Q: There are only two centers of this kind in the world, one in Ostrava and one in Bangalore, India. Why did you decide for this concept and why did you choose to place one of them in the Czech Republic?
A. In general, the creation of OPC was driven by the effort of PA division to assure high quality engineering support for affordable price. In order to achieve that we decided to swap several small local engineering units for large engineering centers and created one in Bangalore (because of the sheer volume of engineers available) and the second in Ostrava.
There were many reasons why Ostrava ways ideal for us. Firstly, Ostrava has a very good technical university and secondly, Ostrava has a heritage of heavy industry and engineering, which we can see is present even today. This unique combination of having the right mix of a highly educated workforce and proximity to customers made Ostrava an ideal choice. Ostrava is an attractive city, relatively well connected and ideally situated in terms of time zones, which helps to facilitate communication between the teams located here and the customers they work with. Being located in the heart of Europe, most countries on the continent can be reached in just a few hours.
Q: After 10 years of OPC in Ostrava, how do you evaluate its success?
A: When this organization started in 2002, it started as a small operation to support BU Metals with 5 engineers, then also BU Minerals. Over time, it has transformed and developed into the flourishing organization that it is today, supporting nearly all of our BUs, with a headcount of over 140 employees. I still remember attending the first steering committee for increasing the size and intensity of the operations back in 2006 - over the course of that year, we changed the mandate and started to scale up in order to support more BUs and diverse projects. We also implemented strong and flexible quality systems to accommodate a variety of requirements from customers. Over the course of the next few years, the organization more than doubled in size.
In our business, it is critical that we as an organization constantly motivate and retain talent in the company. Ostrava as an organization has been very stable with very low attrition rate which helps in consistently building more competence and specialization. Building the OPC here has really been team work and credit must also be given to the business units and local business units in Europe whic have worked with a distributed team model and supported in transferring process competence and knowledge to our organization in Ostrava
The OPC in Ostrava has been highly valuable, supporting our business units by contributing to prestigious projects like Sadara in Saudi Arabia - world's largest greenfield petrochemicals plant ever built. The teams played a key role in designing the automation cabinets for ABB OGP Norway for the Goliat platform, a unique FPSO (floating production storage and off-loading) vessel for oil and gas in the North Sea. Engineers from CZOPC are also supporting the development of automation solutions for BU Marine and supporting numerous other service and system deliveries in Europe and other parts of the world.
The most important tool we use to measure success is feedback from our customers. Due to the high quality work that the team in Ostrava delivers, we have had very happy, repeat customers. This is the best measure of success for any of our teams. However, we can't get complacent with success - as the organization grows, we have to continue to train and keep abreast of the latest technologies, continue to deliver on our promises and implement best practice.
Overall, I would say our operations center in Ostrava has come a long way and has been an enormous success. I think all of our employees in Ostrava should be very proud.
Q: What are your ambitions and further plans related to OPC in the Czech Republic?
A: The 'Europe for Europe' strategy is a fundamental component of the overall group strategy- the OPC in Ostrava plays a key role in helping us to execute and achieve the targets we have set as part of this strategy. Karsten Warloe, head of CZOPC, and his team are now working even closer with the LBUs that we have located across Europe to support their growth targets. We also plan to further develop our competency around electrical & drives and we will continue to put efforts into this area.
In the future, we think that there will be further demand for mechanical engineers in our businesses. We are already starting to build up competency in this area. Ostrava has a long history of producing high quality mechanical engineers, so we will once again take advantage of our ideal location in this regard.
As a part of our 2015 strategy, we plan to accelerate our presence and reach in electrification. Our strength and proximity to the core industries like Pulp and Paper, Metals, Oil and Gas provides us with natural synergy to expand into optimized solutions in this segment. Our team in Ostrava is now working with the Center of Excellence for Pulp & Paper located in Vaasa, Finland and with Norwegian Oil and Gas unit to increase our global share of this market.
I also see a lot of potential as we grow our service business. We just re-located the BU headquarters of Full Service to Prague. This reflects the strength of the resources we see in this country. I envision even more of our service work being executed out of Ostrava in the future, as service is a key growth area across all of our businesses.