Bitron Group is a privately owned, multinational company and a global leader in the field of research, development and production of mechatronic components for the appliance and automotive markets.
The company was established by Giovanni Bianco in 1955 in Turin, in the North of Italy. Since the time the enterprise has expanded geographically and at the current moment it is present in a number of countries all around the world. The presence is either through an own managed manufacturing plant, a joint venture or simply a marketing and sales office. One of Bitron’s manufacturing works is located in Sosnowiec, in the industrialized Silesia region in the southern part of Poland.
Following the customers
The history of the Polish division dates back to 1998. The enterprise followed the steps of its customers, which would recognize Poland as a dynamically developing and promising market and moved there their production processes. In order to continue the long-term cooperation Bitron arrived to Poland and started to serve its customers from this country. As the company was not sure if the new location will turn to a success, at the beginning it would rent some production facilities. “The leasing” had lasted for around three years, when Bitron decided to acquire some land and start construction of its own manufacturing plant. The first product manufactured in the newly opened factory left its premises nine years ago. In 2004 the company received a license to enter the Special Economic Zone of Katowice. The administratively separate part of the Polish territory, designed first and foremost for foreign investors, offered Bitron more favourable business environment and a number of tax privileges. It accelerated the development of the company, which resulted in opening up of a new production field in 2008. Its area reaches 56 thousand square meters out of which 50 per cent serve the production purposes. Sergio Damilano, the President of the Polish unit, claims that after more than ten years of business activity in Poland the most significant point in the corporate history seems to be the very decision to arrive to Poland. – It was a plucky step, yet it allowed us to maintain our business relations with a number of the most important market players. Due to that, the start was easier for us, we did not have to search for new cooperation possibilities, we simply continued the ones that existed previously – he says.
Two markets to serve
The company is active in two different markets. The first one is appliance, the second one – automotive. The dual orientation is visible in production volume. Around 75 per cent of the products is delivered to appliance manufacturers. The remaining 25 per cent is purchased by representatives of the automotive industry. The President of Bitron Poland emphasizes that nowadays the production proportion is changing. – It is more or less 60% to 40% for the appliance market – he says. When asked about the reason of the diversification, Mr. Damilano points to extended and long-term cooperation with the customers. The Italian headquarters have been functioning according to this proportion since the establishment, so its transfer to Poland was a natural step. – We have always cooperated with a large number of producers representing the white market. We simply reacted to their requirements. It was the necessity of the market – he recalls. The list of Bitron’s main customers is impressive. In the sector of appliance it includes such giants as: Bosch, Indesit, Eudora, Whirlpool, Miele or Electrolux. In turn, cooperation with the automotive industry proceeds with such companies as: Valeo, Delphi or Denso. At this point it is worth to mention the world-wide clientele of the Bitron Group. The company has been cooperating namely with other world famous manufacturers, e.g.: Candy, Daewoo, Faber, General Electric, L.G. Electronics, Samsung, Audi, BMW, Fiat, Iveco, Lamborghini or Volvo.
Product offer – some details
The product portfolio of Bitron Poland is extended. Undoubtedly, the offer is dominated by manufactures for the appliance industry. The company delivers dishwasher components, elements for washing machines and components for heating systems.
The offer of dishwasher components includes among others such products as:
- water softeners, removing calcium and magnesium hardness in the water used by the dishwasher,
- electronic timers, for both fully integrated as well as free standing machines,
- door switches, controlling the opening and closing of dishwasher door, available with a child safety feature,
- detergent and rinse dispenser.
The components for washing machines delivered by Bitron are among others.:
- electronic timers, controlling program flow, drum movement, temperature, water level,
- door interlocks, designed for front and top loading versions,
- electromechanical timers, construction of which allows for assembly in a washing machine as well as in a dryer or a dishwasher,
- rotary switches.
At the current moment, the heating system components which can be purchased at Bitron Poland are motors for 3 way valves.
Automotive industry can stock up with such products as:
- temperature as well as humidity and temperature sensors, detecting temperature of passenger compartment for ATC systems, operating with large accuracy and low current consumption,
- HVAC motorized actuators,
- various types of HVAC control panels,
- blower switches,
- de-ice switch module,
- rear mirror control switches.
The President of Bitron Poland says that none of the product category is of particular importance to the enterprise. – We do not focus and we do not plan to focus on any of the product groups or a particular component. Our goal is to respond to the needs of the customers. If they show interest in one of our manufactures, we will deliver it to them – says Mr. Damilano. The readiness to react to customers’ needs is in fact so large that the company wants to be associated with this feature.
Development of people is development of Bitron
At the current moment, Bitron employs around one thousand people globally. Nearly 80 per cent of this figure constitute the employees of the Polish plant. The division in Sosnowiec is namely an employer to 770 people. At Bitron, the development of the company is perceived as a key to success in the future. Owing to that, all employees are encouraged to build up their professional skills. – We are more than sure that growth of our people will result in the growth of the whole enterprise. We pay much attention to the competences of the employee. It is their skills that decide how dynamically we will develop – contends the President. In fact the company is keen on helping the employees to recognize their strengths and develop them in a way which would be beneficial to both parties. Each of the employees is offered an individually designed development scheme. Its modules depend on the employee’s current position at the company, expectations for the future as well as ingrained qualifications and already possessed competences. However, the basis of the programs are: specialist trainings, benchmarking visits, conferences and exchange projects. Bitron believes as well that its human capital is its main source of innovation. Due to that, all suggestions coming from the employees are welcomed – it is them who can most easily recognize the bottlenecks of every day work and present plausible solutions. A fundamental rule at Bitron globally is internal recruitment. – In our opinion it is the best way to show the employees our appreciation and acknowledgment. We have observed also that it is a very effective motivation method – explains Mr. Damilano. So far, the human resources strategy has turned out to be an adequate one. The turnover ratio of the whole organization is at a very low level. Next to extensive development programs, another reason behind that is most probably fair compensation.
Current and future markets
At the current moment the geographical expansion plans of Bitron circulate around entering the Russian market. – It is not a plan for the nearest future though. We are aware of the market possibilities that emerge there, but what deters us is the omnipresent red tape, which lengthens all administrative and legal procedures – says Mr. Damilano. Next to that, the company does not exclude that one day it will turn its steps to the flourishing markets of China and India. Nevertheless, further growth possibilities lie in Poland. What poses a great opportunity for Bitron is one of the most recent market acquisitions. The Korean giant Samsung took over a Polish company Amica. The product offer of the latter includes among others dishwashers. Bitron hopes for cooperation, the more so that the plans of doubling Amica’s production capacity may result in a large number of orders. What may somehow influence the plans of Bitron for the nearest future is the economic crisis of 2008-2009. One of its main victims has been the automotive industry, which sales and production figures have significantly shrunk. It has found its reflection in the financial results of Bitron. Mr. Damilano claims though that the worst may still be to come. – Despite the crisis, orders form automotive companies have been arriving due to a number of institutional ventures undertaken by some governments. Once this support finishes, the suppliers may go through some harsh time. We predict that it will be no sooner that 2012 that we will come back to financial results noted in 2008 – he says. However, what will help Bitron overcome the difficulties is great experience that the enterprise gained at the beginning of its business operations in Italy. According to the President, the market of Poland is similar to the Italian one of the time – on a dynamic road to growth.
Written by Aleksandra Strojek