STA, 8 April 2019 - The Japanese robot manufacturer Yaskawa, the world's leading manufacturer of industrial robots, inaugurated a new robot factory and a European robotics R&D centre in the town of Kočevje (SE) on Monday, two years after construction was launched. The facilities are to employ some 200 people.
The EUR 25m investment has been co-funded by the state, which chipped in EUR 5.6m.
The director of the recently founded Kočevje-based company Yaskawa Europe Robotics, Hubert Kosler, told the press after the opening that the new factory would complement the production capacities in Japan and China, satisfying some 80% of the European market's demand for Motoman robots.
The new factory in Kočevje is expected to produce up to 10,000 industrial robots per year, manufacturing seven types of them. At the moment it employs 50 people and aims to double the number by next year. By 2023, it should employ some 200 people.
The president and executive director of Yaskawa Europe, Bruno Schnekenburger, said that the new facility was Yaskawa's response to the growing demand for industrial robots in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia. The company is thus striving to localise its supply chains and reduce delivery periods.
Yaskawa also believes that the reconstructed railway line between Kočevje and Ljubljana will enable a quicker connection with the Port of Koper. Freight trains should start running on the railway in the coming days, according to the STA's unofficial information.
Addressing the opening, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed satisfaction that the factory is located in an area that was often labelled as undeveloped and neglected part of the country. This sentiment was also echoed by Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.
Šarec prised Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič as well as the previous government, for seeing the project through. He said that Slovenia had good relations with Japan and that these would only improve. "The best ideas are born in cooperation."
Yaskawa Europe regional director Manfred Stern pointed out today that the company's investments in Slovenia as well as recent investments Germany, France, and Sweden were the strategic part of Yaskawa's European initiatives set out in its global corporate goals.
Yaskawa had picked Kočevje as the location of its first facility for industrial robots not only in Europe but also outside Asia. Slovenia will also serve as the distribution nexus point for the robots manufactured in Japan.
The robotics R&D centre will improve the company's cooperation with local faculties and institutes. Yaskawa already cooperates with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Electrical Engineering as well as the Jožef Stefan Institute.
The company first entered Slovenia in 1994 when Yaskawa Electric took over the Germany-based Slovenian company Motoman Robotec. Two years later, it founded a company for robotic cells production Yaskawa Ristro in the town of Ribnica near Kočevje. Yaskawa Slovenija is also situated in Ribnica and manages the company's sales in Slovenia and other markets of the former Yugoslavia.
Stern signed a letter of intent with the Economy Ministry and the Kočevje municipality in May 2018, aiming to launch facilities for the production of electric motors and electronic components, which would create up to 250 jobs.
The investment is estimated to be worth EUR 20-30m, with the production being scheduled to start within two years.