INVESTOŘI V MSK
Vítězslav Lukáš, ABB's CEO and Director of
the Robotics and Automation Unit, has been with
ABB for twenty-four years, having worked in several
divisions and held a number of senior positions both in
the Czech Republic and abroad before his appointment.
We couldn't have met a more qualified person for
a stimulating conversation about ABB's thirty years on
the Czech market and its future.
You have been working for ABB almost since its
beginnings in the Czech Republic. How has ABB
changed over the past three decades?
We try not to be the ones who just react to change. On
the contrary, we are working to lead change. Examples
are the fields of electro-mobility, such as fast-charging
infrastructure or production technologies for electric
cars, which are gradually replacing the traditional
In the power industry, we used to build traditional power
plants whereas today power generation is diversifying, so
we are developing and delivering smart grid controls.
Robotics is a separate chapter that illustrates the dynamic
development over the last thirty years. When I joined
ABB in 1998, the robotics unit was one of the start-ups.
We counted its employees in units. Today, this division
has around 210 people in the Czech Republic and is
growing. It develops, manufactures and refurbishes
robotic equipment which is exported all over the world.
And how have the years spent with ABB changed you?
It's been a nice twenty-four years in an international
environment. It has given me perspective. I realised
that the Czech Republic is not the end of the world. On
the contrary, if we want to be successful in something,
we have to look beyond the borders. Although we
are a developed country, we still have only ten million
inhabitants. If a company wants to be successful in
international competition, it must expand beyond the Czech
Republic. The world is as global today as it has ever been.
Ing. Radúz Mácha
Foto: archiv ABB
Ostrava is one of seven locations in the Czech
Republic where ABB operates. Can you tell us why you
chose Ostrava and tell us about the importance of the
Ostrava has been on our radar since the early 1990s,
when ABB officially entered the Czech market.
We respect and make great use of the local industrial
potential. There are people in the Ostrava region
about whom I say that 'their great-grandfather worked
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in industry'; the relationship with technology is simply
inherited among the local people. This tradition is a very
good basis for any technology company.
Since the early 1990s, we have been developing
activities here and have grown gradually. Today, we have
650 colleagues in Ostrava who are involved in both
the development of new technologies and the actual
deployment of them. We also focus on research
and development here. For example, we are writing
a sophisticated system for ship management.
Our overlap to, for example, the maritime industry is proof
that, in this globalised world, we are able to succeed even
in places where no one would expect a Czech footprint.
ABB Group is building a new robotics development
and production centre in the Ostrava--Mošnov
industrial zone. It will focus on the development and
hi-tech production of robotic peripherals. The existing
Global Robot Repair and Refurbishment Centre will
also be relocated here. Can you give us an overview of
We started robotic activities in Ostrava in 2007. From
the beginning, we wanted to make them more European,
which we have been able to do thanks to the quality
of our work. I would break our operations in this area
down to three categories:
We develop and build robotic cells and production lines in
Ostrava. For example, we have built a production line for
a Belgian tractor-trailer manufacturer and a production
line for BMW parts in South Africa.
We are also involved in the refurbishment of robots.
We are a world leader in this field. We buy robots from
customers where they have already served their ten
years. We give these robots a new life in Ostrava. We
also give them a new control system and upgrade them
to the current level of knowledge. We then supply them
back to the international market.
Last but not least, we are expanding the production of
robot peripherals that work with the robot in our new hall
in Mošnov. We are extending our current portfolio here
and at the same time transferring existing production
As an employer, what key competencies and attributes
will you require from your employees to fulfil your
vision for the future?
Of course, we target people who are technically and
linguistically equipped, innovative people who are not
afraid to do things in a different way. That's very important
because much of Czech prosperity was still built on
the fact that the Czech Republic offered good quality and
a very nice regional location at a cheaper price.
But compared to industrial countries like Spain or Italy,
we have almost lost our price advantage. The need for
innovation, for thinking outside the box, has never been
as acute as it is today. We will no longer be a country
where foreign investment will come because labour
is cheap. Not only is it no longer cheap, it is no longer
available here at all. There is a need to gradually move
the industry closer to innovation, which will eventually
create more added value. On the contrary, it makes
no sense to compete with what other, less developed
countries in Europe can do.