diameter of the reinforcing steels to be ordered. Once the steels have been received, the workshop manager checks the quantity, diameter and AFCAB** certification via the delivery note.

From receipt of steel to the prefabrication of concrete parts requires several production phases. First step: the cutting and shaping of the steels which is carried out according to the nomenclature of the Good For Execution Plan (BPE).  A flow sheet is established daily per structure and per machine to track the origin of the steels and their traceability.  The assembly of the reinforcement cages are carried out according to a rib mounting sheet and the BPE. Once the quality of the ribs and reinforcement cages has been checked by a dedicated team, the reinforcement cages are labelled with their number and the name of the structure and then transported to the concreting area.  Then it’s time to prepare the concrete: the raw materials needed for its manufacture (aggregates, admixtures, binders) are weighed, checked and stored in clearly identified places. Each entry of raw materials is recorded in a register. Concrete is manufactured at the request of the concrete production manager according to a specific formula for each structure.  A production order is formulated daily to carry out the formwork and concreting steps. The production team shall place the reinforcement cage corresponding to the labelling number indicated on the production order. After self-control of the positioning of the reinforcement cage in the formwork and the respect of the coating, the covers are set up to close the formwork.  Before carrying out the concreting, an internal control is carried out on the cleanliness and tightness of the formwork as well as on the positioning of the cage. These controls are traced on quality monitoring sheets.  Once the concrete has been checked and the mould checked, the concrete is poured in the mould and then smoothes the unformatted parts. The workshop manager checks the strength of the concrete before formwork, then each part is identified by a CE marking and a concrete prefabrication report number. A visual inspection of each part makes it possible to identify possible non-conformities and to implement corrective actions.

The delivery of the product is made according to the loading plan transmitted by the work manager to the workshop manager, who will specify to the driver the instructions for setting and strapping the parts established by our design office. Last step: the signature of the packing slip and the awareness letter recalling the safety instructions for the driver.

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Unibridge® Famara Ibrahima Sagna Bridge in Marsassoum: a major structure in Senegal


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From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge


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Blog > Corporate > From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge

From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge

Header article Unibgidre

Claude Valdenaire still remembers the day, almost 19 years ago, when the director of the company, Philippe Matière, asked him to “invent” a modular bridge. He then held the position of head of the Metal Construction Design Office. 

“Philippe Matière, a true entrepreneur at heart, wanted to develop a temporary modular bridge activity for quick use for a war site in Kosovo,” he explains.  I sketched the first drawings in my office, then everything went very fast. I played the role of conductor with a small team composed of Philippe Matière and Mr. Lestrade, sales manager. In order not to work alone and to have this concept validated by an internationally recognized engineering office, we finally asked the designer of works of art JMI (Jean Muller International) of the EGIS group to help us. »

The vision of a new modular bridge

Philippe Matière had a very clear idea of what would later become Unibridge® bridges: a modular structure, quick to assemble, economical, installation by crane or by launching, transportable in 40-foot containers and complying with all international standards. “Designing beams that were containerizable was critical for Philippe Matière, who understood the economic interest of container transport compared to bulk,” says Claude Valdenaire.

For their part, the notions of modularity and speed of assembly were inspired by the temporary modular bridges invented by Donald Coleman Bailey for the British Army. “ Shortly before the Second World War, Bailey had developed a bridge with fairly light modular panels (400 kg max per component) assembled by axes that could be mounted just with human force and even under enemy fire ,” says Claude Valdenaire.

From sketch to Unibridge® concept

Realized in a few months, the first version of ideas (V0) was never manufactured. After several prototypes (V1 & V2), it was finally the V3 in 2007 that gave birth to the Unibridge® concept: a simple system of standard metal structures in prefabricated “lego” produced in factories, delivered as a kit and assembled on the site seamlessly, for lengths and widths on demand! Its advantages: its modularity, the simplicity of the construction and transport of Unibridge® boxes, its speed of assembly.

Other virtues: the simple nature of the connections with ears and axes between technically very robust modules and the exceptional quality of the materials used for its construction and in particular for the axes, which make it a unique product in the world. Industrial production begins and the first bridges are delivered, not in Kosovo, but in France, in Cantal to open a road in the village of Massiac and then in the ski resort of Les Orres in the Alps. 

The first (big) success of the new modular bridge

The contracts signed in the Philippines in 2008 marked the beginning of the ascent of the Unibridge® Bridges and its evolution into a definitive bridge.  “At the time, the Philippine government was looking for a concept of definitive metal bridges, following a breach of contract with a British supplier of Bailey-type panel bridges,” recalls Claude Valdenaire.  Our Australian sales representative saw an advertisement in the local newspaper and our sales teams approached the Philippine contractors to finalize a first contract for 72 Unibridge® bridges with the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highway) and a second contract for 418 bridges with the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). Then we moved to present our concept even if it was not finalized!

A colossal first order that led Matière® to partner with Eiffage to benefit from its know-how in large-scale production.

Subsequently, we replaced the metal decking  with a concrete deck slab and our temporary all-metal bridge became a definitive mixed bridge! » 

Always evolving

Unibridge® bridges are constantly evolving and it is currently a seventh version that should see the light of day in early 2022, under the leadership of Luc Vandemoortele, Material Engineer based in Indonesia. 

The objective is twofold: to incorporate the structural improvements detected over the course of the applications and to revise all the documents necessary for its production (plan, quantitative, models and 3D animation) in order to create a homogeneous production environment. “This V7 will make it possible to gain in efficiency but also to make our concept even safer,” says Luc Vandemoortele.  Our goal is to have a complete Unibridge® catalog with standard parts for both its production and construction. This standardization is key to selling our product in markets with different regulations. »

A wordwide succes

Since its creation, the Unibridge® concept has experienced tremendous success with multiple achievements in many countries, especially in the process of development, to improve traffic flows in cities, such as Senegal for example. Autoponts in the city (flyover), road bridges in rural areas, urban motorways… The Unibridge® adapts to multiple configurations. 

While he is proud to have contributed to the birth of this unique concept, Claude Valdenaire attributes this success to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Matière family. “My only merit is that I was able to sort out good and bad ideas to create a simple and competitive product,” he says.  Philippe Matière knew how to sniff out the right idea, believe in it and invest in study, production and sales! This quest for innovation and this entrepreneurial spirit is transmitted from father to son and continues to animate the company today! » 

More than 14,000 Unibridge® beams manufactured and delivered on all continents, representing 150,000 tonnes of steel.

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The traceability of our manufacturing processes: guarantee of quality and conformity of our products


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Expatriates: our ambassadors outside France


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Blog > Corporate > Expatriates: our ambassadors outside France

Expatriates: our ambassadors outside France

header article drapeaux

In 2020, 65% of the company’s turnover was generated outside France. This successful internationalisation is partly based on the commitment of its expatriate employees, who are the strongest links in the company.

Dive into the daily life and challenges of our expatriates with Sandrine Taillefer, HR Director at Matière®, surrounded by Chawki Djouini, Export Manager in Algeria, Guillaume Dumont, Sales Manager in Panama and Claude Valdenaire, Export Engineer in the Philippines.

Was expatriation a choice or a chance?

Guillaume Dumont, sales manager, Panama: Definitely a choice! I have always been attracted to international business and have been an expatriate for most of my career. After my studies, I went to Hong Kong as part of a VIE (Volontariat International in Entreprise) and since then I have never stopped moving! The United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Colombia… Panama is the eighth country in my professional life.

Chawki Djouini, Export Manager, Algeria: A real choice, even if my case is special because I am an expatriate in my country of origin, Algeria! I am one of the longest-standing collaborators of Matière®, with 31 years of collaboration. After 10 years in France, I wanted to return to my native country. I was first assigned as a consultant for Matière® in Algiers, then the management offered me a position as a business manager.

Claude Valdenaire, export engineer in the Philippines: This is also a personal choice. My motivation? To change my professional and personal environment to gain in fulfilment. I started my career in Papeete as part of a VIE, then I was expatriated to Thailand, Tunisia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Israel and since 2014 to the Philippines for Matière®.

Tell us about the expatriation situation at Matière®.

Sandrine Taillefer, HR Director at Matière®: Out of 500 employees, Matière® has 25 expatriates, most of whom work in Africa, particularly in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. Indonesia is also a major expatriation country, as well as the Philippines, which was our first expatriation country in 2008. We distinguish between two types of expatriates: business managers and site staff. The business managers canvass new markets and study their potential, in order to decide whether or not to establish a local structure. This is the case in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, where our long-term contracts require the presence of Matière® expatriates (business managers, engineers, administrative and financial staff) and the creation of a local structure that works closely with local players.

At the same time, we send expatriate site personnel for one-off operations in the countries: site managers or works supervisors who are responsible for the assembly of our products, which are manufactured in our factories in France.

What are your missions as expatriates?

Guillaume Dumont: I have been living in Panama for two years and have autonomy to explore development opportunities in Latin and Central America. Why Panama? Because it is a logistical and transport hub, ideally located for easy travel to the countries in the region. Today, I am the only Matière® representative in this area. 

Chawki Djouini: Based in Algeria since 2010, I am in charge of business for the Maghreb and the Middle East, a strategic area with major infrastructure needs. I am responsible for projects from prospecting to the delivery of the structures to the construction sites and I also manage the commercial entity of Matière® in Algeria.

Claude Valdenaire: When I arrived in the Philippines in 2014, Matière® had already set up a structure, as the Philippine market had been identified as the most attractive in South East Asia. Today, we are two expatriates and 14 Filipino employees. Our mission is to develop Matière® in the Philippines by exporting our know-how, ideas, engineering and our prefabricated mixed product Unibridge®.

What are your main challenges?

Guillaume Dumont: The priority is metal and our Unibridge® technology. We are faced with a strong reluctance to use anything new, as customers prefer technologies that they have mastered. Our main competitor is concrete, with a major player in Mexico.

Chawki Djouini: Indeed, convincing our clients to build metal bridges is a real challenge in the Maghreb and the Middle East because the concrete culture is very strong for engineering structures.

Claude Valdenaire: Our challenge is to provide our clients with the skills they do not have and to satisfy them at every stage of the project. We are responsible for meeting deadlines, quality, safety and cost control, all of which enable us to gain the trust of our clients.

How does Matière® support its expatriates?

Sandrine Taillefer: We provide administrative, material and technical support. We provide them with an “Expat” package for social and pension coverage and an “Expat” contract including local allowance, housing assistance, vehicle, family air transport. Our objective is to enable our employees to maintain the same standard of living as in France and to maintain their pension rights when they return.

Chawki Djouini: We are autonomous in our daily work, but supported by Matière® for all technical, legal and administrative aspects. Before the health crisis, Matière® organised an annual meeting of all the business managers to discuss our issues and technical challenges. 

Claude Valdenaire: Matière® supports us on a commercial level through its initial prospecting actions as well as the setting up and training of a local team. We can rely on a single contact person at the French headquarters. As the point of entry in France, he facilitates our relations with the factories, the purchasing department, the accounting department, etc.

In your opinion, what are the keys to a successful expatriation?

Guillaume Dumont : Expatriation is a family choice, which has consequences on the lives of other family members. It is therefore necessary to build this project with your spouse by anticipating the changes in lifestyle and the possible cultural shocks. You also have to be autonomous and understand the codes and customs of the host country.

Claude Valdenaire: Mastery of the local language is also essential, as is a good understanding of local habits and professional codes. In Asia, for example, you never say no to clients. You mustn’t be arrogant and you mustn’t make them lose face.

Chawki Djouini: I totally agree! The balance in one’s life as a couple, the blossoming of one’s family, integration and social, cultural and professional wealth are key. Just like understanding the Arabic-speaking culture and customs: here it is human relations that count, you have to go and meet the clients.

Would you recommend expatriation to a young person?

Chawki Djouini: Expatriation is a life-changing experience. You need to have a real capacity to adapt, to be open to the world and curious, and to integrate into the customs of the country. For me, being an expatriate means becoming a citizen of the world and an ambassador for your native country in your host country. A country’s economy is not limited to its borders and to succeed, a State and therefore its companies, must send their employees around the world.

Claude Valdenaire: It is an experience that I highly recommend, provided that you alternate periods in France and abroad that you give priority to your family situation. It is often easier to expatriate at the beginning or end of one’s career or with young children. Expatriation is easier for the spouse if he can also pursue his career.

Guillaume Dumont: It’s very personal. Not everyone is suited to expatriation, above all, you need a strong desire and a real curiosity for different cultures. In my opinion, the VIE is a very good way to test this expatriation experience. 

Sandrine Taillefer: I agree with everyone’s point of view: expatriation is a great experience as long as it is anticipated, matured and constructed. Our expatriates play a key role for Matière®, as they represent the company in the host countries. They are our ambassadors. The health crisis has clearly shown the importance of having our staff on site: it is what allows us to continue our activity when it is no longer possible to travel.

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From idea to field: the story of a revolutionary modular bridge


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