Work Innovatively

While Exploiting

Our Industrial


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

automotive industry.

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


Barbora Kubalová

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

local workplaces?

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

this project?

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

from Sweden.

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.