How does production in Swardman look today?
2. 12. 2016
Last year we were crawling, now we’re walking and I believe that next year we will be running. This is how we could describe the development of manufacturing of cylinder mowers here at Swardman.
We have come a long way. While in spring we were not producing anything by ourselves and were “just” carrying out the final assembly of supplied products, almost all production is in-house now. How did this happen?
At the beginning of June, Martin Bulíř joined our company to help us improve our production,. A few days before he started working, we had agreed with our investor, Petr Krogman, that we would move to a production facility out of Prague to be able to support weak supplier chain segments better.
Ing. Martin Bulíř (37)
He started as a technician in design model department at Škoda auto, and 4 years later he went to work at Prof SVAR as chief engineer where he managed a team of engineers and a development laboratory. From there he moved to the internationally successful Preciosa as chief engineer, where he continuously demonstrated his extraordinary skill at solving the insoluble in the custom manufacture of lighting fixtures for global customers.
He was working in the custom manufacture of lighting fixtures in another company when he was offered a position at Swardman. The opportunity to build his own premium mower production plant and win recognition around the world was the right challenge for him. Martin has been at Swardman since June 2016 as project manager and since October 2016 as Swardman operations director.
We identified eight buildings that were immediately available for moving in. One day, we got into a car and visited all of them. We especially liked two of the facilities. Martin Bulíř was the person who made the final decision in favour of Losiná u Plzně. In Losiná, we found a two-store building with a sufficiently large plot where windows had been produced for many years. In less than a week, an agreement was signed.
This decision put everything in motion. We had to wait a month for the change to be recorded in the land registry and then Martin began a hard, almost non-stop work. In a month, he had the first machine installed – a large grinder for cylinder grinding. Essential construction work and electrical modifications were started, together with recruitment of new colleagues. Additional machinery was ordered and other activities necessary to begin producing Swardman mowers were undertaken.
Recruiting new personnel was not easy. Try to choose staff for an empty, unfurnished workshop... But as machinery and equipment gradually moved in, the number of employees started to increase. Martin did a great job with the recruitment, especially in Losiná and its vicinity. Although I was worried that finding good welders would be tough, we finally managed to find two skillful guys.
Our welding operations started in August, beginning with the manufacture of assembly areas and the manufacture of custom jigs that were designed and tested by Martin Bulíř. Then, at the beginning of September, the cylinder grinder was put into operation and small-scale machining started. At the end of September, a paint shop and a varnishing box were installed. A surface grinder, a laser and a CNC centre arrived in October. At the beginning of November, work was started on two brand new assembly lines that will enable us to produce up to 300 mowers in a single-shift operating mode. This has multiplied our production capacity.
It was a superhuman task to coordinate 36 suppliers in the limited assembly space in Praha Štěrboholy. When they met the deadline of supplying the quantity of ordered parts, they were unable to maintain a sufficient level of quality. This resulted in the necessity to repair, rework, return, and make warranty claims. We would not survive another year continuing like this. Therefore, the assembly in Štěrboholy will be terminated at the end of the year and will only continue in Losiná u Plzně.
Running the production in our own “plant” is a logical solution to ensure strong and reliable operations for our planned expansion abroad.
Not only have we made it from crawling to walking, but winter production of stock will create proper preconditions for us to start running next year. Maybe you believed, like many others, that Swardman was not a manufacturer, only an importer of mowers from abroad. Please note that the opposite is true. Swardman is a manufacturer of Czech cylinder mowers that exports abroad..