Tech
Tech, Manufacturing

Specialist electronics manufacturer significantly expands Kaunas operations

June 16, 2015

Kitron Corporation, a manufacturer of specialist electronics for a range of industries, has significantly expanded its operations in Kaunas following a EUR 7.24 million investment. The new premises allow for both greater output in terms of volume and more focus on product design and development.

The new investment comes on the back of impressive results in 2014 for the Lithuanian division of the Swedish capital firm. Last year they recorded a EUR 51 million turnover, and profits are now growing at 20% annually. The company produces precision electronic components for use in the industrial, medicine and military sectors, with all of its output currently exported to Western Europe.

With demand for their produce on the up, the firm have invested heavily in their Kaunas operations, constructing a brand new, 5,000 sq. meter manufacturing and engineering services centre. Here, skilled engineers now provide a range of R&D services, including prototype development, product design supervision, component engineering and project management.

The manufacturing part of the shop floor has also been significantly expanded to 13,000 sq. meters, dramatically increasing output levels. In total, expansion of the Kaunas facility has created 60 new jobs.

Competing in the global market

The Kaunas facility counts a number of global corporations amongst its clients. These include construction equipment manufacturer Volvo Construction, aviation firm SAAB, high-speed train manufacturer Bombardier, Husqvarna, Emerson and many others. Kitron also produce electronics for the armaments industry, with its produce being used by NATO forces.

Providing dependable precision electronics for these global players requires very high quality levels. As a result, staff must be highly-skilled, well qualified and have very high levels of professionalism. For the management of Kitron, Kaunas was the ideal place to find the specialists they need.

“Our choice of Kaunas was not accidental. This city has been an industrial centre for many decades. Having a local population that is skilled and has high levels of technical training is very important to the Kitron group of companies. Currently, the number of employees in Kaunas exceeds the number of those working in Norway”, explained Peter Nilsson, CEO of the Kitron group, which has production divisions in Norway, Lithuania, Sweden, China, the USA and Germany.

Since its establishment in Kaunas two decade ago, Kitron’s Lithuanian operations have gone from strength to strength, as Mindaugas Šeštokas, managing director of Kitron Lithuania, explains. “At the beginning of operations we had just two customers. Now we work directly with more than forty, and our company is now the largest in the Kitron group.”

“We produce the ‘electronic brains’ for Husqvarna’s lawn mowing robots, and control systems for Bombardier’s high-speed trains. We also work for the medical industry, carrying out numerous orders; and in Kaunas we also produce devices intended for blood tests”, said Mr Šeštokas.

“When dealing with international companies, competitors are not just located in Lithuania or the Baltic States. Competition is global, because as corporations announce tenders, these are attended by companies from all over the world. As a result, in order to work successfully, we have to develop products and services that create added value. We have to cooperate technically with our clients to create the products they need”, said Mr Šeštokas.

Components for the armaments industry

Kitron’s Kaunas division does not only specialise in industrial electronics; it also produces mechanisms used in the munitions and armaments industry.

Mr Šeštokas could not give details on specific products due to strict confidentiality agreements, but did explain that currently military orders are not numerous, comprising around 10% of total orders.

“I can only say that the Kongsberg Corporation is one of our main customers in this area. I do apologise but I cannot disclose many details”, he explained.

Sky-high quality requirements

Kitron’s focus is on quality rather than quantity, and specialisation for a diverse range of industries is one of the firm’s main assets, as Mr Nilsson explained. “The market sectors are very different. We produce a diverse range of equipment – from automated lawn mowers to various speed meters and biometric sensors. Our products are rather complex and also expensive. As a result, we do not produce in large quantities. If 100,000 pieces of a product are made annually, that is quite a lot.”

And for Mr Šeštokas, impeccable quality is the key to success in industrial electronics, because any error could prove very costly. Should an industrial computer or controller break, the operations of an entire plant could be disrupted.

“There are also less expensive devices, which are installed in offshore oil platforms or tankers. Should a sensor measuring the level of liquid or gas pressure fail, its replacement would cost hundreds of times more than the item itself is worth”, said the manager.

Mr Nilsson believes Kitron’s Kaunas operations have developed a reputation for quality and dependability. “The products we make are particularly reliable. We produce parts for civil and military aviation as well as modern communications equipment. Consequently, the probability of errors must be minimal.”

Read full article in Lithuanian at lrytas.lt

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