Future for giants
Team of Belarusian automobile plant expresses a settled intention to hold the field at the world market by means of new engineering techniques creation, development of production and distribution system
Belarusian automobile plant, located in the town of Zhodino 60 km off Minsk, is a world famous enterprise. There is no such other plant in the world which would line-assemble mine dump trucks with payload capacity ranging from 30 to 320 tons. That is the fact which stands for impressive scales of production: every third mine dump truck in the world was produced in Zhodino. Financial standing of the 10 thousandth collective is of great importance for Belarus especially during the world crisis which stroke leading countries.
“The year of 2008 was rather difficult for the enterprise; especially its last quarter,” noted Peter Parhomchik, the director general of the enterprise. Because of the financial crisis many countries- importers of BelAZ production experience certain problems with settling. Despite the fact, the year was closed successfully with a production rev of 10 per cent. The plant cleared its social obligation to the employees and veterans, honored its 60th birthday by a 130-ton truck release, thousandth 130-ton truck and other achievements. The year of 2009 is likely to be more complicated, but BelAZ team expresses a settled intention to hold the field at the current markets and open up new ones. The runup of production and financial results is expected to reach the level of the last year.
What promotes the runup in sales and production?
“Primarily, it is stimulated by technological refinement of production,” says Peter Pahomchik. “Taking into account today’s price level, we are convinced that production must satisfy customers’ requirements. Thus, in the lineup of 130–220-ton trucks there appear 154–160-ton trucks designed specially for open-pits of our enterprises-customers. The first sample-model is being tested now. Another important direction presupposes creation of dieseltrolleydriven transport with the payload of 130, 160 and 220 tons which will get power via line wire. Such kind of transport will provide for diesel fuel economizing in contrast to mine dump trucks which consume several hundreds liters of fuel per hour. Simultaneously, we are trying to solve major ecological problems. The first truck of the kind with the payload capacity of 220 tons is planned for construction in 2009. We received an order for construction of three biggest trucks within the range — the ones with the payload capacity of 320 tons, and we are planning to produce the first truck with the payload capacity of 360 tons.”
Well-known models of Belarusian mine dump trucks are to be renovated. They will be equipped with an AC transmission, which will simplify maintenance. A most important project is being realised in co-operation with Minsk and Tutaevsk (Russia) motor plants. On the basis of our technical assignment, the two enterprises launched production of by far the most advanced diesel engines aimed for dump trucks with 30 and 45-ton payload capacity. The test operation of the first tracks with the advanced engines showed remarkable results, thus, in 2009 hundreds of them will be produced. Not long ago there took place the first round of negotiations with the representatives of the American company “Caterpillar” with the purpose to organize assemblage of large power motors which would reduce the cost of a truck. In its turn, BeAZ is willing to suggest potential partners manufacturing of metallic parts of large dimensions.
Designers hold a dump mine truck capable of transporting of 500 tons of cargo in reserve. It is almost a train set of cars! As may be required, BelAZ possesses potential to produce an over-tonnaged truck which does not have any analogues. How can it be that gigantic mine dump trucks, competing successfully with their famous rivals, are manufactured in a provincial Belarusian town? Nowadays the process begins in the research and development centre recently created at the plant. First of all the specialists decide which kind of truck they have to furnish to a certain customer. Operated by talented designers, the most complicated computation systems project vague wishes into concrete designs. Prototype trucks are tested on the unique proving ground of the plant, and then — at basic enterprises which send information on trucks operation to BelAZ.
Nevertheless, fine production has to be profitably sold. Looking for new customers, BelAZ is expanding distribution network and brand servicing alongside with research on new settling forms in conditions when credit resources are not so available as they used to be. The trucks are planned to be exported in trade for counter-deliveries of coal and other materials into Belarus.
“The status of a world leader obliges for constant development,” thinks Peter Parhomchik. “After our trucks broke-through to Chinese, Australian and Indian markets we are advancing deliveries into Iran. About 30 mine dump tracks are used in Venezuela where assembling production is being organized to launch the manufacture for the whole of Latin America. We have good chances in Brazil including opportunities for large and most expensive trucks. We are planning to strengthen our positions far abroad.”
Among the most important projects there is a creation of joint venture in China. The expert body of BelAZ has visited the country in order to investigate the situation onsite. The possibility to create a joint venture in India is being discussed as well.
The enterprise itself is a subject for sweeping changes. As early as in 1998 there took place the first step of a large-scale reconstruction. As the result, within the period of 5 years 300 newest numerically controlled truck tools, flexible transfer lines were installed in place of 435 outdated units, which cost 277 million US dollars. The investments paid off successfully and at present there is a strong need in a sequent step of production modernization. The orders for equipment manufacture have been already placed. The installation is planned for 2009, and the corresponding contracts are millions of Euros worth. BelAZ specialists control the acceptance of new truck tools and process lines. On the whole by the year of 2012, 120 million Euros will be spent on acquisition of the most modern equipment. More than 500 truck tools and process lines are planned for acquisition. Proceeding this way, in a couple of years BelAZ will be capable of producing twice as more trucks as compared to the output of 2008. Specialists have a settled intention to hit the planned target.