The production facility of the Japanese Yaskawa corporation, which opened in Kočevje in April, is fully operational and working in line with the plans. According to Manfred Stern, Regional Head of Yaskawa Europe, they are pleased with the operations of the plant which already employs some 100 people.
Robot manufacturing facility worth EUR 25 million
The Yaskawa Electric Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of industrial robots in the world, opened a robot manufacturing facility worth EUR 25 million in Kočevje at the beginning of April. The plant supplements Yaskawa’s production capacities in Japan and China. It is set to employ about 200 people by 2023 and cover about four fifths of the European market’s demand for Motoman industrial robots.
The production is fully operational and robots of several sizes are produced in Kočevje.
The question is what will future production growth be like. To an extent, this will depend on the demand of the European market since the automotive industry is currently in a somewhat disadvantaged situation. The investments are not as large as in previous years. The automotive industry is one of their largest clients and if the investments in the branch were scarce for some time, Yaskawa also received fewer new orders. They also supply companies that manufacture components for trucks where the demand is still good. Furthermore, they also focus on growing in other branches. Yaskawa already sells the majority of its robots in industries other than the automotive one.
- Yaskawa is responding to an increased demand in Europe and the markets of the Middle East, Africa and Russia. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
- Yaskawa chose Kočevje as its first location in Europe for the manufacture of industrial robots and thus the first Yaskawa facility of its kind outside Asia. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
- In addition, Yaskawa Slovenija also operates in Ribnica and manages sales in Slovenia and other markets of the former Yugoslavia. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
Up to 10,000 robots annually
The new facility will produce up to 10,000 robots of seven different types annually. With the new industrial robot production, Yaskawa is responding to an increased demand in Europe and the markets of the Middle East, Africa and Russia. Its objective is to localise supply chains and shorten delivery times, which will enable a faster response to the needs of the regional market and clients. In Kočevje, Yaskawa relies on the re-established railway connection with Ljubljana that will result in a better connection with the Port of Koper.
Investments in Slovenia, as well as recent ones in Germany, France and Sweden, are a strategic element of the Japanese group’s European initiative set in their global corporate objectives.
Yaskawa chose Kočevje as its first location in Europe for the manufacture of industrial robots and thus the first Yaskawa facility of its kind outside Asia.
Research and development centre
When laying the foundation stone, Yaskawa’s management said that in addition to the facility for manufacturing industrial robots, a research and development centre would also be opened to enhance and upgrade their cooperation with local faculties and institutions. In 1994, Yaskawa Electric took over the Germany-based Slovenian company Motoman Robotec, and it founded a company for robotic cell production, Yaskawa Ristro, in Ribnica near Kočevje in 1996. In addition, Yaskawa Slovenija also operates in Ribnica and manages sales in Slovenia and other markets of the former Yugoslavia. As mentioned above, Yaskawa Europe Robotics, razvoj in proizvodnja robotov, d.o.o., was founded as the new robot manufacturing facility in Kočevje.
In May 2018 facilities were set up for the production of electric motors and electronic components, employing up to 250 people. In total, Yaskawa would thus create up to 500 jobs in Kočevje.
The investment is said to amount to between EUR 20 and 30 million. In the following years, Yaskawa will need about seven hectares of additional land and the production would commence in two years’ time at the latest. Yaskawa already runs a similar production in Scotland and the Kočevje facilities will further enhance its European capacities.
The production in Slovenia is expected to meet some 75 per cent of the corporation’s market needs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Slovenia will act as the central distribution point for robots manufactured in Japan. The new facilities are to be constructed next to the Kočevje plant.
Date: 1. November 2019
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