|Richard E. Reimels|
Rich Reimels is president of Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W). He is also responsible for Babcock & Wilcox Volund, in Denmark. Prior to being named president of B&W Canada in April 2002, Reimels was vice president of B&W International Service, including international joint ventures. Previous positions included acting general manager of Babcock & Wilcox Volund, director of Project Services for the B&W Fossil Power Division, and general manager of Allen-Sherman-Hoff, which is a division of B&W's Diamond Power International, Inc. subsidiary. Reimels holds a bachelor's degree from State University of New York Maritime College, and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of New York.
Babcock & Wilcox Canada engineers, manufacturers, and services steam generation equipment for the Canadian electric utility and industrial markets and the global nuclear utility market.
Established in 1844, B&W Canada has grown from a small foundry manufacturing industrial machinery to a world leader in the design, manufacture, construction, and service of steam generation products. As Canada's largest manufacturer of these products, the company's portfolio includes a complete line of large fossil-fuel and biomass-fired boilers, nuclear steam generation systems, plus associated construction and after-market services. B&W Canada is able to tailor its dedicated engineering, manufacturing, and construction capabilities, and works with customers to deliver products and services according to their needs.
W-G: What are the key factors driving change in today's power generation marketplace?
RR: Today's marketplace is much more aggressive and we have seen a noted increase in global competition. With fewer power plants being built worldwide, suppliers are bidding for more international contracts, resulting in more competition for each contract.
Also, as plants age, we see an increase in the demand for maintenance and improvements. Plant owners are looking for complete service packages. And our customers are looking to increase the efficiency and lower production and operating costs of the equipment they have. So, while we are seeing fewer contracts for OEM equipment, there are more opportunities for service work.
Risk management has become another key factor-customers are looking to reduce their exposure to risk. As a result we have developed innovative contracting methodologies involving risk/reward scenarios that create closer project teams that share risks and rewards amongst all parties involved.
Safety concerns from accidents and terrorist threats continue to play a key role in the industry. New materials, tools, services, and processes that limit exposure for employees continue to be developed. B&W Canada's service and training programs, featuring extensive mock-ups and simulations, have been developed to help address these concerns.
As spent fuel pools at nuclear plants reach capacity, there will be renewed emphasis on the need to safely store and transport radioactive waste, particularly as Yucca Mountain develops. While B&W Canada's expertise with dry storage casks will provide an important opportunity in this area, companies specializing in transportation and security will also be monitoring these developments.
W-G: What impact does the political focus on decreasing environmental emissions have on the industry?
RR: The increasingly stringent environmental regulations (Kyoto ratification in Canada, and the Clean Air Act and "Clear Skies" Bill in the U.S.) have resulted in new opportunities to work with our customers to develop solutions. B&W Canada's recent $280-million (CDN) contract for New Brunswick Power's Coleson Cove Power Plant is a good example of this. Coleson Cove will be the second plant in North America to use Orimulsion(r) (a liquid fossil fuel). It will feature the largest wet electrostatic precipitator in a utility service application in North America, and a state-of-the-art combustion system, utilizing B&W technology, to minimize NOx emissions. The need to reduce emissions in both the U.S. and Canada will result in the continual development of environmental technology and equipment.
There has also been a greater public acceptance of nuclear power as an airborne emission-free power source. This could result in more nuclear power plant proposals over the next decade, which would be a significant boost for nuclear OEM suppliers.
W-G: How have the changes in the marketplace affected B&W Canada?
RR: While economic factors have led to downsizing, our diversification, experience, and innovations mitigated the effect on our workforce. We recently diversified our nuclear product lines, including our recent first shipment of eleven dry fuel storage casks. In addition, our launch into supplying reactor vessel closure heads has been very successful-we are the first company to supply replacement heads for all types of Pressure Water Reactors (PWRs) in North America.
Having a global employee base and highly skilled workforce presents significant advantages. We have considerable international experience in fossil and nuclear power plants, including every CANDU 6 plant, and in servicing every type of PWR. We have a workforce with a high level of expertise staffing our world-class manufacturing facilities. In fact, we nurture this by offering our employees professional development opportunities and encourage them to train in other areas to increase our flexibility and their career development.
We have earned our reputation for top quality products and unmatched customer service because of our employees. We encourage them to be innovative and forward thinking and to offer suggestions in support of our goals to improve processes, quality, and safety. For example, our Welding Training Centre, originally developed to provide high-quality training for our own workforce, was simply a cost of doing business. Then an employee suggested we look at it as a business opportunity and open it to the public. The initiative has been very successful and today the centre is a recognized private career college.
So, although global change and uncertainty can be difficult for any organization, a dynamic company with an international reputation, such as B&W Canada, can adapt.
W-G: How is B&W Canada meeting the challenge of a more competitive marketplace?
RR: We have always taken it for granted that our superior quality, technology, and experience would speak for itself. However, in today's aggressive marketplace we need to be much more proactive with our marketing programs and ensure that our current and potential customers are fully aware of the breadth of services and products we now offer. To this end, we have re-organized our marketing and sales talent into a team that will identify and analyze new opportunities and put together comprehensive, targetted marketing and sales strategies.
Becoming more competitive also means looking at every process we do and analyzing whether we can perform more effectively and efficiently. This is what our process improvement program is all about. We are focusing on strategic process improvements on several key issues. In addition, we have a permanent process improvement team and we encourage the submission of ideas from our employees at every level and department in the organization. Every idea is analyzed in a formal program that ensures all suggestions are carefully considered. In the past couple of years, we have been able to implement many initiatives with very positive results.
W-G: How important are ethics and accountability to success in the industry?
RR: The recent revelations of wrongdoing and resulting failure of several companies and has certainly demonstrated how vital ethics and accountability are to a company's success.
I believe that we must be completely committed to operating in an ethical manner throughout the organization. At B&W Canada and our parent organization, The Babcock &Wilcox Company, we reflect this commitment in our strict ethics policies and in annual ethics and compliance training.
In addition, we have embraced a more open and accountable relationship with our customers-collaborating with them to work through a project. The customer's project team and resident inspectors are involved in all day-to-day issues and operations concerning the project. We work side-by-side with them to strive for improvements in all areas of quality, safety, schedule performance, and cost control. In this respect, our commitment to being ethical and accountable has enabled us to forge strong relations with our customers, which can only help us succeed in the industry.
W-G: What role do you think research and development programs have in the industry's future?
RR: Power plant owners are looking at longer life spans and improved efficiencies for their facilities. This requires high quality, durable products, and modern technologies.
Innovative, customer-based solutions will be critical to the success of R&D programs in the industry. Our investment in Integran Technologies Inc., which resulted in the development of the successful GBEST(r) and Electrosleeve(r) technologies, has proven this true.
In addition, our in-house R&D program is looking at new materials, new design methods, new manufacturing methods/processes, better tools, and new products for existing and emerging markets. This program has become more market driven, placing priority on projects with a definite market need.
The political focus on emissions regulations will also result in new R&D initiatives because an essential component in controlling environmental emissions is the development and implementation of new technologies.
I believe the key to success and growth in today's marketplace is the willingness and ability to adapt to, and embrace, change. At Babcock & Wilcox Canada, our positive response to market change has enabled us to maintain our position as an industry leader for over 150 years.