Michał Brzozowski, CEO of Metroplan Polska
Last year, Metroplan celebrated the 20th anniversary of launching operations in Poland. How would you summarize this period and what was the main driving force of the company?
At the beginning, it is important to realize that 20 years ago, when the company was founded, Poland looked completely different. The airport in Wrocław was small, there were no motorways apart from the post-German section of the A4. While looking for an economically attractive region in Eastern Europe and after in-depth analyzes, the choice fell on Lower Silesia and Wrocław. The results clearly showed that it has potential for the development of industry – it is rich in staff, it has a good Technical University (Wrocław University of Science and Technology) and a convenient transport connection with Germany. This region has developed a lot over time, which was the main driving force for our company – next to the transfer of companies from the West to the East. From the perspective of the past 20 years, it can be said that in terms of location it was a shot at “10”. We currently operate in all countries of Eastern Europe as well as in the USA and China.
Many industries are currently struggling with numerous challenges, such as the lack of qualified workforce, rising prices of building materials or epidemic threats in factories. How to deal with these challenges and can automation of production turn out to be the cure for all evil?
Let me start with the fact that the staff in Poland is getting better. We already have well-educated employees who are familiar with the market of often complex technologies. However, the problem is faced by those companies that in the past did not care for people and treated them as necessarily evil. As Metroplan, we did not encounter any staff problems, because we take great care of our employees – we organize numerous trainings, provide a wide field of development and enable work in actual international teams. The language used in our company is English and you can hear this language very often in the corridors of our office. As for the second part of the question, which is automation, everyone would like to do it … but few know how. Generally, automation is good and helps a lot, but it is also costly and problematic to implement. Any corrections take time – simple changes often last 2 weeks, and not, as in the case of human labor, 2 hours. In my opinion, automation cannot be treated as a panacea for all evil, although it is one of the best methods that should be taken into account if you want to minimize losses caused by a pandemic. However, there is one condition for the system to work, it must be fully performed well. There are no half measures here. Any mismatched component will spoil the overall efficiency of the installation.
Currently, enterprises attach great importance to running the company in a sustainable and responsible way. What specific activities in these areas is Metroplan undertaking in Poland?
Operating in a sustainable, optimized and open-to-rapid changes is essential nowadays. The unpredictability of the market is a real challenge. We must learn to make decisions very quickly and to anticipate the future as good as possible. We currently address our clients with solutions that fit into the trend of sustainable and responsible production, such as: implementation of innovative management systems, Lean Management and Scrum methodologies, the use of technologies based on Big Data, robotization or the aforementioned automation. All this helps you find yourself in a new, rapidly changing world, while respecting the natural environment through, for example, efficient energy consumption and sustainable waste management. It is also very important to properly match automatic subsystems to parameters – so that they are flexible and modifiable at a fast pace. Just like the integration of 4.0 components, which will allow you to quickly and clearly manage the entire system, throughout the enterprise. This is extremely important because the quick introduction of changes allows for the effective adaptation of production – such aspects were not thought about 15 years ago, when systems were designed over a 10-year perspective. As you can see, the entire methodology of designing industrial plants and logistics centers has to change. Things that were moderately complex until now require an enormous amount of knowledge and experience. That is why we try to pay so much attention to deep optimization of systems already at the early stages of projects and full integration of solutions during implementation. Hence the great interdisciplinarity in our project teams.
You attach great importance to searching for economically attractive regions of Poland using the original research method. Which region is currently characterized by the greatest development potential and why?
This is a very difficult question because many regions can be such identified both in Poland and throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The entire location scouting process is tailor-made for a given client, and additionally, each industry can find itself in a different region. In our analyzes, we take into account between 160 and even 250 different factors that are together explain why this region will be the best for the client and tailored to his criteria. Coming back to the question – a very attractive macroregion, which I mentioned a few years ago, is Eastern Poland. Many development companies are entering or already doing business in this region. However, a big problem for Eastern Poland may be the lack of opening on the part of Ukraine and Belarus. When this happens, however, we can expect a natural shift of the supply chain centers to the east. To a large extent to the eastern part of our country.
Which of your recent implementations were the most important and most satisfying and why? Perhaps there is a project that has been a unique challenge?
We are very proud of the simultaneous implementation of projects for our clients on three continents – in North America and Asia, and running our business in Europe. Another reason to be proud is the support in the location in Nysa of the first – outside Asia – factory of cathode elements for batteries. I took an active part in this, personally negotiating the terms with our government and the Czech government. It is a unique project for one more reason – Western countries, such as Germany, France and Belgium, were also trying to build this factory. The fact that it has been located in Poland is very ennobling. Another project that gave us great satisfaction is the implementation for the Daimler brand (Mercedes Benz) in the USA. The factory in Alabama was designed entirely by a team from Poland at the request of a German company for its branch in the USA. The project was managed by a German-American team on the client’s side and a Polish-German team on the part of Metroplan. You can read about the intercultural aspects and communication difficulties between teams in the article describing this project on page 34. The tightening of cooperation with Daimler is also a huge success for us. We are currently cooperating on the implementation of 3 other projects around the world. Including the construction of the factory in Jawor.
What are your investment plans at the end of this year and what will be the biggest challenge in 2021?
We are starting a new research and development project. We will try to develop and implement innovative design methods, including automated warehouses, but also automated production plants in an integrated way using innovative tools. This is our perspective for the next two years. We have developed a research method and we organize financing. We hope to present a completely new product “made by Metroplan” soon.
Finally, a question about your forecast for the industry in these uncertain times. What solutions and technologies should companies use in the coming years to remain competitive and at the same time minimize losses caused by the pandemic?
My advice is to focus on solutions and technologies tailored to your needs: do not follow the broad front, do not look at our neighbor and do not copy his solutions. Wonder what will be best for you. Calculate and analyze as well as use tailor-made solutions. Anyone can spend money, but this is not the point these days.
- Place of birth: Jawor, where the newest Daimler factory is being built, in which we take an active part, which I am particularly proud of
- Cuisine: Thai
- Book: “Sapiens. From Animals to Gods” by Yuval Noah Harari
- Hobby: sports and filming trips
- Dream vacation: on Mars, and more down-to-earth is a yacht cruise near Martinique
- Music: plays a special role in my life. From the classics I would choose Bethoven, from the more popular Joe Cocker or Metallica
Last Updated on November 5, 2020 by Łukasz