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Petar Miljković, CEO, 14. Oktobar d.o.o.

Employees are the Company’s Real Strength

This former Kruševac giant, which has come a long way over the course of 100 years of operations, developing from a construction machinery factory to a military industry plant, experiencing ups and downs, renovations and new partnerships, now once again finds itself in the company of the most successful

It was seven years ago that company 14. Oktober became part of Czech holding company CSG International, which brought modernisation to production facilities, as well as major investments in equipment and personnel. Thanks to its dedication, top quality, innovation and adaptability, they have sold all products three years in advance.

We know what 14. Oktober once was, but what is it today?

— Our company has been transformed from a construction machinery plant into a multipurpose and military equipment factory.

We have achieved a dramatic turnaround and started working on multiple fronts, and we are extremely proud that we’ve placed an emphasis on our employees. Over the course of just a year, 14. Oktobar went from a company that struggled to find workers to one of the most desirable employers in Kruševac and the surrounding area. We have paid great attention to our working conditions, salaries, the development of personnel and their career plans, introduced lean and kaizen methodologies, and improved communication with employees among managers and team leaders. We carry out constant training courses and invest a lot in the development of people, and we will continue to do so, because people represent the first pillar of our success, while the second pillar is undoubtedly automation and digitalisation.

We will be among the first 10 companies in Serbia to have an Industry 4.0 standard factory, which implies integrating intelligent digital technologies into industrial and production processes. This means that all processes will be digitalised, that all norms, results and current conditions will be instantaneously available to planners and managers, thus managing processes will be made faster and much more efficient. When we add to this the fact that certain modules will be managed by artificial intelligence, you get the picture of where we want to be a year from now.

We carry out constant training courses and invest a lot in the development of people, and we will continue to do so, because people represent the first pillar of our success, while the second pillar is undoubtedly automation and digitalisation.

This also helped us to make an impression on parent company CSG, which was impressed by what we’ve achieved with our pilot project, which will encompass the entire factory and almost all processes in it over the next few months.

It was seven years ago that your factory was acquired by CSG International. What did that bring?

— The mere fact that 14. Oktober entered into a partnership with one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of equipment and weapons testifies to the good potential of our factory, while current results show that we’ve utilised that potential. In January we received the last of 12 CNC lathes, while we’ve also received approval to procure another 14 CNC machines. This investment will have a combined total value exceeding 2.5 million euros, and we hope to realise everything by the end of the year. A new fully automated paint shop was recently made operational, and by year’s end we will be looking for another such machine to be delivered, as well as a machine for washing and phosphating grenade casings.

This will be accompanied by the hiring of new staff, so our team will be enriched with approximately 20 new workers.

The military segment of the factory functions excellently. How about the civilian part?

— The war in Ukraine brought additional work to the arms industry, and that includes our factory. As far as our military part is concerned, all products are sold out three years in advance, but we aren’t neglecting the other segment of our operations. Our civilian part, in which we manufacture wagon parts for a foreign partner, is growing from year to year, and we are awaited by the signing of a contract with a domestic company for which we will produce machine circuits.

We are very proud that we’ve managed to attract 20 welders who possess all the necessary licenses and procure the latest welding machines and an ABB robot, while we are also planning to purchase another. We have some other development projects that we are concluding, while in parallel we’re investing a lot in the development and certification of these guys, who represent the real strength of our company.

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