The development of the cable industry determines the state of the economy, the availability of investment programs in construction, power engineering and machine-building - where GDP is born. That is why it serves as a kind of indicator by which the state of other industries can be determined. Competition in this market forces manufacturers to look for ways to reduce the weight, dimensions of cables and wires, to increase their service life through the introduction of more modern materials, to reduce costs through the use of domestic import substitution developments. Employees of the cable industry celebrate their professional holiday on October 25. We asked its leaders - Anvar Bulkhin, the President of JSC "Samara Cable Company" and Igor Sherstnikov, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC "SKK" (on photo) about how things are going in "SKK Holding" - one of the flagships of domestic cable industry. They told us in detail about the tasks facing the company and how they are being solved.
The order portfolio forms the market
- Today the market of cable production is saturated with assortment. Manufacturers face the task of finding technical solutions that will increase the competitiveness of products, allow to expand the occupied segment in the market. What is the holding working on at the moment?
- Over the past three years, the package of orders of SKK has undergone significant changes. Growth of construction market, increase of energy saturation of erected objects, customers' need for fireproof cables that can withstand significant temperature loads, non-combustible and do not emit harmful substances under the influence of open fire, have set our enterprises a certain vector of development. After development of release of new kinds of cables in non-combustible execution this group of production began to dominate in our portfolio of orders.
CJSC Samara Optical Cable Company, part of the holding company, which is managed by Anvar Sherstnikov, supplies optical communication cables to the largest Russian provider of digital services PJSC Rostelecom, telecommuting companies PJSC Megafon, PJSC Vimpelcom, PJSC MTS, regional operators PJSC Rosset and companies of oil and gas industry.
Sometimes like this, coming to the site, holding managers - Anvar Bulkhin and General Director of JSC "SKK" Valery Klyuchnikov - quickly find solutions to important issues.
In addition to traditional cables for laying in the ground, sewerage and suspension on power lines, in the order book there are multi-fiber micro cables. Such cable for 144 fibres was supplied by CJSC "SOKK" to JSC "SMARTS", which is implementing the project "Creation of protected road telecommunications networks". The first stage of the project was carried out in Samara region and covered 10 urban districts and 27 municipal districts. A similar cable was supplied to Italy by CJSC "SOKK".
Import substitution is gaining momentum.
- The share of imported components in the cable industry is traditionally high. Are there any attempts by the holding to reduce it?
- JSC "SKK" develops the production of cable products for the automotive industry with the use of components created by Russian enterprises, and supplies products to car assembly enterprises of the country of such world brands as Volkswagen, Renault, KIA, Hyundai, FORD, General Motors, Nissan.
And although today the production of Russian fiber optic cable mainly uses materials of foreign suppliers, our company has started production of cables based on domestic fiber created by the Russian company JSC "Optical Fiber Systems" in Saransk since this year.
There will be no innovations without optimization.
- Optimization of production processes is almost a defining trend of recent years in all areas. How does it work in your holding?
- Balanced production should ensure the most complete satisfaction of market demand with the maximum utilization of equipment. This is what we are striving for. And one of the ways to optimize the production capacity of the enterprise is to increase labor productivity.
New cable production lines are an investment in the future of the company.
At the end of 2017, the Government of the Russian Federation adopted the "Labour Productivity Improvement" programme for 2017-2025. Six pilot regions were identified in the country, including the Samara Region. Twelve enterprises from the province have applied for participation in this programme. They were strictly selected for a number of indicators. For example, the enterprise had to have a lean production method and ensure annual growth of labor productivity by at least 5% and a number of other conditions.
JSC "SKK" was selected and included in the number of participants in the program, and February 14, 2019 the launch of this project was held on the basis of the workshop for the production of pipelines, which was defined as the starting point. Now the whole enterprise is involved in the work on the project, and it can be said with confidence that its implementation will improve the efficiency of production and competitiveness of SKK products.
We have engaged in commissioning of new equipment and modernization of the existing one and eliminated disproportions in capacities of workshops, sections and groups. We have placed new equipment on the areas free of obsolete equipment, which allowed us to optimize process chains. As a result, thanks to the elimination of equipment downtime, loading of equipment was significantly increased, including the start of production of LAN cable. The demand for this cable is quite high, and previously it was supplied only from abroad. For its production this year, both underutilized production facilities and additionally purchased equipment were put into operation.
- Your enterprise traditionally supplies products to AVTOVAZ assembly line. Has the volume of orders from car manufacturers changed?
- Production of automotive wires was and still is one of the main areas of SKK's production. And the increased demand for our products in 2018, as well as the projected increase in consumption in the years to come, required us to increase productivity on existing equipment by increasing speeds and service standards, as well as by urgently increasing production capacity. This year, the company purchased five units of major process equipment, the commissioning of which allowed us to increase capacity by 17%.
SKK cables are waiting for power engineers, road builders, construction workers and large production facilities.
We have also managed to cope with the so-called bottlenecks that arise when fulfilling urgent orders for a group of cables requiring aluminum sheathing. Once the aluminum press has been improved, downtime is minimized for technical reasons.
- Which innovative products will enter the market in the near future? What will be the difference between them and existing products?
- We are preparing for mass production of a whole range of power and control cables with new properties. There is already demand for them on the market. We will produce cables that do not spread combustion when laid in groups, with reduced smoke and gas emission, for cold climate areas. Together with OJSC "VNIIKP" we are engaged in development of power and control fireproof cables of increased reliability for hazardous areas. In particular, control fire-resistant cables of reduced fire hazard, insulation of which is made of silicon-forming rubber. This allows to optimize the design, reduce cable diameters, while maintaining the limit of fire resistance and performance under conditions of flame exposure up to 180 minutes.
Quality is an indicator of competitiveness.
- Compliance with standards allows manufacturers to compete with other companies. How is a quality control system built in a company?
- Compliance with quality requirements is the primary task of each production site. We manufacture products that are integrated into complex systems and are responsible for each cable. For us, quality is above all about safety. Our quality management system ensures that we produce products that meet all customer, legal and regulatory requirements. In the past and current years, we have received confirmation that our management systems meet the requirements of Russian and international standards.
Accounting at modern production facilities, where hundreds of cable types are produced, is the basis of marketing.
Within the framework of audits of consumers of automobile pipelines the enterprise confirmed the status of the supplier of automobile pipelines. We consistently meet the requirements for certification of manufactured products. Last year we received 24 certificates of compliance with the requirements of the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union and the Technical Regulations of Fire Safety for manufactured products. Certification of power and control groups of cables that do not spread combustion, with low smoke and gas emission, allows us to supply products to the facilities of OJSC Rosseti. And the certificates of conformity for self-supporting insulated and protected overhead power lines in the Voluntary Certification System "Gazprommsert" give green light for delivery to the facilities of OAO Gazprom.
Ensuring that our management systems meet the requirements of international standards allows us to confirm our status as one of the best suppliers of cable products in the country.
Course - to the international market
- Your products are already being exported, and there are certainly plans to expand your presence in the international market. What is being done to achieve this goal?
- In order to enter new markets, the company is working in an orderly manner, including cooperation with various government organizations and participation in their programs. JSC "SKK" is one of 34 companies of Samara region, which have applied to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation for inclusion in the register of organizations implementing the corporate program of competitiveness improvement, aimed at improving export performance. We expect the selection results in the nearest future.
Interacting with JSC "Russian Export Center", we took part in a business mission in Mongolia and plan to continue such work in 2020. Our company willingly takes part in meetings organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Samara region government with representatives of business circles from other countries.
CJSC "SOKK" serves as a supplier of fiber-optic cable to the CIS countries: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus - and continues cooperation with buyers-contractors in the European Union.
The most important resource
- Innovation is not possible without relying on the competence of the staff. How do you select and train your staff? Do you recruit young professionals to your team? Do mentors help them to adapt?
- In pre-regulation times, there were practically no problems with training - basic vocational schools also trained employees for the cable industry. But since the early 1990s, the slender vocational education system has been falling apart. It was a very difficult time for our company, as well as for the whole industry. Like many others, we took over the functions of financing and organizing vocational training for young workers. For this purpose, the company has created its own system for training cable workers in 22 professions. Beginners are trained by highly qualified working tutors and specialists. We also have programs for further professional development, training in related professions, team leadership. And the system of professional orientation of schoolchildren, students of professional education helps us to attract future personnel. It is aimed, among other things, at encouraging students to get higher education in the city's universities.
The system of training, development and maintenance of competencies existing at the enterprise includes advanced training of managers and specialists, targeted training, internships, programs for development of the personnel reserve, familiarization with the history, corporate culture, traditions of the enterprise. More than 30% of the company's employees have higher education, 1.4% of them have academic degrees. 23% of employees with higher education work in their working professions.
For decades we have been working closely with specialized faculties of the leading Samara universities, mastering new technologies and products. Cooperation in this direction is particularly fruitful with Samara State Technical University, Samara National Research University named after academician S.P.Korolev and Volga Region State University of Telecommunications and Informatics. 12 employees of the Company are currently undergoing on-the-job training in their specialized fields at Samara universities.
However, even with such diverse work in this direction, concern over the lack of qualified personnel remains. The company is constantly developing and needs professionals.
- Social responsibility of business starts with caring for employees. How would you assess the conditions in which the enterprise team works?
- We always pay great attention to the care of our staff. Our collective agreement is one of the best in the industry: it includes additional payments, benefits and compensations to employees. The company has a well-equipped health centre, which allows for on-the-job treatment and prevention of diseases and reduction of working time losses.
Meeting with production veterans is always pleasant: responsible attitude to the common cause and integrity are not forgotten.
A lot of work aimed at helping young specialists is carried out by the Youth Council, creating conditions for the development and realization of their scientific, technical and creative potential, taking care of family support, organizing cultural and sporting events. We support our retired veterans. 168 veterans of the company receive a monthly pension supplement, more than 500 people receive financial aid for anniversaries and the Day of the Elderly.
The personnel of CJSC "SOKK" is the main asset of the enterprise. Correctly selected personnel ensure successful functioning of all production processes at the proper level.