Continental Pleased with Situation in Czech Republic
Looking back at its decision to operate a plant in the Czech Republic, Continental AG says it is pleased with the situation in the country. The company reports that is plans are on track and it has noticed some real benefits of operating in this area. For example, the elimination of border controls on what used to be the EU frontier has noticeably reduced transport times. What’s more, the paperwork involved and the costs entailed are also said to have been cut. Purchasing is also benefiting from improved material procurement from all of Eastern Europe, the company says. “Continental AG decided in favour of an engagement in the Czech Republic 12 years ago, and thus very early on. This has long since proved to have been a smart move. The EU’s eastward expansion makes the location even more attractive,” said Manfred Wennemer, chairman of Continental’s executive board, on the occasion of Czech president Vaclav Klaus’ visit to the company’s Otrokovice factory.
All of the Continental AG divisions are present in the Czech Republic, where the company has invested a total of more than 300 million euros in the last five years. One result of this investment is seen in the company’s production capacity. The Barum Continental plant in Otrokovice will turn out about 18.5 million passenger tyres in 2005. ”Barum Continental exports more than 80 per cent of what it produces and is the biggest European manufacturer of passenger tyres,“ said Pavel Pravec, plant manager in Otrokovice. The Continental facility is Otrokovice’s major employer, supplying work for around 4,300 people. Mr Pravec is proud of his team, which has helped the plant attain quality certification to ISO 9001, ISO 14 001, EMAS, EU 1836/93 and ISO 14000.
The Automotive Systems division assembles brake assist units and tandem master cylinders at a plant in Jicin in the Czech Republic. In addition, fifty engineers provide backup support for production and for application development. With around 1,250 employees and an annual turnout of around 8 million units, the factory in Jicin is the largest producer of brake assist units anywhere in the world. 10 years old this year, the Jicin plant, like the Otrokovice plant, is its region’s major employer.
The motivated and highly qualified technical staff, lower costs and good transport and logistics connections are important reasons for the automotive supplier to manufacture in the Czech Republic. “We shall continue to invest here on into the future,” said Dr Hans-Joachim Nikolin, head of the commercial vehicle tyre division