24 (119) 2016
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British Investment

An exemplar of British manufacturing

by Dariusz Podgórski, vice president, AGI Eastern Europe (North), Bodycote Polska Sp. z o.o.
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Bodycote is the world’s largest and most respected provider of thermal processing services which form a vital link in the manufacturing supply chain.

Operating an international network of facilities, it serves a wide range of industries, including aerospace, defence, automotive, power generation, oil and gas, construction, machine building, medical and transportation. The core technologies provided are heat treatment, metal joining, hot isostatic pressing and surface technology.

Bodycote operates in two major areas: aerospace, defence and energy; and the automotive and general industrial business (which includes construction, machine-building and medical industries). Bodycote, founded by Arthur Bodycote in 1923, has been listed on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: BOY) since 1972. Today, it has 178 plants in 24 countries all around the world and employs 5,370 people globally. In 2015, the company’s turnover amounted to £567.2m; over 90% of the group's revenue comes from outside the UK.

Bodycote’s presence in Poland goes back to 2005. We entered the Polish market through an acquisition of an already-existing heat-treatment company. Initially, its activities conducted under the Bodycote brand focused on implementing the group’s operational and quality standards, as well as standards regarding safety, health and the environment. Within a few years all our plants were certified with ISO 14001. All of the facilities had been ISO 9001-certified even before the acquisition. Having succeeded in implementing the group’s requirements, Bodycote began to invest in the newly acquired plants, introducing ever more modern equipment and technologies.

The new capacity and technology were necessary to attract big international companies from the automotive industry as well as from the rest of the manufacturing sector. The globally recognised brand of Bodycote has worked to our advantage, but at the same time it has motivated us to become and remain the best service-provider on the Polish market. Our commitment to do so has won us a number of new businesses, especially in the automotive industry. Among our customers are Faurecia, American Axle, Haering, Toyota and many others.

The crisis that began in 2009 did slow down our development, but it also taught us how to become more efficient. The key element here was the implementation of the rule of continuous development, an approach that allowed us to improve in many areas, including our financial results. We began to be perceived by our board in the UK as a place worth further investing in. We started to think about a modern greenfield plant that would allow us to become even more competitive and increase our share in the Polish heat treatment market.

This idea was finally implemented in 2015 in Siechnice in Lower Silesia. The grand opening ceremony took place in April.  Many guests, the majority of whom were our customers, came to the event, and we were also honoured by the presence of representatives of the BPCC and the British Embassy.  The new plant has been equipped with a unique solution - a fully-automatic work line with specialised furnaces that no other plant in Poland can pride itself on.

The good economic situation in Polish industry today encourages us to take on new challenges. We have been contemplating the idea of increasing the share of our heat-treatment services in the aerospace industry for many years. The highest concentration of aerospace companies in Poland is in the south-east part of the country, in the Podkarpackie province with its capital of Rzeszów. In 2003, the Aviation Valley Association was established in this area. Today, it has a membership of around 100 companies, many of them being global giants in the aerospace sector. We took the decision to invest in another greenfield plant, which will be built in the Special Economic Zone near Rzeszów’s Jasionka Airport. The plan is to have completed the construction of the hall by the end of this year and to start production in the first quarter of 2017.

All that allows us to see ourselves as a good example of a British company, which for over a decade has been successfully developing its business on the Polish market. Today, we have six plants in the country and a seventh is to be soon put into operation.  We would not be able to pride ourselves on our achievements without the commitment, passion and expertise of our employees.

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