Bertrand Engrand

Engineering Office Manager

Tell us about your career at Abylsen.

I was trained as an Electro-mechanical engineer with an industrial systems option. In the 2000s, I joined, (somewhat by chance!) a pharmaceutical laboratory to build up an automation team during the start up of a new factory in Auvergne. I stayed with this company for 8 years, as project manager Automation and industrial IT. 
From this initial experience I gained extremely good knowledge of pharmaceutical standards and automation of industrial sites.

I then wanted to concentrate my activities on my profession which is project management for automated and IT systems in the pharmaceutical industry. My 8 years in the industry gave me the skills needed to become a consultant. 
So I joined Abylsen in 2009, following a meeting with Yoan Duquesnoy (Director of Abylsen Belgium) who gave a positive response to my requests:

  • to bring considerable expertise in consultancy to various retail customers
  • to belong to a company and play a part in its development

In 2014, after several years as a consultant in the pharmaceutical industry for Abylsen Belgium, Yoan and I launched an Engineering office business within Abylsen.

Can you explain to us what "data engineering" is all about?

Our job at Abylsen Automation Engineering Office is to carry out project management of Industrial IT and Automation groups for investment projects. We are involved from the Basic Design up to the starting-up phase of the production equipment. All this while complying with time frames, costs and planning.

We formalise a requirement expressed by a customer, then through a tender we look for external partners capable of carrying out this requirement. We carry out monitoring of Functional design and installation on site, lastly we carry out the commissioning and start up in accordance with the customer's constraints.

Our work is often carried out in collaboration with 'general' engineering offices who themselves carry out the Building and equipment part of the project. We carry out the Industrial IT and Automation part.

What led you to setting up this business? What are your objectives in the medium term?

My first driver was questioning my future: how is my job going to develop over the next few years? How to be involved more consistently with my customers? 
My second driver is the desire to create a new product, a new approach, the need to play a part in the company where I work: Abylsen.

For several years, I had already realised that 80 % of my activities could be done by a less qualified person (even if that seems conceited), and that only 20 % of the activities I carried out had significant added value. Several of my customers shared this view. So it seemed that we could have a multi-disciplinary team of people of varying seniority involved to carry out the same work. If we found several projects, we could then create a new activity for Abylsen.

The choice of being involved at a fixed price was thus natural, and represents our team's commitment in regard to a common objective:  carrying out the project. The Engineering Office's activities started in September 2013,  we then worked on 3 projects with a team of 4 people. Today we have a staff of over 15 and we are involved in several projects, some of which are strategic for our clients.

My short term objective to get the engineering office's staff up to over 20 people to reach a critical size with which we will be able to penetrate new markets more easily. In the medium term, I want to diversify our activities, in other words extend our field of involvement to other company activities, or  become involved in other sectors of activities.