Ataro Clima is investing 10m euros in a new industrial facility near Plovdiv. According to its creators, this is the first smart factory in Bulgaria that works without people.
"We put it into operation at the beginning of 2020, but we are still far from reaching its full capacity for processing about 6,000 - 8,000 tons of sheet metal per year," the company's manager Hristo Rogachev told Capital. Ataro Clima is a family company specialising in the business of heating, ventilation and air conditioning installations. The aim of the new investment is to close the investment circle, which will guarantee high competitiveness for the next 15-20 years and reduce costs.
At the moment, for example, Ataro Clima employs 650 people, and about 200 people are employed in the production itself. In 2019, wage costs form about 25% of the value of output. When the smart factory switches to two-shift or even three-shift operation, then the labor costs in the product will be reduced to 5%.
The opening of the smart factory coincided with the extraordinary crisis that the coronavirus brought. However, the pandemic has no serious impact. The company has no staff reductions so far, but is looking for customers for its own production products, while in the trade of air conditioning systems the contraction is not so great. The new factory is not planned in response to the crisis. The management is optimistic that with the opening of the borders in the EU they will reverse the trend, as their markets are mainly there. The company has not applied for the 60/40 scheme either.
"When we clarified the concept of modernisation, we generally had two choices. One was to buy a new generation of machines that we have, that is, to renew the fleet, but without introducing new know-how. We currently have separate machines with operators for different The second way was to build a very large automated system that would work on its own after a program was set by the designer. The pros weighed heavily in favour of the smart factory. payment of labour will continue to grow and smart factory gives us the advantage of high performance, "explains Christo Rogachev.
Part of the investment is financed by a loan from Raiffeisen Bank, with a subsidy of 250,000 euros under the "Innovation and Competitiveness" program, the company invests in the training of the team that will manage the smart factory. "In addition, we invested in the purchase of a rather expensive plot of land next to our current factory and in the construction of a hall to accommodate the huge smart machine, which measures 70 meters by 30 meters," said Hristo Rogachev. In the last two years, Ataro Clima has an annual production of metal products worth about BGN 20 million, and sales revenues from all activities are between BGN 66 and 68 million.
The goal set by the company's management team is to increase the capacity of the new factory to fully enter the markets of Western Europe. With its current capacities, Ataro Klima provides production sites for construction in Bulgaria. The production needs for the local market can be met by 10-15 percent of the capacity of the new factory. The remaining 85-90 percent will be directed to Western European customers.