Tuesday, 04 May 2010 06:36
Scania Production Słupsk S.A. is a Poland-based manufacturing plant of the world-known Swedish concern Scania – a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks, buses and coaches as well as industrial and marine engines, which operates in about 100 countries and employs more than 34,000 people. The company’s production facilities are found in Sweden, France, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina and Poland, where the Słupsk plant specializes in the production of buses for public transport and bus chassis.
Scania in the world
Scania is one of the biggest and the oldest producers of vehicles in the world with the rich tradition dating back to 1891, when the plant producing railway carriages called Vabis was found in the Swedish city Södertälje. The other root of today’s company is Maskinfabriksaktiebolaget Scania, the plant set up in Malmö to originally produce bicycles, which built its first passenger car as well as its first truck in 1902. Eventually Scania and Vabis merged in 1911 so as to meet the market demands in Europe and started the production of buses. In the 1950s Scania-Vabis commenced creating sales and service network in Europe, while in the next decade it established manufacturing facilities in several other sites in Sweden and abroad. The company decided to internationalize its operations and create plants in Argentina, Brazil, France, Netherlands and also in Poland. In addition to sales and service, Scania also offers financial services on most markets.
Choice of Słupsk
Słupsk, a city in the northern part of Poland, was chosen as a location of the Scania plant in 1992, when the concern looked for a partner to assemble trucks, as it was a necessary condition for entering the Polish market. At that time the plant of Kapena – the company which specialized in the repair of buses – was faced with a challenge to find a strategic partner. The most crucial elements for the Swedish in the choice of location were the proximity to the Baltic ports, the size of the facility as well as abilities of the staff. Moreover, Kapena had already achieved a stable position in the Polish market. As a result, after concluding a joint-venture contract, the company started reorganizing its business profile. The first Scania trucks in Poland were manufactured in June 1993, while the first buses left the assembly line in 1994. Since April 1995 the plant in Słupsk has been producing bus chassis.
In 2000 the production of trucks was curbed due to the customs regulations which were becoming less and less stringent. When the customs duty was eventually abolished, there was no more reason for assembling trucks in Poland, so the company ceased this activity in 2002. What is more, in a Dutch city, Zwolle, Scania had built an enormous production plant, capable of assembling more than 150 trucks a day. Anyway, the Słupsk plant is a unique facility, since it fulfills all the functions ranging from production, logistics, purchase, flow of materials, assembly lines operations to delivery. Although trucks remain the main Scania product, buses manufactured in Słupsk enjoy growing popularity among customers.
Popularity of the Scania buses
The bus business in Słupsk has been flourishing since the very beginning. In 1994, which was the first year of production, only 5 buses were assembled. The next year the number tripled, while in 1998 it amounted to 47. In 2009 as many as 903 buses left the assembly line, among them the 3000th one to be manufactured in the plant. The ever-growing popularity of the buses has been reflected in the sales figures – in 2003 Scania Polska S.A. sold in Poland 30 of them, while in 2008 the company broke a record, having sold 100 ones. According to market analysts, despite the economic crisis in the automotive business, in Q1 2009 Scania was recognized as the vice-leader of the Polish exports, as it had exported 222 buses, mainly to Great Britain, Sweden and Estonia. Moreover, the Słupsk plant, is the only bus manufacturer in Poland, exporting chassis and bodies to the Russian market. In Poland most of Scania buses are driven in Warsaw, Cracow, Stargard Gdański, Opole and Słupsk.
Buses with class
Scania buses and coaches are renowned for their outstanding operating economy. As stressed by Scania representatives, the buses are relatively expensive but the purchase is going to pay off in the future, since the vehicles are cheap to exploit. Each component is carefully engineered so as to heighten the performance of the vehicle and set world-class standards for fuel economy, driveability, road handling and reliability. Every model can be customised to ensure that the customer gets the best solution possible. The production process of the first buses assembled in Słupsk included welding the parts made of stainless steel and painting them at the end of the process. This strategy was followed by a revolutionary approach, consisting in using aluminum and bolting the elements, which entailed more changes in the production process. The series 5, currently manufactured in Słupsk, is available in 12-, 18-, as well as 13,7-, 14,6-, 12,7-metres versions. One can also find double-deckers, including the ones with a steering wheel on the right hand side. The production of double-deckers posed a great challenge for the engineers in Słupsk. Now, having manufactured more than 500 ones, they excel at the double-decker model. The year 2007 was an important breakthrough in the introduction of new assortment, because the plant launched new lines for the production of the intercity bus Omniline, the series 5 10,9 m, double-decker city bus, and the ethanol-powered bus. Moreover, EURO 5 engines, which set te rigorous emission standards were introduced. All Scania buses are perfected on a regular basis, which is why they stand out in the market also in terms of passenger capacity or comfort level.
Swedish philosophy which bears fruit
The source of success of the brand in Poland can be discerned in the corporate philosophy of Scania, which is steadily implemented throughout the sales and service network. Core elements of the philosophy include the focus on the customer, whose needs are prioritized at all cost, support and respect for all employees and the elimination of all possible waste. The ability to combine those elements helps to assume leadership in the industry. The company has already been granted the quality management ISO 9001 certificate and the ISO 14001 certificate, which concerns the environmental management. The certificates serve as a proof of high quality of the manufactured goods but also as a factor motivating to keep it up. When it comes to the concern for the environment, the plant takes up numerous ecological initiatives. For example, one can enumerate the costly investment in the technology purifying the air, which hasn’t translated into the increase in earnings. Scania Production Słupsk S.A. has been granted numerous awards and distinctions which attest its reliability, honesty, high quality, concern for people and the environment. The most prestigious ones are Silver Bear - Leader in Promotion of the Słupsk Economy (Srebrny Niedźwiedź - Lider Promocji Słupskiej Gospodarki), Solid Employer of Pomerania (Solidny Pracodawca Pomorza), the Business Gazelle, Clients’ Laurels, The Exceptionally Mother-Friendly Company (Firma Nieprzeciętnie Przyjazna Matkom), Solid Entrepreneur (Solidny Przedsiębiorca). Moreover, for the last four years the award committee of the economic-consumer program Solid Company (Solidna Firma) has been giving the company a certificate attesting the business reliability, which is of paramount importance for Swedes, who treat it as one of the flagship characteristics of their working culture. To emphasize that point, Scania has been taking part in the program promoting „Fair Play Companies.” As for the quality of particular Scania products, among the recent company’s trophies there is the QI (Quality International) title for the OmniCity bus. The plant takes pride of the model also because it also environmentally-friendly, which brought the company another distinction – in the contest Our Bests in Pomerania (Nasze Dobre z Pomorza). The ethanol-powered bus can be noticed in the roads of Uppsala, Stockholm, Råstad, Őstersund and many more Swedish cities, as well as in the cities of Norway, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland-Słupsk and even China, where they appeared at the end of 2008. As claimed by Vice Plant Manager, Sylwester Wojewódzki, the key to success of Scania Production Słupsk S.A. was also the teamwork philosophy, employees’ devotion to work and constant staff trainings. Since the employees constitute the strategic potential of the company, Scania is willing to repay them as much as it can. It strives to ensure the staff world-class conditions and it attaches particular significance to the health promotion activities, which additionally led to victory in the contest Pro-Health Organization. The employees have access to medical specialists and are encouraged to take up some sport or give up smoking. It all helps to ensure higher performance, efficiency and greater job satisfaction.=
Resisting the crisis
Although the economic crisis, which made Scania reduce employment, did not leave the company intact, it managed to shake off. Owing to the effective cost reduction, Scania was able to take an advantage of the situation and now the management of the company is optimistic about the future and ready to face new challenges. The plant is to be reorganized and modernized, which is aimed at doubling the production capacity to reach 2000 buses per year. Mr Wojewódzki comments on the company’s plans in the following way: “We set new trends in efficiency. The market, including the Polish one, is becoming more and more demanding. The users value reduction is the fuel consumption, long lifespan of the vehicle and its more efficient handling. We need to meet these challenges. (…) The future of the plant will be characterized by the search of new technological solutions and the use of alternative fuels. We are already preparing to introduce hybrid propelled buses. (…) Our brand will be always associated with an ecological approach to the product, high quality and recognizable stylistics.” It is also worth mentioning that in order to attract customers and strengthen the position of Scania in the Polish market, Scania Polska S.A. strives to extend the service network, so that the clients can be easily provided with assistance no matter where they are.
Written by Anna Chudzik