Hi-tech collaborative robots development at Ponávka
Amtech has been a tenant at CTP’s mixed-use Ponávka business park in downtown Brno since mid-2015. The high-tech Czech company is active in the growing field of surface-mount technology (SMT) and collaborative robotics. Amtech designs, produces and distributes a range of technological equipment, robotic solutions and materials for the high-tech manufacturing, electronics, automotive, engineering and logistics industries. Amtech’s Owner and Managing Director, Radek Nekarda, tells us more about his company and their rationale for leasing a multi- purpose CTBox unit at Ponávka in Brno.
Amtech’s Owner and Managing Director, Radek Nekarda
At Ponávka our work focuses on the research and development of collaborative robots, AGVs [automated guided vehicles] and AMRs [autonomous mobile robots] for use in a wide range of industries. We run a demo centre on site and plan to open a training centre in May.
Based on our growth, we decided a few years ago to open our own, larger premises in Buchlovice [in the Central Moravian region], where we have more robust machinery, a production centre, and a shop floor for large-scale automation solutions. At Ponávka we focus on emerging technologies, AGVs and “cobots” [collabo-rative robots designed to work alongside human beings].
One of my personal visions for our premises at Ponávka is to establish a robot incubator, where anyone—whether a student, engineer or entrepre-neur—can try to develop their own robotics application.
We moved in four years ago from a smaller office north of Brno. We were looking for new, efficient space in Brno, and when I saw the CTBox unit at Ponávka, I knew immediately that this was the space we needed. The CTBox concept [with office, showroom and warehouse space] is ideal for us, as it allowed us to enhance our growth without having to make an initial investment in our own premises. Since move in, our turnover has increased five-fold and our headcount has quadrupled.
Location in Brno gives us access to the city’s talent pool and high added-value services. Being in Brno makes it easier for us to find business partners and enhances the image of our company.
We would consider leasing additional space in the future, as the location is attractive and the offer makes business sense. Since moving to Ponávka our company has achieved some remarkable sales results, including best-performing distributor in CEE for Universal Robots—the world’s leading “cobot” producer—and European distributor of the year for Mushasi, Japan’s leading producer of dispensing systems for the robotics industry. We also recently won top prize at the Amper trade fair here in Brno for a 3D PCB printer that we developed last year and which dramatically reduces the time from R&D to product introduction for any company that develops printed circuit boards, antennae and similar products.
Robotics and automation is certainly an industry of the future. This is especially true here in Europe, in order to maintain competitiveness on the global stage. Automation will help with labour shortages and also enables robots to do work that is unpleasant or unhealthy for human beings. Personally, I think it is a good thing, for example, that in hospitals robots can do routine tasks like preparing medicine and lab samples and transporting patients. This allows humans to do the work that no robot could do—like give comfort to patients and to care for their specific needs. This is just one example of robots helping humanity. On the other side, there are good ideas like drones, which can be misused for malicious purposes.
Personally, I feel that legislation and security is lagging behind development in the field of robotics and autonomous technologies. I think that govern-ments and the authorities should be focusing more on emerging technologies and how to regulate them. We sometimes encounter difficulties in our work to find the appropriate legal provision regulating the technology we are working on, simply because the specific provision hasn’t yet been written.
“CTP has been supporting our growth for 12 years.”
Edgewell Personal Care is a US-based consumer products company with a portfolio of 25 well-known brands including Schick and Wilkinson Sword. In 2007 the company opened a 3,000 m2 manufacturing facility for wet shaving products at CTPark Teplice and has since expanded their space to 15,000 m2, making CTPark Teplice their largest production plant in Europe. Jan Beneš, Operations Director for Edgewell in Teplice, explains more about the company’s operations.
Jan Beneš, Operations Director for Edgewell
CTP has been our partner already for 12 years, always supporting us with our needs for growth. The simple and modular facility has provided enough flexibility for all layout changes during the years. At the same time, CTP has been able to satisfy our very complex requirements. For example, we went through two environmental assessments—we had very complex requirements for things like fire safety and hygienic standards. This is also something we discussed with CTP, and we got their full support.
Teplice is the main Edgewell production plant in Europe, where we produce wet shaving prod-ucts for the whole of Europe. We have a moulding area, where we mould components, and we also have an assembly area, so in fact we are assembling the whole razor, mainly disposable, two- or three-blade razors. We are also packing the final products and shipping them to customers.
In terms of packaging operations, we are also the biggest Edgewell plant in Europe. We also manage production for private brands in Teplice, which means that we are producing products for the main retailers in Europe. In Teplice we also participate in development, mainly in the development of packaging, because in fact, packaging is what is selling
I think the situation in the last two years is probably very similar everywhere in the Czech Republic, and maybe Europe—the unem-ployment rate is going signifi-cantly down and we do have issues to attract the best employees. And of course we try to be competitive always and to offer our employees the best working conditions, a very good salary, and also we are really focused on communication. We have standards that are typical I think for US companies, so we have a very high level of commu-nication, how we behave toward our employees, and I think this creates good basics for keeping and attracting good employees at our plant.
We see trends in the current globalised market that we need to react to, for example e-com-merce. We have to react to the need for higher customisation of products for customers, and also we have to react in terms of flexibility. Our facility won’t just be a place for mass production anymore. We must develop our facility to accommodate customised production, special-ised workshops and to support the overall innovative spirit of our colleagues.
Global automotive supplier values their long-term partnership with CTP.
French-based global automotive supplier Faurecia launched operations with CTP at CTPark Mladá Boleslav in 2013.
In addition to their Czech plant, the company has expanded within the CTPark Network and currently occupies facilities at Hlohovec, Žilina and Trnava in Slovakia, as well as in Pitești in Romania. Jozef Mikuška, CEE Real Estate and Construction Commodity Manager, explains more about Faurecia’s activities and their long-term partnership with CTP.
Jozef Mikuška, CEE Real Estate and Construction Commodity Manager
Among the main beneﬁts of working with CTP is the long-term partnership. The ﬁrst development for Faurecia was Mladá Boleslav-Bezdečín in 2013, and we now have six lease contracts with CTP in three countries represent-ing nearly 100,000 m2 of production space. In all these locations I can easily manage the same conditions regarding the lease term and service charges.
And these are not just “simple” logistic buildings. We always insist that our facilities are built according to Faurecia’s standards, which is more than local legislation requires. For example, we require a special floor for production, an FM approved sprinkler system, and we have demanding specs for heating, ventilation and in some cases air conditioning for our production plants.
Our requirements differ from site to site due to the type of produc-tion. In Mladá Boleslav, Žilina and Trnava we produce exhaust systems for vehicles, so we need a fume extraction system to excavate smoke from the welding process.
In Hlohovec we produce plastic parts and we have injection moulding machines installed at the plant. For this reason we require special flooring (15 tonnes/m2) and 40-tonne cranes.
We also operate a seating division producing seats in Trnava for Group PSA, and for this activity we require especially good lighting conditions.
CTP and Faurecia first met in 2012, at the same time as I joined Faurecia. I can say that during our long-term cooperation CTP is fully aware of our needs and the building is always delivered to our high standards.
Mladá Boleslav was in my opinion the best construction project that we did together. We started in September 2012 on the 22,000 m2 facility and handover was in April 2013 without any significant issues.
After Mladá Boleslav, we met in Žilina, where CTP had bought land next to the Kia assembly plan. This was a good fit for our just-in-time delivery. Pitești was more of a challenge for both CTP and Faurecia. For CTP it was their first built-to-suit production facility in Romania.
I remember early one morning in September 2016 having a meeting with CTP CEO Remon Vos and the construction team at the site, and we went through issues causing the delays. We resolved these issues and finished the building to our satisfaction. In 2019 we started expansion of the Pitești plant and are thus far pleased with the results.
The last two transactions were CTP acquisitions where we have facilities. These were our first sale and leaseback projects with CTP.
In 2019 we are working on two plant expansions with CTP totalling 17,000 m2. In our production facilities in the CTPark Network we employ around 2,800 people in total. These plants are close to our customers so we can optimise just-in-time deliveries. Faurecia is currently undergoing growth and it is possible that we will make another expansion at an existing plant or lease new facilities, which CTP is able
“We are satisfied with our repeated decision to go with CTP.”
German aftermarket automotive parts supplier Stahlgruber chose the flexibility and efficiency of the CTBox concept to consolidate and expand its Czech activities at CTPark Plzeň and CTPark Ostrava.
Stahlgruber is an excellent example of a company utilising the CTBox concept to its full potential in multiple locations. The company is a leading European supplier of independent aftermarket automotive components, with a customer network that includes automotive workshops, distributors and corporate clients.
Following a series of acquisitions, Stahlgruber’s Czech operations were growing rapidly, and the company was looking to consolidate and streamline its activities with new, modern facilities. As part of this strategy, they chose Plzeň as the site for their first CTBox unit, based on the ability to start with smaller operations and expand quickly as their business grew.
Mirco Grübel, a Stahlgruber executive in the Czech Republic, explains; “Plzeň was our first project to build warehouses in “Stahlgruber style”.At that time we were running 29 locations in the Czech Republic, and our intention was to adapt to the strength of our German mother company. Our success in Germany, our core market, is strongly connected to the logistical structure and setup of our sales outlets. So we chose the location in Plzeň. Today, after positive experiences following the move, I could say that our Plzeň location could be twice as big.”
Stahlgruber CTBox facility in CTPark Ostrava
As a next step in their consolidation strategy, and based on the success of operations at their CTBox in Plzeň, Stahlgruber chose to consolidate its logistics and distribution activities in the Ostrava area with two CTBox units at CTPark Ostrava. “Our reasons for choosing CTPark Ostrava include its good availability and location between three formerly existing branches, which were replaced with the new location, and also our good experience with the ‘CTP model’ from Plzeň, which was important. From my point of view, Stahlgruber Ostrava is one of our most effective locations, in terms of utilisation of given space.”
Stahlgruber runs the full spectrum of logistics and delivery activities from its CTPark locations in Plzeň and Ostrava and also provides customer consultancy and training services. The three-in-one flexibility of the CTBox concept, with office, showroom and warehousing in one unit, has enabled the company to grow rapidly and adapt its space based on its current—and future—needs.
Video footage from Stahlgruber’s factory
“We are satisfied with our repeated decision to go with CTP. The CTBox concept offers a very effective utilisation of given space, with a modular structure that gives us room for development. We also value the mix of approachability, flexibility in setting up stock areas, the possibility of office space, and price. For us it was an interesting combination, and I am definitely open to further cooperation. The fact that we have been partners since 2012 is an asset for such a decision.”Test
Continental chose CTPark Ostrava for their Global R&D Centre
In 2014 German automotive components major Continental chose a CTOffice building at CTPark Ostrava as the location for their Global R&D Competence Centre.
The facility—one of Continental’s largest global R&D hubs—includes a custom-built high-tech laboratory and testing centre. The company’s work at CTPark Ostrava focuses mainly on the development of sensors and actuators for clients such as Daimler, GM, VW, FCA and many other global car manufacturers. Mojmír Šustala, Segment Managing Director, tells us more about the company’s operations and experiences since move-in.
Mojmír Šustala, Segment Managing Director Continental
Continental’s Ostrava Global
R&D Competence Centre was established at CTPark Ostrava to support the company’s growth strategy in the field of sensors and actuators for automotive ap-plications. In Ostrava we research, develop and test a wide range of devices in the area of temper-ature, fluid, pressure and mass air-flow sensing applications or contactlesss position sensors for various mechatronic modules. As a global hub, our responsibili-ties also include developing the market strategy for our product line, portfolio management, project development and the launching of new products, and providing day-to-day support for our manufacturing plants.
Since launching in Ostrava, we have proven to and gained the trust of company management—that people in the Czech Republic are very creative, capable, and competent—not only to run man-ufacturing operations, but also to develop new products and for their ability to take responsibility and a “bottom-line” approach for specific product segments.
Things have changed a lot since we launched here in Ostrava five years ago. We’ve grown our headcount from approximately 160 to 270 employees, with a plan to grow beyond 300 people by 2020.
With our growth, we have also built new competencies and know-how relating to other product segments. We’ve established a team of material engineering experts at Ostrava who focus on supporting product development globally for our Powertrain Components Business Unit. Through this, Ostrava has also become
a main hub for electronic and software engineering solutions. Last but not least, in the last two years we’ve achieved high-level accreditation for our laboratories at CTPark Ostrava, which is a very important strategic step for new product development.
All of this required and still re-quires new investment, mainly in our labs and new test equipment, but also in floor-space expansion. We recently opened a new office area at CTPark Ostrava with an additional 650 m2 of workspace, which gives us approximately 75 new working spaces. Together with CTP, we have also started a project study to potentially expand our lab space signifi-cantly with an additional 2,000 m2 greenfield investment. However, the final decision has not yet been taken.
CTPark Ostrava offers a nice working environment. The way we were able to design our office areas and labs together, the overall surroundings—our people really like and appreciate these aspects. Simply said, our space at CTPark Ostrava is a good fit for our operations. It’s in line with our corporate culture and gives us a stable base from which to grow.
As everyone knows, one of the world’s biggest topics is climate change. This means that lowering emissions and supporting a clean environment are also a main focus of the powertrain industry. Our company is of course aware of this and we are fully engaged. Our technology / drive solutions for combustion and electric vehicles cover all current and fu-ture automotive needs. Portfolio management and innovation—key functions at our global R&D Centre in Ostrava—are among our strengths and central to our focus of serving customers while making the planet a better place.
Danish logistics operator expands at CTPark Bucharest
In 2018, Danish-based DSV, the world’s fourth largest logistics operator, signed a lease for a new 40,000 m2 custom-built logistics hub at CTP’s flagship development in Romania, CTPark Bucharest West. Their expansion came after their successful experience as a tenant at CTPark Bucharest, where they continue to operate a 55,000 m2 distribution warehouse. Sergiu Iordache, DSV’s Logistics Director for Romania, explains more about DSV’s business in Romania and why they chose to expand with CTP.
Sergiu Iordache, DSV’s Logistics Director for Romania
We decided to expand here because we wanted to expand, and we consider CTP as the right part-ner for us. CTP has the capability and resources—and the communication between us is very important. Why? Because we want to have a business partner, not just a provider of services, and of course we do not want to be just another customer. We want to have strong communication, to know each other, and to grow together. This is part of our strategy, and with CTP we have found a good partner for our Romanian operations. We appreciate their ability to understand our needs and to cooperate, and of course we value their high-standard building specifications.
DSV is a logistic service provider and freight forwarding company. We have three main divisions: Air & Sea, Road, and Solutions.
“Solutions” means warehousing and also domestic distribution services for customers. At the global level, we are now among the top-four logistics providers worldwide. We are currently in 85 countries, and we are actively looking for growth, both organically and through acquisitions, where we are recently quite active.
Our roots in Romania go back to 1994. After a series of acquisitions, DSV acquired the Romanian business in 2006. Our continued growth in Romania meant that we needed more space. CTP was able to accommodate all our special requirements at CTPark Bucharest West, including climate-control throughout the entire 40,000 m2 building and a double-sized mezzanine.
We are now in the process of establishing our Romanian HQ here at CTPark Bucharest West, because of the offer of available space and CTP’s ability to cus-tom-build facilities in line with our strategy. Within two years we expect to consolidate and expand our Romanian operations here.
Most of our clients are multinational companies, as it is usual for them to outsource logistics services. Our client list includes many big names from various industries. For many of our customers we provide regional hub logistics solutions serving Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. We also operate warehouses in Bulgaria.
E-commerce is becoming a more important part of our business. Last year DSV acquired a Dutch company specialised in e-commerce, and we are begin-ning to roll-out new solutions for e-commerce throughout our portfolio.
DSV doesn’t focus on a certain industry—we want to provide a broad range of logistics solutions. The industry doesn’t matter. Our business is to provide custom-ised solutions for our customers, and we are proud of that. We don’t say: ‘This is the DSV solution, if it fits you, OK, if not, then no.’ We like to listen to our customers and provide them with what they need, and to be flexible.
“With CTP's help we have created a friendly workplace for our team.”
Madfinger Games is a group of Czech game programmers behind some of the world’s most popular mobile gaming titles. Founded in 2010 with just four employees, this fastgrowing start-up now employs over 60 people and is poised for future growth. In 2014, Madfinger moved its operations to the premium offices at Ponāvka in Brno, which serves as the company’s global HQ.
In recent years, Brno has emerged as a hotspot for the global gaming industry.
Madfinger is one of the bold young local start-ups that has grown in five years to become one of the world’s most successful independent game developers. Their first major breakthrough success came with Samurai: Way of the Warrior and Samurai II: Vengeance, which made the AppStore’s Hall of Fame after more than one million downloads. In total, the company’s games have been downloaded an outstanding 70 million times.
Madfinger co-founder, Tomáš Šlápota explains why the growing company chose Ponāvka as its global headquarters. “Today Brno offers various office parks in different areas. What mattered to us was the location within the city centre, a competitive rental price, and the possibility to adapt the layout and design of our future offices to reflect our creativity.” “CTP was helpful during our layout and design planning, and we are satisfied with our new offices. We liked our old place, but it was becoming too small for us. We now have more meeting rooms with automatic signalisation of its occupancy, we have a separate fitness room and a big relax zone with a large plasma TV and three different game consoles. We believe we have created a friendly workplace for our team.”
Madfinger may be local, but their audience is truly worldwide and can be expected to grow as more people globally use smart phones and gain access to the Internet. “We have a large fan base in the United States, where we can speak of millions of players, but we are also popular in Asia and South America.” Madfinger is already planning to expand its current office space at Ponāvka as work increases and expects to double its current number of employees within two years.
CEE’s most successful business parks, CTPark Bor is strategically located in Western Bohemia, 50 km from Plzeň’s city centre, with excellent highway connectivity and only 15 km from the German border.
CTP develops A-class city centre business parks which provide premium office space, retail stores, office services, and other amenities. Our city centre business parks are designed to create a new focal point in a city, with site-specific open parks and lush landscaping.