News Article | May 4, 2017
Credit: This work is a derivative from Vasco da Gama Bridge by Duncan Rawlinson used under CC BY-NC 2.0 and licensed by Alejandro Dominguez-Lopez, University of Alcala, under CC BY-NC 2.0.... IMAGE: Researchers developed a faster strain-temperature sensor that features 1 million sensing points over a single 10-kilometer of standard fiber. It could be useful for monitoring the integrity of large structures... view more WASHINGTON -- Today, there is great interest in using distributed sensors to continually monitor the structural health of large structures such as dams or bridges. With 1 million sensing points, a newly developed fiber optic distributed sensor could offer significantly faster detection of structural problems than is currently available. "With fiber-based sensors, it is possible to precisely detect erosion or cracking before a dam fails, for example," said Alejandro Dominguez-Lopez from the University of Alcala (UAH) in Spain, from the research team that developed the new sensor. "Earlier detection of a problem means it might be possible to prevent it from getting worse or could provide more time for evacuation." Fiber optic distributed sensors are ideal for monitoring infrastructure because they can be used in harsh environments and in areas that lack a nearby power supply. If a single fiber is placed along the length of a bridge, for example, changes in the structure at any of the sensing points along the optical fiber will cause detectable changes in the light traveling down the fiber. Although the popularity of fiber optic distributed sensors is growing, they are currently used primarily to detect leaks in oil pipes and to monitor for landslides along railroads. In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, Dominguez-Lopez and his colleagues from UAH and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) report the first fiber optic distributed sensor that can sense strain and temperature changes from 1 million sensing points over a 10-kilometer optical fiber in less than 20 minutes. Strain, which is a measure of deformation, indicates how much mechanical stress is on an object or structure. The new sensor is about 4.5 times faster than previously reported sensors with 1 million sensing points. Although there isn't a magic number, more sensing points means fewer fiber-optic units are needed to monitor an entire structure. This simplifies the overall sensing scheme and could potentially reduce costs. "Because we have such a large density of sensing points -- one per centimeter -- our optimized sensor could also be used for monitoring in applications such as avionics and aerospace, where it's important to know what is happening in every inch of a plane wing, for example," said Dominguez-Lopez. The new sensor uses an approach known as Brillouin optical time domain analysis, which requires pulsed and continuous wave laser signals to interact. The researchers discovered that the traditional method of generating the continuous signal caused distortions in the system at higher laser powers. These problems could be avoided by changing the way that laser signal was generated, allowing them to increase the laser power and hence improve the sensing performance. "The detrimental effects that we studied and corrected have been affecting the performance of commercially-available Brillouin optical time domain sensors for some time," said Dominguez-Lopez. "If manufacturers incorporate our optimization into their sensors, it could improve performance, particularly in terms of acquisition speed." Using the new approach, the researchers demonstrated that they could measure the temperature of a hot spot to within 3 degrees Celsius from the end of a 10-kilometer long fiber. The researchers are now working to make the sensor even faster by looking for ways to further reduce the acquisition time. They also want to increase the density of sensing points to more than one per centimeter, which could allow the technology to expand into completely new areas such as biomedical applications. The optical fibers could also potentially be adapted for use in textiles, where the sensors could help to monitor a person's health or screen for disease. For example, the researchers think it might possible to use the fiber optic sensors to detect temperature deviations that are present in breast cancer. For this type of application, more sensing points in a smaller area would be more important than using a particularly long fiber. "In our paper, we not only identified a major limitation of this sensing technique but also demonstrated a way to overcome that constraint," said Dominguez-Lopez. "The new sensor could enable improved structural monitoring and help move this sensing technology into exciting new research areas and applications." Optics Letters offers rapid dissemination of new results in all areas of optics with short, original, peer-reviewed communications. Optics Letters covers the latest research in optical science, including optical measurements, optical components and devices, atmospheric optics, biomedical optics, Fourier optics, integrated optics, optical processing, optoelectronics, lasers, nonlinear optics, optical storage and holography, optical coherence, polarization, quantum electronics, ultrafast optical phenomena, photonic crystals and fiber optics. Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit: osa.org.
News Article | April 17, 2017
VT MÄK, (MAK), a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), today announced that the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is using MAK’s VR-Forces simulation software to recreate the Battle of 73 Easting, a major United States victory during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, enhancing its students’ learning experience. With VR-Forces, graduate students at UAH have achieved increasingly accurate replication of the historical results. The simulations are directed by Mikel D. Petty, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Senior Scientist for M&S, Information Technology and Systems Center at UAH. “The Battle of 73 Easting is arguably the best-documented battle in U.S. history, which makes it a perfect application for both simulation analysis and historical study,” said Dr. Petty. “Then-Capt. H.R. McMaster’s Eagle Troop of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment aggressively engaged a much larger Iraqi armored force, destroying a large part of it in only twenty-three minutes. Simulation improves our ability to study the tactics of Eagle Troop and the rest of the regiment from a historical perspective, and recreating historical events in simulation provides insight into the accuracy and capabilities of the simulation.” VR-Forces is MAK’s complete simulation solution software. It is a powerful and flexible Computer Generated Forces platform that populates simulated synthetic environments with battlefield entities. Users can create scenarios full of custom, lifelike entities with specific behaviors, making it an ideal platform for training and education. The VR-Forces software also allows students to alter the parameters of the battle and compare simulation results with historical events. This year, under Dr. Petty’s guidance, his students will be investigating the change in outcome given a national scenario in which the Iraqi forces were able to use modern T-14 Russian Armata battle tanks in 1991. “This is a great application of VR-Forces,” said Dan Schimmel, President and CEO of VT MÄK. “We’re thrilled to see a famous battle simulated and analyzed by Dr. Petty and his students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.“ “MAK has been very accommodating in allowing my students to use VR-Forces for their academic projects,” said Dr. Petty. “The intuitive nature of their graphical user interface and the accuracy of their simulation results make VR-Forces an excellent technology to enhance learning for modeling and simulation students.”
News Article | May 4, 2017
"With fiber-based sensors, it is possible to precisely detect erosion or cracking before a dam fails, for example," said Alejandro Dominguez-Lopez from the University of Alcala (UAH) in Spain, from the r research team that developed the new sensor. "Earlier detection of a problem means it might be possible to prevent it from getting worse or could provide more time for evacuation." Fiber optic distributed sensors are ideal for monitoring infrastructure because they can be used in harsh environments and in areas that lack a nearby power supply. If a single fiber is placed along the length of a bridge, for example, changes in the structure at any of the sensing points along the optical fiber will cause detectable changes in the light traveling down the fiber. Although the popularity of fiber optic distributed sensors is growing, they are currently used primarily to detect leaks in oil pipes and to monitor for landslides along railroads. In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, Dominguez-Lopez and his colleagues from UAH and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) report the first fiber optic distributed sensor that can sense strain and temperature changes from 1 million sensing points over a 10-kilometer optical fiber in less than 20 minutes. Strain, which is a measure of deformation, indicates how much mechanical stress is on an object or structure. The new sensor is about 4.5 times faster than previously reported sensors with 1 million sensing points. Although there isn't a magic number, more sensing points means fewer fiber-optic units are needed to monitor an entire structure. This simplifies the overall sensing scheme and could potentially reduce costs. "Because we have such a large density of sensing points—one per centimeter—our optimized sensor could also be used for monitoring in applications such as avionics and aerospace, where it's important to know what is happening in every inch of a plane wing, for example," said Dominguez-Lopez. The new sensor uses an approach known as Brillouin optical time domain analysis, which requires pulsed and continuous wave laser signals to interact. The researchers discovered that the traditional method of generating the continuous signal caused distortions in the system at higher laser powers. These problems could be avoided by changing the way that laser signal was generated, allowing them to increase the laser power and hence improve the sensing performance. "The detrimental effects that we studied and corrected have been affecting the performance of commercially-available Brillouin optical time domain sensors for some time," said Dominguez-Lopez. "If manufacturers incorporate our optimization into their sensors, it could improve performance, particularly in terms of acquisition speed." Using the new approach, the researchers demonstrated that they could measure the temperature of a hot spot to within 3 degrees Celsius from the end of a 10-kilometer long fiber. The researchers are now working to make the sensor even faster by looking for ways to further reduce the acquisition time. They also want to increase the density of sensing points to more than one per centimeter, which could allow the technology to expand into completely new areas such as biomedical applications. The optical fibers could also potentially be adapted for use in textiles, where the sensors could help to monitor a person's health or screen for disease. For example, the researchers think it might possible to use the fiber optic sensors to detect temperature deviations that are present in breast cancer. For this type of application, more sensing points in a smaller area would be more important than using a particularly long fiber. "In our paper, we not only identified a major limitation of this sensing technique but also demonstrated a way to overcome that constraint," said Dominguez-Lopez. "The new sensor could enable improved structural monitoring and help move this sensing technology into exciting new research areas and applications." Explore further: Ultra-high-speed optical fiber sensor enables detection of structural damage in real time More information: Alejandro Dominguez-Lopez et al, Resolving 1 million sensing points in an optimized differential time-domain Brillouin sensor, Optics Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1364/OL.42.001903
News Article | February 9, 2017
This announcement includes Nordecon AS’s consolidated financial statements for the fourth quarter and twelve months of 2016 (unaudited), overview of the key events influencing the period’s financial result, outlook for the market and description of the main risks. Interim report is attached to the announcement and is also published on NASDAQ OMX Tallinn and Nordecon’s web page (http://www.nordecon.com/for-investor/financial-reports/interim-reports). Period’s investor presentation are attached to the announcement and are also published on Nordecon’s web page (http://www.nordecon.com/for-investor/investor-presentations). Nordecon Group ended 2016 with a gross profit of 10,979 thousand euros (2015: 9,031 thousand euros) and a gross margin of 6.0% (2015: 6.2%). Due to increasingly stiffer competition, the Group’s gross margin decreased slightly year on year. The margin weakened due to a sharp fall in the gross margin of the Infrastructure segment which could not be offset by a rise in the gross margin delivered by the Buildings segment. In 2016, the gross margin of the Infrastructure segment was 3.6% and that of the Buildings segment 7.5%. The respective figures for 2015 were 8.6% and 6.7%. Although we anticipated a downtrend in the margins of the Infrastructure segment already in the middle of the financial year, the result is far from satisfactory. The key reasons for the margin decline are the facts that during the winter season there is a lack of demand for the segment’s services (major earthworks, etc.) and that due to its business logic the share of the segment’s fixed costs is large. Another factor, which had an impact, was the wintry weather in November and December which caused quite a large volume of work which originally should have been completed in 2016 to be postponed to 2017. In response to continuously fierce competition (and bleaker prospects) in the infrastructure market, we decided to restructure our operations: at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 we merged Hiiu Teed OÜ, Järva Teed AS and Nordecon AS’s road maintenance and machinery division to improve the Infrastructure segment’s operating efficiency and the Group’s overall competitiveness. Administrative expenses for 2016 totalled 6,106 thousand euros. Compared with the year before, administrative expenses grew (2015: 5,026 thousand euros) but the ratio of administrative expenses to revenue was 3.3% (2015: 3.5%), remaining below the target ceiling of 4% of revenue. The rise in administrative expenses is mainly attributable to Nordecon’s expansion to the Swedish market Operating profit for the period was influenced by the write-down of other receivables by 409 thousand euros (see note 12) due to the entry into force of the final judgement on the Group’s dispute with Teede REV-2 AS over the performance of the Koidula border crossing point contract in 2010 when our then venture partner ceased to fulfil its obligations and we had to complete the contract on our own. Although in essence the outcome of the litigation which ended in June was positive for Nordecon, some of our claims were dismissed. We ended the year with an operating profit of 4,208 thousand euros (2015: 3,933 thousand euros), which is an improvement on 2015 but below the strategic target for the year. EBITDA for 2016 amounted to 6,017 thousand euros (2015: 5,769 thousand euros). Although in 2016 exchange losses recognised due to adverse movements in the euro/Ukrainian hryvnia exchange rate were smaller than a year earlier, their impact on our net profit was still noticeable. During the period, the Ukrainian currency weakened by around 8%, which meant that Group entities whose functional currency is the hryvnia had to restate their euro-denominated liabilities. Exchange losses reported in finance costs totalled 195 thousand euros (2015: 574 thousand euros). The same movements in the exchange rate increased the translation reserve in equity by 191 thousand euros (2015: 587 thousand euros) and the net effect of the exchange differences on the Group’s net assets was a loss of 4 thousand euros (2015: a gain of 13 thousand euros). Thus, the Group’s net profit amounted to 3,933 thousand euros (2015: 174 thousand euros), of which net profit attributable to owners of the parent, Nordecon AS, was 3,044 thousand euros (2015: 179 thousand euros). In 2016, our operating activities generated a net cash inflow of 7,937 thousand euros (2015: an inflow of 2,684 thousand euros). The factors which have the strongest impact on our operating cash flow are a mismatch between the settlement terms agreed with customers and subcontractors and the fact that neither public nor private sector customers are required to make advance payments while we have to make prepayments to subcontractors, materials suppliers, etc. We deal actively with equalising the settlement terms agreed with customers and suppliers, mostly through factoring. In addition to factoring accounts receivable, we have concluded a frame agreement for factoring accounts payable, which also enables our subcontractors who do not have sufficient credit standing to obtain a factoring limit from a financing institution to use our factoring facility. Investing activities produced a net cash inflow of 107 thousand euros (2015: an outflow of 220 thousand euros). The largest items were payments for property, plant and equipment and intangible assets of 173 thousand euros (2015: 501 thousand euros) and proceeds from sale of property, plant and equipment of 160 thousand euros (2015: 337 thousand euros). Dividends received amounted to 153 thousand euros (2015: 108 thousand euros). Financing activities generated a net cash outflow of 4,579 thousand euros (2015: an outflow of 4,934 thousand euros). Our financing cash flow is strongly influenced by loan and lease transactions. Proceeds from loans received amounted to 2,847 thousand euros, consisting of use of overdraft facilities and development loans (2015: 2,099 thousand euros). Loan repayments totalled 2,262 thousand euros, consisting of scheduled repayments of long-term investment and development loans (2015: 3,449 thousand euros). Investments in road construction equipment and a new asphalt concrete plant increased finance lease payments which totalled 2,478 thousand euros (2015: 1,726 thousand euros). Dividends paid amounted to 1,068 thousand euros (2015: 1,091 thousand euros) and in connection with the reduction of Nordecon AS’s share capital shareholders were distributed a total of 923 thousand euros. At 31 December 2016, the Group’s cash and cash equivalents totalled 9,786 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 6,332 thousand euros). Management’s commentary on liquidity risks is presented in the chapter Description of the main risks. In 2016, Nordecon earned around 7% of its revenue outside Estonia compared with 4% the year before. The contribution of foreign markets has increased through revenue generated in Sweden. The contribution of the Ukrainian market has remained relatively stable. Finnish revenues resulted from concrete works in the building construction segment. Geographical diversification of the revenue base is a consciously deployed strategy by which we mitigate the risks resulting from excessive reliance on a single market. However, conditions in some of our chosen foreign markets are also volatile and have a strong impact on our current results. Increasing the contribution of foreign markets is on Nordecon’s strategic agenda. Our vision of our foreign operations is described in the chapter Outlooks of the Group’s geographical markets. We strive to maintain the revenues of our operating segments (Buildings and Infrastructure) in balance as this helps disperse risks and provides better opportunities for continuing construction operations in more challenging circumstances where the operating volumes of some sub-segments may fall sharply. Nordecon’s revenue for 2016 amounted to 183,329 thousand euros, a roughly 26% increase on the 145,515 thousand euros generated in 2015. The shrinkage of the infrastructure construction market also affected our revenue structure. As anticipated, the Buildings segment improved its revenue, posting growth of around 43%, primarily thanks contracts secured in the apartment buildings and the public buildings sub-segments. The revenue of the Infrastructure segment, which was mostly earned in the road construction and maintenance sub-segment, decreased by around 13% year on year. The decline resulted from a lack of large-scale road construction projects with a reasonable estimated profit margin. In the comparative period, we had two major road construction projects which generated a substantial amount of revenue (construction package 5 of the Tartu western bypass and the Keila-Valkse section of national road no. 8 Tallinn-Paldiski, km 24.9-29.5). However, mostly thanks to a new asphalt concrete plant acquired at the beginning of the year, we were able to more than double our asphalt concrete sales. Revenue from the sale of asphalt concrete grew to 2,062 thousand euros (2015: 899 thousand euros). In 2016, the Buildings segment and the Infrastructure segment generated revenue of 134,555 thousand euros and 41,447 thousand euros respectively. The corresponding figures for 2015 were 94,341 thousand euros and 47,628 thousand euros (see note 8). Our order book has a similar structure: at the year-end 76% of contracts secured but not yet performed was attributable to the Buildings segment (2015: 72%). Nordecon’s revenue structure reflects quite fairly the overall situation in the Estonian construction market. * In the Directors’ report, the Ukrainian buildings segment and the EU buildings segment, which are disclosed separately in the financial statements as required by IFRS 8 Operating Segments, are presented as a single segment. In the Directors’ report, projects have been allocated to operating segments based on their nature (i.e., building or infrastructure construction). In the segment reporting presented in the financial statements, allocation is based on the subsidiaries’ main field of activity (as required by IFRS 8 Operating Segments). In the financial statements, the results of a subsidiary that is primarily engaged in infrastructure construction are presented in the Infrastructure segment. In the Directors’ report, the revenues of such a subsidiary are presented based on their nature. The differences between the two reports are not significant because in general Group entities specialise in specific areas except for the subsidiary Nordecon Betoon OÜ that is involved in both building and infrastructure construction. The figures for the parent company are allocated in both parts of the interim report based on the nature of the work. Compared with the year before, the revenue structure of the Buildings segment changed considerably. In 2016, the segment’s strongest revenue contributors were the apartment buildings and the public buildings sub-segments. Most of our apartment building revenue results from general contracting. In Estonia, a substantial share of our apartment building projects is located in Tallinn. In 2016, the main revenue contributors were the three phases of the Pikksilma homes in Kadriorg and the Meerhof 2.0 apartment complex at Pirita tee 20a. The contributions of foreign markets sustain growth. In Ukraine, we continued to build the Lepse residential quarter in Kiev, which is close to completion, and a residential quarter in the city of Brovary in the Kiev region. In Sweden, we were building two apartment buildings in Stockholm. The contribution of our own development projects in Tartu and Tallinn (reported in the apartment buildings sub-segment) continues to increase slowly but surely. In 2016, our development projects generated revenue of 5,216 thousand euros (2015: 4,216 thousand euros). We have completed 5 apartment buildings in the first four development phases of our Tammelinn project in Tartu and sales have been excellent. By the reporting date, only 2 completed apartments were still for sale. At the beginning of 2017, we began building phase V which comprises a four-floor apartment building with 24 apartments (www.tammelinn.ee). By the year-end, we had also sold 16 of the 20 apartments in the first three phases of our Magasini 29 development project in Tallinn, 5 of them in 2016 (www.magasini.ee). We continue to build the development’s fifth and last terraced house. In September 2016, we began building two apartment buildings with a total of 30 apartments in Hane street in Tallinn. In carrying out our development activities, we monitor potential risks in the housing development market that stem from rapid growth in the supply of new housing as well as a relative price increase with due care. The key factor which influenced the performance of the public buildings sub-segment was growth in the state’s investment in national defence. In 2016, we completed the construction of the Piusa border guard station, a barracks at the Tapa military base, and a building complex at the Ämari air base. In addition, we delivered to the customer the new building of Järveküla school. We continue the design and construction of the Lintsi warehouse complex and the reconstruction of Ugala Theatre in Viljandi. The volumes of the commercial buildings sub-segment, which used to dominate the Buildings segment for a long time, have declined considerably. We anticipated the shrinkage already at the end of 2015. In 2016, we completed and delivered on time the Veerenni office building and the retail and leisure complex Arsenali Keskus in Tallinn. We continue to build the office and retail complex Viimsi Äritare and renovate the machinery hall building of the historical Luther furniture factory and have started to build an office building at Lõõtsa 12 in Ülemiste City. Based on our order book, we expect the commercial buildings sub-segment to deliver certain revenue growth in 2017. Our industrial and warehouse facilities revenues grew year on year. Private investment in industrial and warehouse buildings increased. During the period, our largest projects were the construction of a warehouse for Riigiressursside Keskus (the state resource centre) in Tallinn, a production facility for Vecta Design in Pärnu, KEVILI South Terminal (a cereals storage and handling complex) and an extension to the Smarten warehouse. We continue to build production and warehouse facilities for Harmet at Kumna, near Tallinn. Similarly to previous years, in 2016 the main revenue source in the Infrastructure segment was road construction where we had mostly medium-sized and small projects. The largest road construction projects were the reconstruction of the Meoma-Alatskivi and the Rannamõisa-Kloogaranna road sections and the reconstruction of Majaka and Logi streets in Tallinn. Work on the latter will continue in 2017. We continue to render road maintenance services in the Järva and Hiiu counties and the Keila and Kose maintenance areas of the Harju county. Kose is a new area, where work started in February 2016. We also provided the State Forest Management Centre with forest road improvement services. We believe that road construction will remain the main revenue source in the Infrastructure segment also in 2017 but it is unlikely that the sub-segment’s revenue would grow substantially compared to 2016. The contracts secured by our environmental engineering and other engineering (utility network construction) sub-segments are small and growth of the sub-segments is unlikely. At present, there is no sign of any major hydraulic engineering projects to be announced in the specialist engineering sub-segment and demand for other complex engineering work also tends to be irregular. At 31 December 2016, the Group’s order book (backlog of contracts signed but not yet performed) stood at 131,335 thousand euros, a 4% increase year on year. Altogether, in 2016 the Group secured new contracts of 158,152 thousand euros. At the reporting date, contracts secured by the Buildings segment and the Infrastructure segment accounted for 76% and 24% of the Group’s order book respectively (31 December 2015: 72% and 28% respectively). Compared with 2015, the order book of the Buildings segment has grown by around 9%. The order book of the commercial buildings sub-segment has increased and the order book of the industrial and warehouse facilities sub-segment has decreased. The order books of the apartment buildings and the public buildings sub-segments have remained stable. The order book is the largest in the apartment buildings sub-segment where work secured but not yet performed includes not only Estonian projects but also projects secured in Ukraine and Sweden. We continue to build five apartment buildings in the city of Brovary in the Kiev region in Ukraine and two apartment buildings in Sweden. In Tallinn we continue to build the apartment buildings at Pirita tee 20a (phases I and II) and Virbi 10 and in the fourth quarter we secured a contract for the construction of phase I of an apartment complex at Sõjakooli 12. After some decline, the order book of the commercial buildings sub-segment has started to grow. During the year, we signed large-scale contracts for the construction of Viimsi Äritare, the renovation of the machinery hall building of the historical Luther furniture factory at Vana-Lõuna 39 and the construction of a commercial building in the Rotermann quarter in Tallinn. In the fourth quarter, we signed contracts for the construction of the Martens building in the centre of Pärnu and an office building at Lõõtsa 12 in Ülemiste City in Tallinn. A large share of the order book of the public buildings sub-segment is made up of the construction of a depot, armoured vehicle infrastructure, a canteen and a barracks at the Tapa military base and the reconstruction of Ugala Theatre in Viljandi. The largest project in the order book of the industrial and warehouse facilities sub-segment is the construction of production and warehouse facilities for Harmet. Compared with 2015, the order book of the Infrastructure segment has decreased by 8%. 90% of the segment’s order book is made up of work secured by the road construction and maintenance sub-segment whose order book has remained more or less stable compared with the year before. A significant project in the road construction portfolio is the contract signed for building a 2+1 road (a road with passing lanes) on the Ääsmäe-Kohatu section of the Tallinn-Pärnu-Ikla road which was secured in the fourth quarter. We continue to provide road maintenance services in four road maintenance areas: Keila, Järva, Hiiu, and Kose. According to our estimates, in 2017 the volume of public investments will not increase substantially, compared with 2016. Thus, we expect that in 2017 the revenue of the Infrastructure segment will remain more or less at the same level as in 2016 (for further information, see the Business risks section of the chapter Description of the main risks). However, in the light of the size of our order book and developments in our chosen markets, we are moderately optimistic about our business volumes in 2017. In an environment of stiff competition, we pursue the policy of avoiding unjustified risks whose realisation in the contract performance phase would probably have an adverse impact on our results. Instead, we prefer to keep costs under control and focus on projects with positive prospects. Between the reporting date (31 December 2016) and the date of release of this report, Group companies have secured additional construction contracts in the region of 9,851 thousand euros. In 2016, the Group (the parent and the subsidiaries) employed, on average, 684 people including 381 engineers and technical personnel (ETP). The number of ETP has increased year on year in connection with growth in the Estonian operations of the Buildings segment and the Group’s expansion to Sweden. The number of workers has decreased due to shrinkage in the portfolio of self-performed work. The overall level of staff has remained stable year on year. Average number of the Group’s employees (at the parent and the subsidiaries) Our personnel expenses for 2016 including all taxes totalled 20,401 thousand euros (2015: 18,248 thousand euros), a roughly 12% increase year on year. The growth in personnel expenses is attributable to the Group’s expansion to the Swedish market, selective pay-rises, and performance bonuses. The service fees of the members of the council of Nordecon AS for 2016 amounted to 138 thousand euros and associated social security charges totalled 45 thousand euros (2015: 139 thousand euros and 46 thousand euros respectively). The provision for the council members’ performance bonuses, made based on the Group’s performance indicators, amounted to 47 thousand euros and associated social security charges totalled 16 thousand euros (2015: 37 thousand euros and 12 thousand euros respectively). The service fees of the members of the board of Nordecon AS amounted to 350 thousand euros and associated social security charges totalled 116 thousand euros (2015: 322 thousand euros and 106 thousand euros respectively). The provision for the board members’ performance bonuses, made based on the Group’s performance indicators, amounted to 243 thousand euros and associated social security charges totalled 80 thousand euros (2015: 188 thousand euros and 62 thousand euros respectively). We measure the efficiency of our operating activities using the following productivity and efficiency indicators, which are based on the number of employees and personnel expenses incurred: Nominal labour productivity and labour cost efficiency increased year on year, mainly through revenue growth. The main factors which affect the Group’s business volumes and profit margins are competition in the construction market and changes in the demand for construction services. Competition continues to be stiff in all segments of the construction market and in 2017 public investment is not likely to grow substantially compared with 2016. Thus, builders’ bid prices are under strong competitive pressure while the prices of construction inputs on the whole have not changed noticeably. Even though unhealthily aggressive competition in building construction has started to recede thanks to growth in the volume of projects put out to tender, the slump in infrastructure construction is fuelling fierce competition for the limited number of contracts. Bidders increasingly include not only well-known general contractors but also former subcontractors, a trend attributable to the state and local governments’ policy to lower the qualification requirements of public procurement tenders, which sometimes results in the sacrifice of quality to the lowest possible price. We acknowledge the risks inherent in the performance of contracts concluded in an environment of stiff competition. Securing a long-term construction contract at an unreasonably low price in a situation where input prices cannot be lowered significantly and competition is tough is risky because negative developments in the economy may quickly render the contract onerous. In setting our prices in such an environment, we focus on ensuring a reasonable balance of contract performance risks and tight cost control. Demand for construction services continues to be strongly influenced by the volume of public investment, which in turn depends on the co-financing received from the EU structural funds. Total support allocated to Estonia during the current EU budget period (2014-2020) amounts to 5.9 billion euros, exceeding the figure of the previous financial framework, but the amounts earmarked for construction work are substantially smaller. In the construction sector, the allocations of the current EU budget period began to have a limited impact in the second half of 2016 only but in subsequent periods the process is expected to accelerate. In the light of the above factors, we see some opportunities for achieving year-on-year business growth in 2017: a certain improvement in our Estonian operations is increasingly supported by positive developments in our chosen foreign markets. Our action plan foresees using our resources (including some of the labour released by the Infrastructure segment) to increase the share of contracts secured from the private sector. According to its business model, Nordecon operates in all segments of the construction market. Therefore, we are somewhat better positioned than companies that operate in one narrow (and in the current market situation particularly some infrastructure) segment. Our business is also influenced by seasonal changes in weather conditions, which have the strongest impact on infrastructure construction where a lot of work is done outdoors (road and port construction, earthwork, etc.). To disperse the risk, we secure road maintenance contracts that generate year-round business. Our strategy is to counteract the seasonality of infrastructure operations with building construction that is less exposed to seasonal fluctuations. Our long-term goal is to be flexible and keep our two operating segments in relative balance (see also the chapter Performance by business line). Where possible, our entities implement appropriate technical solutions that allow working efficiently also in changeable weather conditions. To manage their daily construction risks, Group companies purchase contractors’ all risks insurance. Depending on the nature of the project and the requests of the customer, both general frame agreements and special, project-specific insurance contracts are used. In addition, as a rule, subcontractors are required to secure performance of their obligations with a bank guarantee provided to a Group company or the Group retains part of the amount due until the contract has been completed. To remedy construction deficiencies which may be detected during the warranty period, Group companies create warranty provisions based on their historical experience. At 31 December 2016, the Group’s warranty provisions (including current and non-current ones) totalled 1,212 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 1,184 thousand euros). In addition to managing the risks directly related to construction operations, in recent years we have also sought to mitigate the risks inherent in preliminary activities. In particular, we have focused on the bidding process, i.e., compliance with the procurement terms and conditions, and budgeting. The errors made in the planning stage are usually irreversible and, in a situation where the price is contractually fixed, may result in a direct financial loss. During the period, we recognised credit losses of 547 thousand euros of which 138 thousand euros resulted from the write-down of trade receivables and 409 thousand euros from the write-down of other receivables (see also the chapter Financial performance). In the comparative period, we did not incur any credit losses. The overall credit risk exposure of receivables is low because the solvency of all prospective customers is evaluated, the share of public sector customers is large and customers’ settlement behaviour is consistently monitored. The main indicator of the realisation of credit risk is settlement default that exceeds 180 days along with no activity on the part of the debtor that would confirm the intent to settle. At the reporting date, the Group’s current assets exceeded its current liabilities 1.2-fold (31 December 2015: 1.03-fold). Although the current ratio has improved compared with the previous year-end, the Group remains exposed to higher than usual liquidity risk. The key factor which influences the current ratio is the classification of the Group’s loans to its Ukrainian associates as non-current assets. Due to the strained political and economic situation in Ukraine, we believe that the Group’s Ukrainian investment properties cannot be realised in the short term. Accordingly, as at the reporting date the Group’s loans to its Ukrainian associates of 8,637 thousand euros are classified as non-current assets. For better cash flow management, we use overdraft facilities and factoring by which we counter the mismatch between the settlement terms agreed with customers and subcontractors. Under IFRS EU, borrowings have to be classified into current and non-current based on contract terms in force at the reporting date. At 31 December 2016, short-term borrowings totalled 6,297 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 15,715 thousand euros). The figure consists of overdraft liabilities of 3,591 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 11,388 thousand euros), which account for around a half of short-term borrowings, and loans which will probably be refinanced at maturity. At the reporting date, the Group’s cash and cash equivalents totalled 9,786 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 6,332 thousand euros). Our interest-bearing liabilities to banks have both fixed and floating interest rates. Finance lease liabilities have mainly floating interest rates. The base rate for most floating-rate contracts is EURIBOR. Compared with 2015, interest-bearing borrowings declined by 1,414 thousand euros. Loan and factoring liabilities decreased (by 2,472 thousand euros) while finance lease liabilities increased (by 1,058 thousand euros). The growth in finance lease liabilities is mainly attributable to the acquisition of a new asphalt concrete plant. At 31 December 2016, interest-bearing borrowings totalled 19,399 thousand euros (31 December 2015: 20,813 thousand euros). Interest expense for 2016 amounted to 681 thousand euros (2015: 770 thousand euros). The main source of interest rate risk is a possible rise in the variable component of floating interest rates (EURIBOR, EONIA or the creditor’s own base rate). In the light of the Group’s relatively heavy loan burden this would cause a significant rise in interest expense, which would have an adverse impact on profit. We mitigate the risk by pursuing a policy of entering, where possible, into fixed-rate contracts when the market interest rates are low. As regards loan products offered by banks, observance of the policy has proved difficult and most new contracts have a floating interest rate. We have entered into a derivative contract to hedge the risks resulting from changes in the interest rates of the finance lease contract underlying the acquisition of the new asphalt concrete plant. As a rule, the prices of construction contracts and subcontracts are fixed in the currency of the host country, i.e., in euros (EUR), Ukrainian hryvnias (UAH), and Swedish kronas (SEK). The hryvnia has been weakening because the political and economic environment in Ukraine continues to be strained due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia which broke out at the beginning of 2014 and at the beginning of 2015 the National Bank of Ukraine decided to discontinue determination of the national currency’s indicative exchange rate. In 2016, the hryvnia weakened against the euro by around 8%. For our Ukrainian subsidiaries, this meant additional foreign exchange losses on the translation of their euro-denominated loans into the local currency. Relevant exchange losses totalled 195 thousand euros (2015: 574 thousand euros). Exchange gains and losses on financial instruments are recognised in Finance income and Finance costs respectively. Translation of receivables and liabilities from operating activities did not give rise to any exchange gains or losses. The reciprocal receivables and liabilities of our Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian entities which are connected with the construction business and denominated in hryvnias do not give rise to exchange losses. Nor do the loans provided to the Ukrainian associates in euros give rise to exchange losses that ought to be recognised in the Group’s accounts. Due to movements in the Swedish krona/euro exchange rate in 2016, translation of operating receivables and payables resulted in an exchange gain of 18 thousand euros (2015: nil euros). The exchange gain has been recognised in Other operating income. We do not use derivatives to hedge currency risk. In Ukraine, we provide general contracting and project management services to private sector customers in the segment of building construction. Political and economic instability continues to restrict the adoption of business decisions but construction activity in Kiev and the surrounding area has not halted. In 2017, we will continue our operations in Ukraine primarily in the Kiev region. Based on our order book as at the end of 2016, we expect that in 2017 our operating volumes will remain at a level comparable to 2016. Despite the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, for Nordecon the market situation in Kiev has not deteriorated compared with a year or two ago. Hard times have reduced the number of inefficient local (construction) companies and when the economy normalises we will have considerably better prospects for increasing our operations and profitability. We assess the situation in the Ukrainian construction market regularly and critically and are ready to restructure our operations as and when necessary. Should the crisis spread to Kiev (which at the date of release of this report is highly unlikely), we can suspend our operations immediately. We continue to seek opportunities for exiting our two real estate projects which have been put on hold or signing a construction contract with a prospective new owner. In Finland, we have provided mainly subcontracting services in the concrete segment but, based on experience gained, have started preparations for expanding into the general contracting market. The local concrete work market allows competing for projects where the customer wishes to source all concrete works from one reliable partner. Our policy is to maintain a rational approach and avoid taking excessive risks. In July 2015, Nordecon Group acquired a 100% stake in SWENCN AB, a company registered in the Kingdom of Sweden, and expanded to the Swedish market where we intend to offer mainly construction of residential and non-residential buildings, particularly in central Sweden. In 2015 we signed the first contract on the construction of a five-floor apartment building in Stockholm (with a cost of around 8.4 million euros) and in 2016 another, smaller contract. In January 2017, we signed the third contract of 6.3 million euros. We will sustain efforts aimed at increasing our operations in Sweden and are currently moderately optimistic about the developments. It is not likely that we will enter the Latvian or the Lithuanian construction market in the next few years. However, we do not rule out the possibility of carrying out certain projects in Latvia through our Estonian entities, with the involvement of partners where necessary. Undertaking a project assumes that it can be performed profitably. We have suspended the operations of our Lithuanian subsidiary, Nordecon Statyba UAB, for the time being and are monitoring developments in the Lithuanian construction market. Temporary suspension of operations does not cause any major costs for us and does not change our interest to do business in the Lithuanian construction market on a project basis through a subsidiary operating in the local market. Nordecon is a group of construction companies whose core business is construction project management and general contracting in the buildings and infrastructures segment. Geographically the Group operates in Estonia, Ukraine, Finland and Sweden. The parent of the Group is Nordecon AS, a company registered and located in Tallinn, Estonia. In addition to the parent company, there are more than 10 subsidiaries in the Group. The consolidated unaudited revenue of the Group in 2016 was 183.3 million euros. Currently Nordecon Group employs close to 700 people. Since 18 May 2006 the company's shares have been quoted in the main list of the NASDAQ Tallinn Stock Exchange.
News Article | November 7, 2016
A new, green process developed by a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) professor for producing the carbon fiber that forms ablative rocket nozzles and heat shields has been awarded a patent. The new process could be of interest to NASA, which has a dwindling stockpile of cellulose rayon fiber that dates back to the late 1990s. That's when manufacturing ceased because the old process used acids and caustics that generated hazardous materials as byproducts. "This is a green process, so it is environmentally clean," says Dr. William Kaukler, an associate research professor at UAH's Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center and a NASA contractor for 35 years. "We recycle all the byproducts." Dr. Kaukler developed the new ionic process with funding from the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC). "Other people know about using ionic processes to make fibers but they are not making carbon fibers with them," Dr. Kaukler says. "The trick was to make the properties of this fiber match the properties of the North American Rayon Corp. (NARC) fiber." NARC ceased rayon production in the U.S. after it was unable financially to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations for the hazardous wastes created. To form a solid fuel rocket nozzle, layers of carbon fiber fabric made from carbonized rayon are coated with pitch and wound around a mandrel, and then heat-treated to convert the pitch to solid carbon. The resulting nozzle will be a carbon fiber reinforced-carbon composite. A single large solid rocket motor like that used for shuttle boosters can use up to 35 tons of fiber. The rocket nozzles of Army missiles are made from phenolic resin and this same carbon fiber. "This carbon fiber is not the same fiber that you'd go out and make aircraft or car parts from," says Dr. Kaukler. "This is the only way to make the carbon fiber that is suitable for rocket nozzles, is to start with cellulosic fiber." The more common carbon fiber used in structural applications is made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and, while stronger, its thermal conductivity is too high. Heat created from the rocket's burning fuel slowly burns away the interior of the nozzle in flight. "That's why you have to make the fiber out of cellulose, because it has the lowest rate of thermal conductivity of any fiber," Dr. Kaukler says. The low conductivity keeps the propellant's heat in for more propulsion efficiency and it prevents the nozzle from burning away too quickly in flight, with disastrous consequences. Scaling up the process to manufacturing dimensions could aid NASA as it moves forward with solid rocket motors in its next-generation Space Launch System, and it could prove useful for heat shields used in re-entry to Earth's atmosphere or on planetary probes designed for landing, Dr. Kaukler says. "It would be useful for any aero-entry onto a planet."
News Article | February 9, 2017
Nordeconi kontserni brutokasum 2016. aastal oli 10 979 tuhat eurot (2015: 9 031 tuhat eurot) ning brutokasumlikkus 6,0% (2015: 6,2%). Järjest tihedamaks muutuvates konkurentsitingimustes on Kontserni brutokasumlikkus võrreldes eelmise aastaga mõnevõrra vähenenud. Kasumlikkuse vähenemine tuleneb rajatiste segmendi brutomarginaali olulisest langusest, mida ei suutnud tasandada hoonete segmendi kasumlikkuse kasv. 2016. aastal oli rajatiste brutokasumlikkus 3,6% ning hoonete segmendis 7,5%, 2015. aastal vastavalt 8,6% ja 6,7%. Kuigi rajatiste segmendi marginaalide vähenemist nägi Kontserni juhtkond ette juba majandusaasta keskel, ei saa tulemusega kindlasti rahule jääda. Kasumlikkuse languse põhjuseks on eelkõige talviste oma jõududega teostatavate tööde (sh suuremahulised pinnasetööd jms) puudumine turul ning segmendi äriloogikast tulenev suur püsikulude osakaal. Lisaks avaldasid mõju novembris-detsembris valitsenud talvised ilmaolud, mille tõttu lükkus 2017. aastasse ka arvestatav maht esialgselt aruandeaastal lõppema pidanud projekte. Jätkuvalt äärmiselt tihe konkurents (ning keerulised tulevikuväljavaated) rajatiste valdkonnas tingis ka Kontsernisisese äritegevuse ümberstruktureerimise 2016. aasta lõpus ja 2017. aasta algul, kui ühendati Hiiu Teed OÜ ja Järva Teed AS ning Nordecon AS-i teehoolde- ja tehnikadivisjon, et suurendada rajatiste segmendi äritegevuse efektiivsust ja parandada Kontserni üldist konkurentsivõimet. Kontserni üldhalduskulud moodustasid 2016. aastal 6 106 tuhat eurot. Võrreldes eelmise aastaga on kulud absoluutväärtuses küll kasvanud (2015: 5 026 tuhat eurot), kuid nende osakaal müügitulust oli 3,3% (2015: 3,5%), mis on jätkuvalt alla eesmärgistatud piiri, s.o 4% müügitulust. Kulude suurenemine on olnud tingitud peamiselt Kontserni tegevuse laienemisest Rootsi. Müügitulu hajutamine erinevate geograafiliste segmentide vahel on olnud Kontserni juhtkonna poolt valitud strateegia, mille abil hajutada riske, mis tulenevad liigsest kontsentreeritusest ühele turule. Samas on majandusolud ka osadel valitud välisturgudel ebastabiilsed ning mõjutavad tuntavalt Kontserni jooksvaid tulemusi. Välisturgude osakaalu kasvatamine on Kontserni üks strateegilisi lähtekohti. Kontserni nägemust edasisest äritegevusest välisturgudel on selgitatud tegevusaruande peatükis „Väljavaated Kontserni tegutsemisturgudele“. Kontserni 2016. aasta müügitulu oli 183 329 tuhat eurot. Võrreldes eelmise perioodiga, mil vastav näitaja oli 145 515 tuhat eurot, suurenes müügitulu ligikaudu 26%. Üldist ehitusturgu mõjutav rajatiste valdkonna ehituse vähenemine avaldab mõju ka Kontserni müügitulu jaotusele. Ootuspäraselt on suurenenud hoonete segmendi müügitulud, mis on kasvanud ligikaudu 43% ning milleni on viinud peamiselt lepingute mahu kasv korterelamute ja ühiskondlike hoonete alamsegmendis. Rajatiste müügitulu, mis on valdavalt teenitud teedeehituse- ja hoolde alamsegmendis, on võrreldes eelmise aastaga vähenenud ligikaudu 13%. Vähenemise põhjuseks on suuremahuliste teedeehituse projektide, mille eeldatav kasumimarginaal oleks mõistlikul tasemel, puudumine aruandeaastal. Eelmisel aastal oli Kontsernil pooleli kaks mainimisväärset teedeehituse projekti (Tartu läänepoolse ümbersõidu 5. ehitusala ja Keilas Riigimaantee nr 8 Tallinn – Paldiski km 24,9 – 29,5 Keila - Valkse lõik), mille panus müügitulusse oli oluline. Samas on Kontsern suutnud, eelkõige tänu aasta algul soetatud uuele asfaltbetoonitehasele, rohkem kui kahekordselt suurendada toodetava asfaltbetooni müüki. 2016. aastal moodustab müügitulu asfaltbetooni müügist kokku 2 062 tuhat eurot (2015: 899 tuhat eurot). Tegevussegmentide vaheline jaotus tegevusaruandes tugineb projektide liigitamisele lähtuvalt nende sisust (st hoonete või rajatiste valdkond). Raamatupidamisaruande segmendiaruandes on hoonete ja rajatiste valdkondade vaheline jaotus tehtud tütarettevõtete põhilise tegevusvaldkonna järgi (IFRS 8 „Tegevussegmendid“ nõudeid järgides). Tütarettevõte, kelle põhitegevus toimub rajatiste segmendis, on raamatupidamisaruandes kajastatud vastavas segmendis. Tegevusaruandes on tütarettevõtte poolt tehtud tööd kajastatud vastavalt nende sisule. Erinevused kahe aruande vahel ei ole olulised, kuna Kontserni ettevõtted on spetsialiseerunud pigem konkreetsetele valdkondadele, v.a tütarettevõte Nordecon Betoon OÜ, kelle tegevus jaguneb hoonete ja rajatiste segmendi vahel. Emaettevõtte näitajad on mõlemas aruandes jagatud lähtuvalt tööde sisust. Küll aeglaselt, kuid jätkuvalt, suureneb Kontserni omaarenduste osakaal (kajastub korterelamute segmendis) nii Tartus kui ka Tallinnas. 2016. aasta omaarenduste müügitulu moodustas kokku 5 216 tuhat eurot (2015: 4 216 tuhat eurot). Tartus, Tammelinnas, on nelja esimese arendusetapi käigus valminud 5 kortermaja, mille müük on olnud väga edukas. Majandusaasta lõpu seisuga on müümata vaid 2 valminud korterit. 2017. aasta algul alustati V etapi, 24 korteriga neljakorruselise korterelamu, ehitusega (www.tammelinn.ee). Tallinnas, Magasini 29 arendusprojekti (www.magasini.ee) kolme esimese etapi 20 korterist on müüdud seisuga 31.12.2016 16, sellest 5 aruandeaastal. Lõppjärgus on viienda, viimase, ridaelamu ehitus. 2016. aasta septembris algas Tallinnas Hane tänaval kahe, kokku 30 korteriga, korterelamu ehitus. Arendades jätkuvalt oma kinnisvara jälgib Kontsern tähelepanelikult võimalikke riske elamuarenduse turul seoses hüppeliselt suurenenud müügipakkumiste, aga ka suhtelise hinnatõusuga. Nii keskkonnaehituse kui ka välisvõrkude (muud rajatised koosseisus) alamsegmendi sõlmitud lepingud on väiksemahulised ning alamsegmendi kasv on vähetõenäoline. Insenerehituse alamsegmendis ei ole aruande kirjutamise hetkel näha tellijate poolt tehtavaid vesiehitusega seotud suuremaid investeeringuid. Samuti on keerulisemate insenerehituslike tööde lisandumine pigem ebaregulaarne. Hoonete segmendi teostamata tööde portfell on võrreldes eelmise aastaga suurenenud ligikaudu 9%. Mahtude suurenemine on toimunud ärihoonete alamsegmentis ning vähenenud on tööstus- ja laohoonete alamsegmendi teostamata tööde lepingute maht. Korterelamute ja ühiskondlike hoonete alamsegmentides on teostamata tööde portfell jäänud samale tasemele võrreldes 2015. aasta lõpu seisuga. Suurim teostamata tööde portfell on Kontsernil korterelamute alamsegmendis, mida lisaks Eestis sõlmitud lepingutele toetab Kontserni ettevõtete tegevus Ukrainas ja Rootsis. Ukrainas jätkub Kiievi oblastis Brovary linnas viie ning Rootsis kahe kortermaja ehitus. Tallinnas jätkub Pirita tee 20a I ja II etapi ning Virbi 10 kortermajade ehitus, millele lisandus IV kvartalis Sõjakooli 12 I etapp. Pärast mõningast mahtude vähenemist on teostamata tööde maht suurenenud ärihoonete alamsegmendis. Kontsern sõlmis aruande aastal suuremahulised lepingud Viimsi Äritare, Tallinnas Vana-Lõuna tn 39 asuva ajaloolise Lutheri masinasaali renoveerimiseks ning ärihoone ehitamiseks Rotermanni kvartalis. IV kvartalis sõlmiti lepingud Pärnu kesklinna Martensi maja ja Tallinna Ülemist Citysse Lõõtsa 12 büroohoone ehitamiseks. Ühiskondlike hoonete teostamata tööde portfellist moodustavad olulise osa Tapa kaitseväelinnaku depoo ning soomusmanöövervõime taristu, söökla ja kasarmu ehitus ning Viljandis Ugala teatri rekonstrueerimine. Tööstuse ja laohoonete segmendis on olulisem Harmeti tootmis- ja laopindade ehitamine. Tuginedes teostamata tööde portfelli seisule ning arvestades teadaolevaid arenguid valitud turgudel, on Kontserni juhtkond 2017. aasta tegevusmahtude osas mõõdukalt optimistlik. Kontserni juhtkond on äärmiselt tihedas konkurentsiolukorras vältinud põhjendamata riskide võtmist, mis võiksid lepingute täitmisel suure tõenäosusega realiseeruda ettevõttele negatiivselt. Eelistatult hoitakse kulud jätkuvalt kontrolli all ning keskendutakse projektidele, millel on positiivne perspektiiv. 2016. aastal töötas Kontserni emaettevõttes ja tütarettevõtetes kokku keskmiselt 684 inimest, kellest insenertehniline personal (ITP) moodustas 381 inimest. Võrreldes eelmise majandusaastaga on suurenenud insenertehniline personal, põhjuseks hoonete segmendi tegevusmahtude kasv Eestis ning Kontserni tegevuse laienemine Rootsi. Oma jõududega teostavate tööde portfelli mahu vähenemine on tinginud tööliste arvu vähenemise. Töötajate arv kokku on Kontsernis võrreldes eelmise majandusaastaga jäänud samale tasemele. Konkurents on kõikides segmentides jätkuvalt väga tugev. 2017. aastal ei ole ette näha hüppelist avalike investeeringute kasvu võrreldes 2016. aastaga. Konkurentsist tulenev hinnasurve ehituse pakkumishindadele on selgelt tuntav, samas toimub see jätkuvalt olukorras, kus ehitussisendite hinnad summaarselt ei ole märgatavalt muutunud. Kui ebatervelt tihe konkurents hoonete ehituses on seoses pakkumiste kasvuga taandumas, siis mahtude madalseisus rajatiste segmendis käib äärmiselt terav võitlus väheste lepingute pärast. Lisaks teada ja tuntud peatöövõtjatele sekkuvad üha enam ka senised alltöövõtjad, seda tingituna eelkõige riiklike ja omavalitsuse tellijate jätkuvast poliitikast langetada riigihangetel kvalifitseerumise nõudeid, tuues nii kohati kvaliteedi ohvriks odavaimale hinnale. Kontsern teadvustab riske, mis kaasnevad tihedas konkurentsis sõlmitud lepingute teostamisega. Olukorras, kus pole võimalik sisendhindu oluliselt langetada ning valitseb tihe konkurents, on pikaajaliste ehituslepingute sõlmimine ebamõistlikult madala hinnaga riskantne, kuna negatiivsete muutuste korral majanduses võivad need kujuneda kiiresti kahjumlikeks. Kontsern seab sellistes tingimustes ehitusteenuse hinnakujundusel tähtsale kohale lepingu täitmisega kaasnevate riskide mõistliku tasakaalu ja range kulude kontrolli. Ehitusteenuse nõudluse suurimaks mõjutajaks on jätkuvalt avaliku sektori investeeringute maht, mis on omakorda sõltuvuses EL struktuurifondidest saadavast kaasrahastamisest. 2014. aastal alanud EL eelarveperioodil (2014-2020) eraldatakse Eestile toetusi 5,9 miljardit eurot, mis ületab eelmise eelarveperioodi toetuste mahtu, kuid samas on ehitusse suunatav toetuse osakaal tunduvalt väiksem. Eelmainitu mõju ehitussektorile hakkas väheselt määral avalduma 2016. aasta II poolaastal ning usutavasti protsess kiireneb järgnevatel perioodidel. Samuti mõjutab äritegevust eelkõige aastaaegadest tingitud ehitustegevuse sesoonsus, mis avaldab enim mõju rajatiste ehitamisele välitingimustes (teed, sadamad, pinnasetööd jms). Valdkonna tegevuse hajutamiseks on Kontsern muuhulgas sõlminud teehoolduslepinguid, kus on aastaringne hooldamiskohustus. Kontserni äritegevuse strateegilise ülesehituse kohaselt aitab rajatiste valdkonna hooajalisust kompenseerida hoonete valdkond, kus nimetatud mõjud on väiksemad. Sellest lähtuvalt on Kontserni pikaajaline eesmärk hoida kahte valdkonda paindlikult suhtelises tasakaalus (vt ka tegevusaruande peatükk „Äritegevus tegevusvaldkondade lõikes“). Samuti kasutavad Kontserni ettevõtted jätkuvalt võimalusel erinevaid tehnilisi lahendusi, mis lubaksid töötada tõhusamalt ka muutuvates ilmastikutingimustes. Lisaks otseselt ehitustegevusega seotud riskidele on Kontsern viimasel paaril aastal pööranud teravdatud tähelepanu tegevusriskidele ajal, mis eelneb ehitustegevusele. Eelkõige puudutab see pakkumistegevust, sh pakkumustingimustele vastamist ning pakkumiseelarvete koostamist. Planeerimisstaadiumis tehtud vigade mõju on üldjuhul tagasipööramatu ning toob turuolukorras, kus ehituslepingute hinnad tellijatega on fikseeritud, kaasa reaalse rahalise kahju. Kontserni intressikandvad võlakohustused pankade ees on nii fikseeritud kui ka ujuvate intressimääradega. Kapitalirendi lepingud on valdavalt ujuva intressimääraga. Ujuva intressimäära baasiks on enamiku lepingute puhul Euribor. Kontserni intressikandvad võlakohustused on eelmise aasta sama perioodiga võrreldes vähenenud 1 414 tuhat eurot. Vähenenud on laenu- ja faktooringkohustus (2 472 tuhat eurot) ning suurenenud kapitalirendikohustused (1 058 tuhat eurot). Kapitalirendikohustuse suurenemist mõjutab eelkõige uue asfaltbetoonitehase soetamine. Seisuga 31.12.2016 oli Kontsernil intressikandvaid kohustusi summas 19 399 tuhat eurot (31.12.2015: 20 813 tuhat eurot). Intressikulud olid 2016. aastal 681 tuhat eurot (2015: 770 tuhat eurot). Kontserni intressirisk väljendub eelkõige ujuvintresside baasmäärade võimalikus tõusus (EURIBOR, EONIA või laenuandja enda poolt arvutatav baasmäär), millega kaasneks Kontserni suhteliselt suure laenukoormuse juures intressikulude märgatav suurenemine koos negatiivse mõjuga kasumile. Riski maandamiseks on Kontsern lähtunud põhimõttest, et madalate turuintresside korral sõlmitakse lepingud võimalusel fikseeritud intressimääraga, kuid see on pankade poolt pakutud laenutoodete osas osutunud keeruliseks. Seega on uued lepingud sõlmitud enamjaolt ujuvate intressimääradega. Kontsern on sõlminud tuletistehingu lepingu, et juhtida eelpool nimetatud ostetud asfaltbetoonitehase kapitalirendilepingu intressimäärade muutumisega seotud riske. 2014. aasta algul Ukraina ja Venemaa vahel puhkenud erimeelsuste tõttu pingestunud Ukraina poliitiline ja majanduslik keskkond ning 2015. aasta algul Ukraina keskpanga poolt indikatiivse valuutakursi määramise lõpetamine on tinginud UAH kursi jätkuva languse ka 2016. aastal. Käesoleval aastal on UAH nõrgenenud euro vastu ligikaudu 8%. Kontserni Ukrainas asuvatele tütarettevõtetele tähendas see eurodes saadud laenude ümberhindamist kohalikku valuutasse ning sealt tekkivaid täiendavaid kursikahjumeid summas 195 tuhat eurot (2015: 574 tuhat eurot). Finantsinstrumentidega seotud kursikasumid ja -kahjumid kajastuvad koondkasumiaruande kirjetel „finantstulud“ ja „finantskulud“. Põhitegevusega seotud nõuete ja kohustuste ümberhindamisest valuutakursi kasumit või kahjumit ei saadud. Kontsern tegutseb Ukrainas eratellijatele suunatud ehituse peatöövõtu ja projektijuhtimisega hoonete valdkonnas. Ebastabiilne poliitiline ja majanduslik olukord piirab jätkuvalt äritegevuseks vajalike otsuste vastuvõtmist, kuid ehitustegevus Kiievis ja tema lähiümbruses ei ole peatunud. Kontserni äritegevus Ukrainas 2017. aastal jätkub eelkõige Kiievi regioonis. 2016. aasta lõpu seisuga teostamata tööde portfelli mahule tuginedes jääb Kontserni juhtkonna hinnangul 2017. aasta tegevusmaht võrreldavale tasemele 2016. aastaga. Vaatamata sõjalisele konfliktile Ida-Ukrainas ei ole turuolukord Kiievis Kontserni jaoks halvenenud võrreldes aasta või paari taguse ajaga. Rasked olud on vähendanud märgatavalt kohalike ebaefektiivsete (ehitus) ettevõtete arvu ning normaalse majanduse taastudes tulevikus on Kontsernil tunduvalt paremad väljavaated mahtude ja ka kasumlikkuse kasvatamiseks. Kontserni juhtkond hindab regulaarselt ja kriitiliselt kohaliku ehitusturu seisu ning restruktureerib vajadusel vastavalt ka Ukraina äritegevusega seotud tegevust. Kriisi laienedes Kiievisse (milline tõenäosus on aruande koostamise ajal äärmiselt kaheldav) ollakse valmis ka tegevuse koheseks peatamiseks. Kontsern jätkab võimaluste otsimist kahest konserveeritud kinnisvaraprojektist väljumiseks lõplikult või ehituslepingu sõlmimiseks võimaliku uue omanikuga. Kontserni tegevus Soome turul on keskendunud seni peamiselt betoonitööde alltöövõtule, kuid möödunud aastate kogemusele tuginedes on Kontsern alustamas ettevalmistustöödega, laiendamaks tegevust ka peatöövõtuturule. Kohalik betoonitööde töövõtuturg võimaldab konkureerida valitud projektides, kus tellijale on tähtis saada kõik betoonitööd ühe kindla taustaga ettevõtte käest. Kontsern tegutseb Soomes siiski tasakaalukalt ja püüdes vältida ülemääraseid riske. Nordeconi kontsern hõlmab ettevõtteid, mis on keskendunud hoonete ja rajatiste ehitamise projektijuhtimisele ja peatöövõtule. Geograafiliselt tegutsevad kontserni ettevõtted Eestis, Ukrainas, Soomes ja Rootsis. Kontserni emaettevõte Nordecon AS on registreeritud ja asub Tallinnas, Eestis. Kontserni kuulub lisaks emaettevõttele üle 10 tütarettevõtte. Kontserni 2016. aasta konsolideeritud auditeerimata müügitulu oli 183,3 miljonit eurot. Nordeconi kontsern annab hetkel tööd ligi 700 inimesele. Alates 18.05.2006 on emaettevõtte aktsiad noteeritud NASDAQ Tallinna Börsi põhinimekirjas.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Burisma Group, Ukraine's largest independent gas company, has announced on Tuesday at the Ukrainian Energy Forum a $100m USD investment to develop gas projects in Ukraine, a major step in helping Ukraine achieve energy independence. Burisma Group announced its 2017 corporate "billion" program according to which the Group is going to reach over 1 bcm of gas production levels, increase investments in development of gas fields, drill and bring into operation new wells worth more than UAH 3 billion ($100m USD) and pay 2 billion UAH of taxes to the budgets of all levels. At the same time, over the last two years alone, Burisma Group paid around UAH 6 billion to the State budget of Ukraine. Thanks to the investment program, the Group is going to drill 20 new wells where 3 out of every 4 would be more than 5000 m deep and have complex profiles. Burisma Group is the headliner at this week's Ukrainian Energy Forum, Ukraine's largest annual energy conference organized by Adam Smith Conferences. Since 1992, Adam Smith Conferences have been organizing highly professional economic forums that bring together thousands of state and business leaders in Ukraine. The topic of the VIII Ukrainian Energy Forum is "Raising domestic output, diversity and security of supply through reform, transparency and modernization". Key Forum speakers include the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Kistion, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ostap Semerak, the acting Head of the Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Security of the Verkhovna Rada Alexander Dombrovskyi, Advisor to the Board of Directors and Director for International Cooperation and Strategic Development of Burisma Group Vadym Pozharskyi, the Director of the Energy Community Secretariat Janez Kopač and others. "It is symbolic that Burisma led the discussions on energy efficiency and supported the State's new policy of reforming the national energy market, as well as promoting Ukraine's European integration. Burisma Group has always encouraged government and market players to reform the Ukrainian gas market based on European best practices. It is crucial that market players, infrastructure investors and Ukraine's international partners see our country as a reliable partner. Burisma is committed to ensuring Ukraine's energy security", noted Vadym Pozharskyi. According to the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Kistion, today it is of major importance for Ukraine to be an energy independent country. The Forum participants also focused on diversification of energy sources. Janez Kopač called for the further improvement of legal framework regulating the Ukrainian energy market. In his speech, Vadym Pozharskyi shared success stories of cooperation between government and businesses in other countries on the implementation of an energy independence strategy. "The energy sector remains a key source of revenues for the Ukrainian budget. Gas companies not only provide the country with domestic gas, but also continue to invest billions in production and introduce state-of-the-art exploration and drilling technologies. We are going to stay committed to this strategy", noted Vadym Pozharskyi. Burisma Group is an independent oil and gas company operating in Ukraine. Since its launch in 2002, the Company has rapidly become one of the largest independent gas producers in the country. Burisma has been engaged in oil and gas exploration and production for more than 10 years. The core business is located in Ukraine, where the Group is the largest independent natural gas producer. Burisma is a market leader with annualized natural gas production circa 1,1 BCM and over 30% market share. Burisma is seeking for opportunities to expand its portfolio to other countries. Burisma has a state-of-the-art equipment and many years of experience to provide best services for oil and gas companies around the world. For more information, please visit http://burisma.com/en/
News Article | November 30, 2016
The Fast Neutron Spectrometer (FNS) is now aboard the International Space Station. Neutrons contribute to crew radiation exposure and must be measured to assess exposure levels. The FNS, developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Johnson Space Center (JSC), uses a new instrument design that can significantly improve the reliability of identifying neutrons in the mixed radiation field found in deep space. The MSFC principle investigator and team lead is Mark Christl. The NASA JSC project manager is Catherine Mcleod and the technical lead is Eddie Semones at NASA JSC. "Our technique improves upon the well-establish 'capture-gated' method that uses boron-10 loaded plastic scintillators to measure the energy of fast neutrons," says Evgeny Kuznetsov, a research engineer at UAH's Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR), who with CSPAR research scientist John Watts worked on the device. "The central element of FNS is a custom composite scintillator combined with specialized electronics that work together to separate clearly the signals due to neutrons from the signals due to other forms of radiation." The FNS is deployed on the ISS for six months to conduct a technology demonstration to evaluate its performance in a space environment. It will then remain indefinitely to fulfill secondary objectives. "The FNS central detector was manufactured in the lab at NSSTC and comprises a structure of 5,000 regularly spaced neutron sensitive Li6-doped scintillating glass fibers cast in a one-liter plastic scintillator," says Kuznetsov. In combination with specially adjusted parameters of readout electronics, the design allows the detector to measure the neutron spectrum in a mixed radiation environment. "The scintillation light produced in these two scintillators is distinct, and we exploit this difference to better understand the signals generated in response to neutrons," says Watts. "The plastic scintillator responds to the neutron losing all of its energy, and the glass fibers provide positive identification that a neutron was captured. This sequence of signals produces a trigger in the electronics, and the data is recorded for analysis." At UAH, Watts did simulations of the detector performance and simulations of gamma rejection efficiency. Kuznetsov designed front-end electronics boards, which acquire signals from photomultiplier tubes attached at the opposite sides of the central detector. These electronics boards amplify and condition acquired signals to achieve optimal neutron detection efficiency and measurement of the energy of the registered neutrons. Kuznetsov also participated in the manufacturing of the central detector. Data acquired during FNS' flight on the ISS will be used to evaluate the performance of the neutron measurement technique as well as the capability of FNS to operate in the space environment. "This validation is critical to insure FNS can meet the radiation monitoring requirements for the deep space environment during manned exploration missions," says Kuznetsov. "The data collected by FNS will be analyzed and compared to measurements made by other techniques and with calculations of the neutron flux predicted by models of the ISS in the low Earth orbit environment."
News Article | December 14, 2016
- Oleksandr Yaroslavsky forma un consorcio internacional para adquirir la planta portuaria de Odesa y propone a Rothschild&Co Bank como consultor El reconocido empresario ucraniano Oleksandr Yaroslavsky ha empezado a formar un consorcio internacional para adquirir Odesa Port Plant PSC (OPP). A pesar de que la oferta de vender el bloque de acciones de OPP prevista para el 14 de diciembre no tuvo lugar, el grupo DCH, perteneciente a Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, confirma que está interesado en adquirir el activo. Y considera que un consorcio internacional será la forma legal e institucional más adecuada para hacer esto. Actualmente estamos negociando con otras empresas interesadas, grandes bancos extranjeros entre ellas. Principalmente, nos gustaría proponer a Rothschild&Co Bank que sea nuestro consultor para formar un consorcio internacional para adquirir OPP; estamos negociando el papel de consultor del Banco. Se sabe que la oferta de privatización de OPP tenía que haberse realizado el 14 de diciembre, siendo el precio de inicio de 5.160 millones de UAH. Sin embargo, no tuvo lugar ya que ninguno de los pujantes presentó su solicitud a tiempo. El 6 de diciembre, el grupo DCH emitió una declaración explicando por qué se habían retirado de la oferta, siendo alguno de los motivos el creciente volumen de cuentas de OPP pagaderas, el examen de la empresa garantizado por el Comité Antimonopolio de Ucrania así como los procedimientos de cumplimiento activos. Al mismo tiempo, DCH confirma que estaban interesados en la adquisición de OPP. Oleksandr Yaroslavsky es uno de los empresarios ucranianos más exitosos y conocidos (№ 8 en el Ranking de Ucranianos Más Ricos de la edición ucraniana de Forbes 2016). Es el fundador y propietario de uno de los grupos empresariales clave del país, que tiene un largo historial de 20 años: Antes de 2007 - "Ukrsib", desde 2007 - DCH. El grupo incorpora compañías de sectores de economía como finanzas, industria, desarrollo, transporte, etc. En 2005-2012, Yaroslavsky fue presidente del Metalist Football Club (bajo su liderazgo el club fue varias veces ganador del campeonato nacional y jugó en la Liga de Europa), es presidente del Olymp Rugby Club (doce veces ganador del campeonato ucraniano). Fue inversor general de la preparación de Kharkiv para la Euro-2012: La inversion social de Oleksandr Yaroslavsky para preparar a Kharkiv para el torneo ascendió a más de 300 millones de dólares en total.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Gavin has already discussed John Christy’s misleading graph earlier in 2016, however, since the end of 2016, there has been a surge in interest in this graph in Norway amongst people who try to diminish the role of anthropogenic global warming. I think this graph is warranted some extra comments in addition to Gavin’s points because it is flawed on more counts beyond those that he has already discussed. In fact, those using this graph to judge climate models reveal an elementary lack of understanding of climate data. Different types of numbers The upper left panel in Fig. 1 shows that Christy compared the average of 102 climate model simulations with temperature from satellite measurements (average of three different analyses) and weather balloons (average of two analyses). This is a flawed comparison because it compares a statistical parameter with a variable. A parameter, such as the mean (also referred to as the ‘average’) and the standard deviation, describe the statistical distribution of a given variable. However, such parameters are not equivalent to the variable they describe. The comparison between the average of model runs and observations is surprising, because it is clearly incorrect from elementary statistics (This is similar statistics-confusion as the flaw found in the Douglass et al. (2007)). I can illustrate this with an example: Fig. 2 shows 108 different model simulations of the global mean temperature (from the CMIP5 experiment). The thick black line shows the average of all the model runs (the ‘multi-model ensemble’). None of the individual runs (coloured thin curves) match the mean (thick black curve), and if I were to use the same logic as Christy, I could incorrectly claim that the average is inconsistent with the individual runs because of their different characters. But the average is based on all these individual runs. Hence, this type of logic is obviously flawed. To be fair, the observations shown in Cristy’s graph were also based on averages, although of a small set of analyses. This does not improve the case because all the satellite data are based on the same measurements and only differ in terms of synthesis and choices made in the analyses (they are highly correlated, as we will see later on). By the way, one of the curves shown in Fig. 2 is observations. Can you see which? Eyeballing such curves, however, is not the proper way to compare different data, and there are numerous statistical tests to do so properly. Different physical aspects Christy compared temperatures estimated for the troposphere (satellites and balloons) temperature computed by global climate models. Th is is a fact because th e data portal where he obtained the model results was the KNMI ClimateExplorer. ClimateExplorer does not hold upper air temperature stored as 3D-fields (I checked this with Geert Jan van der Oldenborgh)(correction: ‘taz’ is zonally integrated temperature as a function of height but does not take into account the differences between land and sea. Nevertheless, this variable still does not really correspond closely with those measured from satellites) A proper comparison between the satellite temperature and the model results needs to estimate a weighted average of the temperature over the troposphere and lower stratosphere with an appropriate altitude-dependent weighting. The difference between the near-surface and tropospheric temperature matters as the stratosphere has cooled in contrast to the warming surface. Temperature from satellites are also model results It is fair to compare the satellite record with model results to explore uncertainties, but the satellite data is not the ground truth and cannot be used to invalidate the models. The microwave sounding unit (MSU), the instrument used to measure the temperature, measures light in certain wavelength bands emitted by oxygen molecules. An algorithm is then used to compute the air temperature consistent with the measured irradiance. This algorithm is a model based on the same physics as the models which predict that higher concentrations of CO result in higher surface temperatures. I wonder if Christy sees the irony in his use of satellite temperatures to dispute the effect of CO on the global mean temperature. It is nevertheless reassuring to see a good match between the balloon and satellite data, which suggests that the representation of the physics in both the satellite retrieval algorithm and the climate models are more or less correct. How to compare the models with observations The two graphs (courtesy of Gavin) below show comparisons between tropospheric mean temperatures (TMT) that are comparable to the satellite data and include confidence interval for the ensemble rather than just the ensemble mean. This type of comparisons is more consistent with standard statistical tests such as the students t-test. The graphs also show several satellite-based analyses: the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS; different versions), University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH; Different versions), and NOAA (STAR). All these curves are so similar (highly correlated) that taking the average doesn’t make much difference. According to Fig. 3, the tropospheric temperature simulated by the global climate models (from the CMIP5 experiment) increased slightly faster than the temperatures derived from the satellite measurements between 2000 and 2015, but they were not very different. The RSS temperatures gave the closest match with the global climate models. Fig. 4 shows a trend analysis for the 1979-2016 interval where the satellite-based temperature trends are shown with appropriate error bars. The trends from the satellite analyses and the model results overlap if the confidence limits are taken into consideration. The story behind the upper tropospheric warming The biggest weight of the troposphere temperature trends come from the tropics because it accounts for the largest volume (half of the Earth’s surface area lies between 30°S and 30°N due to its geometric shape), and they are therefore sensitive to conditions around the equator. This is also where large-scale convection takes place that produce bands of high clouds (the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone – ITCZ). Cloud formation through convection and condensation is associated with release of latent heat and influences the temperatures (e.g. Vecchi et al., 2006). It is part of the hydrological cycle, and a slow change in the atmospheric overturning, moisture and circulation patterns is expected to have a bearing on the global tropospheric temperature trend estimates. This means that the picture is complex when it comes to the global tropospheric temperature trends because many physical processes have an influence that take place on a wide range of spatial scales. Hard evidence of misrepresentation Despite the complicated nature of tropospheric temperatures, it is an indisputable fact that Christy’s graph presents numbers with different meanings as if they were equivalent. It is really surprising to see such a basic misrepresentation in a testimony at the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. One of the most elementary parts of science is to know what the numbers really represent and how they should be interpreted.