PANAGYURISHTE (Bulgaria), February 2, 2018, Author: Michail Vanchev (Capital.bg) Photo: PFO Archive
Measured investments of approximately EUR 2 million per annum during the last 5-6 years and stepping on new markets in Asia – these are the two factors, which have brought to doubling of the civil and military production of the companies from Opticoelectron Group in three years.
“Plant for Optics”, “Optomechanic”, and “Ectron” belong to the Group, which is technologically connected with all companies and FMB AD. “In 2017 we went beyond the sales amount of BGN 38 million through manufacturing and selling of our products and after a long interruption we started to sell again special products to the Border Police. Only the Bulgarian Army, for the last 20 years, has not showed interest in our products”, comments for “Capital” Eng. Ivan Garchev, the Executive Director of “Opticoelectron”.
The Bulgarian market represents only 3-4% of the total sales of the Company of the town of Panagyurishte. The personnel of all companies from the Group number over 700 people, one fourth of which are engineers.
Most often the purchasers of the production are armies that look for contemporary means for direct and remote observation of people and machines.
“Even China – the country that may produce everything cheap – when it concerns defense machinery, gives money for products of the highest quality like ours. Smaller Asian countries also purchase. The companies from the Group of Opticoelectron traditionally win tenders in the EU as well. We add value to the products for the military industry through including in them not only optical parts, including infrared optics, but also more electronic, fine mechanical parts and units,” explains Ivan Garchev.
From Opticoelectron, Bulgaria purchases new devices and equipment for the border guards. During the last 2 years the Company won 4 tenders at the total amount of BGN 5,200,000. Two of them are for supply of searchlight for the border policemen. The Company also supplies three mobile surveillance posts. They are put on military trucks in a special container and include devices for day and night surveillance of our land border with a range of several kilometres. The fourth tender is for repair of thermal imaging cameras and building of new posts for technical surveillance of the Bulgarian borders.
The civil production, manufactured by the Company in the town of Panagyurishte, is also high-tech one. Most often the micro-optical products of the Group are purchased and serve in the medical industry. “We create the optics for endoscopes and very powerful microscopes. Most of the European endoscopes contain elements, created by us,” says Eng. Ivan Garchev. The major markets of the managed by him Company are EU states – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, and Spain.
The most essential contribution for the increased production in Opticoelectron is of the acquired new technologies, thanks to which the Company entered the markets for ultra-precision technics and optics. “The added value and prices of these products are higher in comparison to the traditional production of the companies from the Group. Entering new markets is also related to investments for promotion of our products, as well as to establishing of new partnerships,” comments the Executive Director of the Company.
As the most important for the sudden increase of the production he defines the investments in CNC machines and the establishment of a new warehouse for treating of parts for thermal imaging devices. “We acquired and already work with new installations for coating of aluminium parts. In the “Plant for Optics” we invested resources for installations for special coatings of optical parts. We have new generation machines – CNC – for treating of optical parts. In 2017 we opened a new warehouse for infrared optics. The total investment in it is approximately EUR 2 million,” explains Eng. Ivan Garchev.
Within two years the Company registered in the Patent Authority two of its useful models. One of them is night vision aviator glasses, and the second one is a surveillance module, the construction of which allows the high resolution of the image to be kept when the mirror gradient changes.
However, the sudden increase of the production sets in front of the company management team significant challenges. Within the last 3 years the labour efficiency has increased by approximately 25%, which is a result from the made investments and improved personnel qualification. According to Eng. Ivan Garchev they already feel the lack of specialized staff. The long-term solutions to that issue, which they apply here, are two. The Company has supported financially, since years, by two classes of the specialized professional high school in the town of Panagyurishte, but the job “temptations” for the high school graduates are a lot, including in the town of Panagyurishte itself. The Company solves the issue of the constantly growing demand for its production and the lack of workers through cooperation with other companies.
The management analyses show that the Group companies are not endangered of investment “overheating”, because the main financial source for the new investments is the own profit. The market driver of the current growth is the military industry, but if the armed conflicts decrease, the Company has a ready strategic solution for transition to civil production.