Safety first

Owned and managed by the Cassiano family, the organisation prides itself on its traditional Italian values and has grown to manage a production facility of over 6000 square metres, while its influence is felt worldwide.

Originally founded in the 1970s for the supply of fire suppression and detection equipment, trends and changes in the yacht and boat building market over the years resulted in the decision to strategically alter the portfolio in 2004 to clean agent extinguishing solutions. This move was made as a result of Halon fire systems being banned throughout Europe due to the negative properties and danger to life they cause through use of CO2 suppression technology – an especial threat in close areas such as those found on yachts. Clean agent gases, on the other hand, are refrigerant and act by rapidly eliminating heat rather than oxygen from a fire, creating swift and safe results. Catef SRL primarily offers two types of these clean agent gases knownas FM200 – supplied directly from the brand producer Dupont – and Novec 1230 that are ideally suited to the marine market through their non-toxic properties, making them safe in the instance of an accidental discharge, fastextinguishing credentials, which are vital for glass fibre vessels and minimal impact they have on the environment.

Over the past five years, the type of customer and vessel the company serves has also changed as Ann Micheli, international sales and marketing co-ordinator of Catef SRL explains: “Our main clients tend to be original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and boat builders, while our key traditional markets have always been in pleasure craft up to 24 metres, as well as super and mega yachts between 24 and 70 metres. As a result of the changes we have made to our portfolio and the effects of the economic crisis that have had a major impact on the pleasure yacht industry, our core markets have transformed substantially and we are moving up with regards to size to predominantly focus on the super and mega yacht arena. It is also due to the fact that we have achieved the maximum growth we can in the pleasure yacht area that we are increasingly focusing on workboats and passenger vessels, as well as offshore vessels including pilot boats and FPSOs. We have had to react to industry trends that are seeing vessels becoming bigger and better, even mega yachts are heading to 100 metres, and we have had to ensure that our solutions are certified for larger vessels.”

It is this flexibility to respond quickly to customer demand and market needs that sets Catef SRL apart from its nearest competition. The organisation also has very short lead times with quotes and orders being handled within weeks rather than months. The fully qualified in situ team of 17 staff also offer unrivalled technical knowledge, as well as premier project design, approval co-ordination, onsite commissioning and engineering supervision services, while international warranty and assistance service centres worldwide give customers easy access to support. Indeed, Catef SRL’s global presence has continued to grow in the past few years and as well as supplying every yacht builder in Italy, the company also holds lucrative partnerships in Asia, the US, Turkey, Spain, Norway and Australia.

Having recently obtained certification for installation on passenger vessels, the organisation has made its most notable move into the cruise ship arena and has already gained four contracts for the replacement of Halon Systems with its clean agent extinguisher solutions. The company’s unique, modular way of installing new fire suppression and detection systems is also growing in popularity as it eliminates the need for vessels to be dry docked throughout the installation and reduces downtime for clients. All design and project approval processes are carried out in-house, before an engineering supervisor is placed onboard the vessel to follow progress while it continues sailing. Additional materials are located at convenient ports along the vessel’s journey to enable the sequential phases to continue without delay. The first to benefit from Catef SRL’s capability was the Prince Albert 2 owned by Sea ships that took only four months to reach completion in August 2010, while the second is due for completion in October and two more are due to start in September.

“As long as there are Halon systems out there this will be a key market for us and I believe we can be very competitive within it. In the coming months we are also due to enter into a business partnership for the creation of a water mist product, known as Ultrafog, which will take us into a totally different area of safety systems that can be used within accommodation units. Once this is in place we will be able to provide our customers with a one-stop-shop for marine safety requirements and as part of this Catef is also able to supply custom made A60 approved fire dampers, addressable fire detection and alarm systems, as well as many other fire safety plan items. It is also important to note that our whole portfolio is custom designed and available in tailor-made sizes, shapes and colours,” Ann notes.

As part of an ongoing programme of investment Catef SRL is looking to continue its diversification into additional markets and with new innovative products planned for launch over the coming year, the company is hoping to serve customers in the traditional fishing and standard work boat sector. In order to meet this niche, which requires simple solutions that work every time and at a low cost, the company is creating a middle-range of product solutions, while the Ultrafog partnership will propel it further into the passenger vessel and offshore market. “We’re hoping to achieve up to 30 per cent year-on-year growth from now on and feel this is highly realistic considering the new markets, associations and customer bases we have formed in the past two years. Our overall vision, however, is to change the attitudes of the industry as a whole. We want to work hand in hand with our customers, to encourage OEMs to design the safety aspects of a vessel into the original concept rather than thinking of safety features last because they are obliged to have them – we hope to make boats safer for the future,” Ann concludes.

Recognised specialist in fire suppression and detection equipment

Recently completed first contract for cruise ship installation

Hoping to move into fishing and work boat arena