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INNOVATIVE IDEAS FOR SMART PRODUCTS

Sara Turk | 01.09.2014

Leading the way in Slovenian innovation, ATech elektronika’s status as a designer and developer of innovative ideas for smart products is not in question. Daniel Barnes chatted with CEO Davor Jakulin about the company’s increasing recognition and responsibility as a supplier to some of the world’s biggest electronics companies.

For over 20 years, ATech elektronika has proven itself to be the solution provider of choice for electrical brands across a multitude of industries. This joint Swiss-Slovenian venture not only designs and manufactures micro-controller based motor control assemblies, advanced connectivity electronics, solid biomass combustion control electronics and other embedded electronic products, but also combines its research and development expertise to offer partnerships with its customers that result in the most efficient electronics solutions around.

“Our key customers are from different sectors, but we are especially focussed on EU companies in the industrial and medical sectors,” said CEO Davor Jakulin. “Usually, they are looking for a reliable partner who is flexible and responsive to their needs. They choose us because we can guarantee them a complete service. We can manage procurement risk and guarantee top delivery performance for a reasonable price.”

Mr Jakulin has been an ever-present at the company since it was formed in 1990. Originally one of four partners, Mr Jakulin bought out the other shareholders in 1996. The move has most certainly paid off; today ATech is an €8 million operation, currently growing annually by an impressive 20 per cent, and has a reference list including the likes of Johnson Controls, Danfoss, Stanley Black & Decker and also the Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group (BSH).

Increasing International Sales

Whilst Slovenia still remains the most important country for sales, home market reliance is diminishing as each passing year seems to bring more international recognition. Less than ten years ago, in 2006, only 30 per cent of sales were for the export market; today Mr Jakulin happily stated that this is now double.

“The Slovenian market is today responsible for 40 per cent of our sales, with the rest of Europe making up the majority of the remainder,” he said, citing Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Austria as key markets. “We do export out of the EU, and while this figure is increasing, it is currently no more than ten per cent.”

From its 2,000sq m facility in the small town of Materija (just a 30 minute journey to Slovenia’s tiny stretch of coastline, and an even shorter trip to the Italian border), ATech’s team of 100 employees provides design, manufacturing, and overall support services, focussing on providing valueadded products, design and production solutions to its clients.

Mastering Motor Controls

One product area ATech is particularly well-renowned for is its array of motor controls. The company claims to offer technically superior electronic motor controls with a high price-performance ratio. Furthermore, ATech’s proprietary driving algorithms provide precise regulation of speed, position and torque and diminish energy consumption.

The company’s range of motors can be found in all manner of applications; power tools, home appliances, actuators, traction and ventilators. With an extensive assortment of motor control platforms already developed, ATech’s experienced team of developers is constantly producing units with added value at shortened lead times.

A major factor in this achievement is the company’s integrated value chain. ATech’s processes are up to and beyond the required level for ISO 9001 and ISO 140001 certification, with production supported through an ERP management system. In short, ATech can provide all aspects of research and development, incoming logistics, production and outgoing logistics.

But this wouldn’t be possible without the close supporting network of suppliers and partners ATech collaborates with, all of whom Mr Jakulin paid particular attention to.

“We source from only the finest and most reliable partners. Of course, every customer is looking for good service and response, so we look also to be supported with good information.

“The role of our suppliers is also to predict, and to serve us with information about market developments. We look for partners who are able to manage that risk, support us with different technical information (for example a product change notification) and who are proactive with new trends. We look for long term relationships with customers and of course with suppliers who can give us this long term perspective.”

Environmental and Innovation Recognition

Receiving a number of national awards, and as a regular name in Slovenia’s annual list of the 40 most innovative Slovenian companies, ATech is an active member of the United Nations Global Compact initiative. A key aim of the initiative is to provide a global platform for businesses in a quest to improve human rights, labour, and environmental conditions around the globe whilst also tackling corruption.

On this matter, Mr Jakulin was keen to highlight the high degree of responsibility ATech has towards the social and natural environment. Environmentally friendly solutions, such as the recuperation of thermal energy during the renovation of the company’s manufacturing hall, are just one example of the company’s commitment.

Another is the creation of a completely new arm of business for the company. Fumis – designed and manufactured by ATech - provides combustion control technology for stoves, burners and boilers with state-of-the-art flow control. For applications using pellets, woodchips, firewood and other biomass combustibles, the eco-friendly and cost efficient benefits experienced by customers has resulted in ATech receiving a gold innovation award by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Primorska.

A Positive Outlook

All noises coming out of this small corner of Slovenia sound extremely positive, which ever way you look at it. And as for Mr Jakulin, whilst satisfied with the continued progress of his company, he is not foolish and resting on his laurels.

“Our plan for the future is very simple: constant growth supported by constant improvement. In 2015, we plan to increase our existing production facility and invest in new cutting edge technologies which will allow us to grow by up to €12 million per year.

“We are optimistic about the future of the global economy, because that's the only way to survive - especially Europe. Europe will always be the market for customers with the highest standards, and the demands for quality and ability is always increasing. We are currently in discussions with different EU companies that are bringing back their sourcing to Europe from China, because quality, ability, reliability, safety, and transparency are just some of the qualities ingrained into our company.”



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