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Shareholders visit Safran Electronics & Defense's Montluçon plant

3D loom : carbon fiber

On April 25, 2017, about 20 Safran shareholders visited Safran Electronics & Defense’s plant in Montluçon, central France. Safran Electronics & Defense is a european leader in inertial navigation, optronics and tactical drone systems.

Building on 80 years of experience, the Montluçon plant how houses some very high-tech activities. The group of shareholders was able to take a look behind the scenes at how inertial navigation systems for air, land and sea are manufactured and integrated.

The visit kicked off in the showroom with a presentation of the company and its products by plant general manager Cyril Bouytaud. The visit itself was led by Pierre Chambon, communications manager. Shareholders got a close-up look at the integration of Sperwer drone systems, including the launch system, gyrostabilized optronic assemblies and flight control systems, and they also watched a video demonstration of the next-generation Patroller, the French army’s new tactical drone. Offering endurance of over 20 hours, plus a reduced logistical footprint and unrivaled ease of operation, the Patroller provides further proof of Safran’s technology leadership.

The shareholders then visited Coriolis, a new production facility that is part of this plant. Covering some 20,000 square meters (216,000 sq ft), including 6,000 square meters (64,800 sq ft) of clean rooms, this new facility is wholly dedicated to the production of inertial navigation systems. Wearing protective gowns and shoe covers, the shareholders were able to see Safran employees hard at work on these sophisticated systems. They also witnessed the extremely complex processes involved in the production of laser gyros in clean rooms, and learned about molecular adhesion.


Did you know ?

What exactly is molecular adhesion ?

Molecular adhesion is an assembly technique used in the high-tech optics industry. The idea is to attach two parts without using a bonding material. The two surfaces adhere spontaneously because they “recognize” the other’s molecules. In optics, surface condition and flatness must be perfect. This technique bonds the two components permanently. However, it must be performed in an extremely clean environment, without any extraneous particles. That’s why it requires clean rooms and very complex equipment.

What’s a “clean room” ?

A clean room is a room in which the concentration of dust and other particles is carefully controlled, allowing very high-tech operations. For a room to be classified as “clean”, the incoming air has to be filtered, and the air pressure, temperature and humidity carefully controlled. The “cleanest” room in the Coriolis facility is class ISO 4, which means that there are no more than 10 particles in a cubic meter, compared to over 2 billion in a normal environment!

What does a laser gyro do ?

Laser gyros measure rotational speed by comparing two laser beams. This technology is based on the so-called Sagnac effect, and is increasingly used in the aviation industry. For example, laser gyros are used by airplanes to determine their position, autonomously and accurately. Today, some laser gyros are so accurate that they are capable of measuring the Earth’s rotation.