Changes on assembly line

Motorcycle and scooter production enables Gomel Motor Repair Plant to master new markets 
By Sergey Velikhov

Two years ago, the future of the plant was in question, having been up for auction. Focusing exclusively on the repair of agricultural machinery, its market was shrinking. A year later, Belarusian private Horse-Motors — which sells motorised machinery — showed interest and, in late 2011, purchased 48 percent of the company’s shares (with a Chinese investor taking the remainder). The Gomel plant has been revived, employing over two hundred people.

Support for similar small enterprises in the Gomel Region has been announced as an economic priority. Such companies account for 30 percent of all production facilities, while employing 85 percent of workers. The Chairman of the Gomel Regional Executive Committee, Vladimir Dvornik, is convinced that further growth in salaries and raised standards of living ‘are impossible without the development of small enterprises’.

The plant is situated in the regional centre, occupying a large site, which is an evident advantage in solving production tasks and in establishing relations with our Russian neighbours. Exports of motorised machinery are likely to be oriented in this direction, so the enterprise tries to use these factors to the uttermost.

The first scooters and motorcycles have been manufactured following major modernisation. Each was assembled from start to finish initially, but this restricts production volumes. Our Chinese partners have now supplied a production line able to manufacture up to 2,000 such vehicles a month.

“We launched the line last November and are now working on tightening the technical process, polishing our production logistics,” notes the company’s chief engineer, Vitaly Babichev. “We already produce a thousand motorcycles and scooters monthly and plan to achieve our target by July: up to 15,000 vehicles by late 2013. This volume will satisfy our domestic needs, while ensuring a fully-fledged presence on the Russian market. If we don’t occupy this niche, someone else will. We now produce eight models, offering various technical and design features.”

Apart from technical improvements to production, which have raised quality, bringing certification on the Russian and Belarusian markets, staff employment and training is under focus. Young people are sought to undergo apprenticeships, with 76 new jobs available; further production plans envisage even more employment.

Sales of the new manufactures began in January and are expected to peak in March and April, through wholesale firms. At present, motorcycles and scooters account for half of all production volumes but the company is continuing to repair agro-diesel engines and wishes to extend its range of services to agrarians. “I’d like to remind everyone that our company is among the few in Belarus which repairs engines by famous Western producers — such as Detroit, Deutz and Caterpillar,” notes Mr. Babichev. “Our specialists have trained abroad, obtaining the necessary certificates. This improves the image of our plant, while enabling us to annually increase our volume of repair works.”
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