Manfred Stern, vice-president of Yaskawa Electric Corporation, the world's largest producer of industrial robots, has signed a contract with the caretaker minister for economic development and technology Zdravko Počivalšek, and Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič in the presence of the outgoing PM Miro Cerar.
The value of this investment is said to be between 20 and 30 million euros and between 200 and 250 people will be employed. Stern expects Yaskawa to acquire the land for the two additional plants by April 2019. Prior to this, Kočevje Municipality needs to prepare a municipal spatial plan.
Once it has the land, Yaskawa will need around seven more hectares of land over the following years. It is expected that production will start within two years at the latest. Yaskawa already has such a production plant in Scotland and the Kočevje-based factories will boost capacity.
The new plants will be located close to the first European robot factory, which this Japanese company has been building since November last year. According to Stern, its construction is proceeding according to the plan, despite the snowy winter. In this factory, Yaskawa will provide employment for approximately 250 people by 2023 and produce 6000 robots per year.
State's support for the investment
Investment in the robot factory amounts to approximately 25 million euros which includes state support of 5.6 million euros. Minister Počivalšek said that the state will most probably provide a similar incentive for the two additional plants.
Yaskawa will thus create up to 500 jobs in the region of Kočevje, which has been plagued by high unemployment for years. Stern and other participants stressed that it will be a great challenge to provide a sufficient number of skilled workers. For this reason, Kočevje, together with the state and Yaskawa, will launch an engineering programme in the local vocational college. The programme will include direct cooperation with the Japanese company, as it will be the future employer of the students.
Slovenia to be a distribution centre
Manufacture in Slovenia will cater for around 75% of the company's market needs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, Slovenia will be the central distribution point for robots coming in from Japan.
Yaskawa will also establish a research and development centre. The new centre will enhance and upgrade cooperation with local faculties and institutes. Yaskawa already cooperates with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Jožef Štefan Institute.