Winoa, a company faced with the explosion of prices

Winoa, the world’s number one surface treatment company, ticks all the boxes for companies’ difficulties in the face of soaring energy costs. Its Cheylas plant is the twentieth power-consuming site in France. In a single day, its arc furnace consumes as much as Chambéry in two to three days.

The shot it produces is used as an abrasive in industry to clean painted metal surfaces. Fifty tons of steel (from recycled materials) are melted in a furnace heated to 1,800°C and, to be melted and then transformed into small steel balls, after being thrown onto a sheet of water. Winoa also uses gas to power another oven used to harden the shot.

Energy will account for half of production costs next year

“Until now, energy has represented around 15% of our manufacturing costs, excluding payroll. This year, it’s more than 30% and it could exceed 50% next year., explains Henry-Olivier Mattout, Purchasing Director. And this, despite the Arenh, the device forcing EDF to sell part of its electricity of nuclear origin at cost price to electro-intensive, of which Winoa is a part. This represented just over 60% of its power consumption.

The gas bill has been doubled. “We urgently had to find a new supplieremphasizes the purchasing director. Strangled financially, the previous one no longer honored his contract by invoking a safeguard clause. »

Chinese and Indian competition intensifies

Like many others, the company from Isère has not yet purchased all of its energy for 2023, given the current uncertainties about prices and production volumes. “ There will undoubtedly be power cuts. And we lack visibility on the respect of their commitments by our suppliers and customers”notes Henry-Olivier Mattout.

Winoa has implemented a calculation formula to gradually pass on the increase in its costs in its selling prices, depending on the evolution of energy prices and its purchases, with suppliers who show increases two digits. “Any anticipation is impossible. We expect to leave feathers there,” judge the ruler.

He also points to the rise of Chinese and Indian competitors who buy Russian gas and oil at discounted prices and do not have all the environmental constraints imposed in Europe, such as a cost of CO2.

Reduce production in France to increase it in Spain

According to him, the only solution involves decoupling gas and electricity prices and reforming a European market that no longer works. Today, electricity prices represent ten times their production costs. It’s insane »he explains.

France is thus pleading for the establishment of a system to cap the price of gas used to produce electricity. Discussions are lively within the EU. We will convince the other Europeans”, however assured Emmanuel Macron, Thursday, October 6, during a meeting with business leaders. According to him, the measure should be decided ” at the latest “ by the European Council of 20 and 21 October in Brussels.

The device has already been successfully tested in the Iberian Peninsula since the spring: the market price of electricity is two to three times lower than in France and Germany. Winoa, which has a factory in Spain, plans to increase its production there – and therefore to reduce it in France.

Cheaper electricity at night

In the meantime, a reflection is being carried out to find ways of saving energy. The company could adjust the schedules, in order to produce when electricity is cheaper, at night and in the afternoon. Not easy, because it means changing the work rhythm of the 180 employees of the site, which already operates 24 hours a day in three shifts, six days a week.

Winoa should respect the objective set by the government to reduce its energy consumption by 10%. “We are going to reduce our production by 10%, hence 10% less work”, underlines the boss of the purchases. The temperature in the offices will also be reduced by one degree. For a marginal impact: 0.5% of its energy costs.


Helping companies to better negotiate their contracts

A “negotiator” will be recruited in the coming days in Bercy to help industrial companies in their relations with energy suppliers, announced the Minister Delegate for Industry, Roland Lescure. “It will play the role of facilitator to support small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly energy-intensive ones, in their negotiations with energy suppliers”, he explained. The ministry wants “to systematize” support already implemented on a case-by-case basis with companies in difficulty such as the glassmaker Arc.

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