Pool & Spa Scene’s Tracy Rolland joins a UK delegation as they visit three ProCopi production facilities in France…
Procopi is almost unique on the European pool and spa market in that it still manufactures 70 per cent of its products in France Having integrated the latest technologies into ultra modern factories, Procopi produce a full range of high quality pool and spa equipment at competitive price levels. An invitation to visit three large Procopi production factories in Brittany, France, with no UK equivalent, was an experience, I was not going to miss. After meets and greets by Procopi UK directors Paul Jeffries and David Dahl, the 15-strong British delegation boarded the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet International to France.
We thought the hundreds of screaming teenagers at the platform in Paris had been arranged by Procopi to welcome us to France but then we realised that they were there for the boy band One Direction – the Gendarme had underestimated the numbers and
had to get some sort of control before we could disembark. A few stops on the Metro and we were soon boarding the high
speed TGV to Rennes with our obligatory baguette tucked under our arms for a quick snack whilst glancing views of the Eiffel Tower. We arrived in Rennes two hours later after reaching speeds of 200mph – so different to travelling on the British rail network. Matthew Ransom, director of the Procopi group, was waiting to welcome us on our arrival. Later on, after meeting in the bar we wandered along to a typical French restaurant for a superb meal, washed down with a few glasses of the local vin rouge.
On Day Two, suitably refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we had breakfast and were soon on the coach travelling through
the French countryside to the first factory in Guingamp. This was where it all started for Procopi, 35 years ago and now operates 24 hours a day to keep up with the growing number of orders. It is here that all the injection-moulding and extrusion takes place. It is interesting to note that Procopi is the only French company on the swimming pool market to produce its own moulds. The moulds are made in-house using the most cutting edge technology.
The Guingamp plant specialises in the manufacture of Aquareva fittings including the full range of coloured fittings, 50,000 skimmers per year, pool panels, Mti injected filters, pool Panels – and 1,240 km of slats annually for its Delta cover range. Procopi is also the only French company on the swimming pool market to injection mould its own PVC and ABS parts. The injection workshop comprises nine presses (from 62 to 1,500 metric tons), each equipped with a removal robot. Procopi is the only French company on the automated cover market to extrude the PVC slats used to manufacture the Delta range of covers thus maintaining continuity of quality from start to finish. On the way to the next factory we stopped for a crepe and cider lunch. Sitting in the conservatory with the sun shining off the sea we could have been on holiday but we had things to see and we were soon on our way to the next factory.
The Pleumeleuc plant is close to Rennes and occupies 10,000m2. This manufacturing plant specialises in Resin Transfer Moulding, the low pressure injection moulding of composites. Procopi adopted and mastered this technology, previously the
exclusive domain of the aeronautical and automobile sectors, to produce its range of RTM filters Astonishingly, an RTM filter is
produced every seven minutes.
Products manufactured at Rennes include:
• Spas (SpaFrance),
• Bobbin wound filters,
• Injection blow moulded polyethylene filters,
• Climexel heat pumps,
• Climexel dehumidifiers,
• Climexel heat exchangers,
• Swimline control panels,
• Cerland wooden pool range (Procopi has recently acquired this company)
After a very full and interesting day, we were all looking forward to discussing the day’s events over a cold beer. Again the hospitality from Procopi was second to none and the evening was finished off with a three course meal. The more energetic of the group decided to entertain the locals in the Irish Bar which was just around the corner from the hotel.
Amazingly, we all made it down to breakfast on day three – although one or two looked slightly worse for wear. After
a short journey, we were at the main Procopi warehouse just outside Rennes. Most products are dispatched from here to over
60 counties worldwide. The factory floor of this plant occupies 10,000m2 and specialises in the transformation of flexible plastics
(PVC, PE), and manufactures products such as the: • Superliner (with a full 10 year warranty)
• Mambo and Calypso bar safety covers
• Winter covers
• Bubble covers
This factory boasts three computer assisted cutting machines, 10 high frequency welding machines installed in pits and five
ultrasound and thermal welding machines. Procopi is the largest user of Renolit / Alkorplan membranes and use an exclusive
invisible beading system. After coffee it was back to Rennes town centre for lunch and some local cider in another very friendly local restaurant. Having said our goodbyes to Matthew who gave an excellent insight (including facts and figures) into the production facilities and high quality products that Procopi produce, we made our way into the shops and the old town of Rennes with its old timber buildings for some ‘shop till you drop’ time before we caught the high speed TGV back to Paris.
Paul and David negotiated the Metro very easily and we had plenty of time for a snack before we caught the Eurostar back
home. The trip was over but what a great three days we had making new friends and enjoying the culture of France.
“By visiting the factories they can see how we develop the products in the R&D office, manufacture to very high quality, test
the finished products before despatch and meet the work-force so that they can get a real feel for the company ethos,” commented Paul Jeffries.
“We have done a factory visit once before but this was the first time on Eurostar & the TGV and as it was such a success we will be repeating the same format next year. So if anyone is interested then they can go on our waiting list. “There is nothing like the manufacturing facilities which Procopi offer anywhere in the UK, so if you are offered the opportunity to visit our three large factories, you will get a real insight and a glimpse behind the scenes to see how the innovation Procopi product range are manufactured,” adds Paul. “You never know it may also give you the edge over your competitor.” Apart from spending time with some great Poolies, the highlight of the trip for me was the chance to see behind the scenes; the pride the company and its workers have for the quality manufactured products and of course the exceptional hospitality that was shown to us all.
Tel. +44 (0)1622 832800