Export Knowhow

Glass fibre with a difference

When people think of fibre optics, they generally think of fast Internet connections. In reality, they have a considerably broader range of uses, as demonstrated by the technologies of Omnisens SA, which is based in Morges. The company is a leader in the field of fibre optic monitoring. The 32 people company was founded at ETH Lausanne in 2000. Since its inception, Omnisens has developed, manufactured, installed and maintained monitoring solutions for the oil and gas industry, wind farms, power cables and other sectors in the civil engineering industry. It also analyses the data it collects and provides training courses.

Omnisens’ solutions are used in several areas of application.

A technological challenge

Omnisens’ solutions identify leaks, earth movements and temperature variations, over a distance of up to 300 kilometres. They enable the problem to be located within minutes and ideally quickly resolved. Not only can a malfunction in a plant seriously damage its reputation, it can also result in serious consequences for the environment. With this in mind, Omnisens has continuously optimised its technologies and software over the years. It has even been issued with a guarantee from the Confederation’s Technology Fund to enable it to produce a new generation of monitoring solutions that are even more accurate.

Omnisens supplies infrastructure companies around the globe and depends on exports as 90 per cent of its turnover comes from export orders. One of these was placed by an Argentinian consulting firm. This company commissioned Omnisens to supply both the hardware and software to monitor a 30-kilometre underground water pipeline in the city of Cordoba worth USD 340 000. This solution is generally associated with the oil industry. “Using our solutions for a water pipeline in a region exposed to strong earth movements is a first for us. This makes the project a technological challenge and therefore particularly exciting,” says CFO Olivier Thévoz.

Challenging demands in the energy sector

The collaboration with the Argentinian client was new territory for Omnisens. Although the payment terms were pretty standard, the client demanded a substantial amount of securities as well as environmental and social commitments. SERV insured the transaction by means of a counter guarantee and contract bond insurance. SERV’s backing meant that Omnisens received a guarantee from its bank on favourable terms and was able to keep its liquid assets available for other orders. “We have observed a sharp rise in the collateral required in the energy sector over the last two years. This makes SERV an important partner for an SME like Omnisens,” says Olivier Thévoz.

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