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Zoran Milutinović, Director, Comel

The New Shine Of Traditional Brand

Comel was established in 1990, and since 2015 it has been continuing the long-standing tradition of manufacturing and overhauling power transformers under the Minel Transformers brand. For Comel, this acquisition marked the opening of new business horizons

Many years of experience and impeccable technical expertise in the production and overhaul of transformers have secured us a leading position among partners and customers around the world. We are proud that we managed to save that precious brand ~ says Comel CEO Zoran Milutinović.

Comel doo Belgrade has decades of tradition in electrical equipment, but it has also continued the tradition of the internationally-known Minel Transformers brand. How did that happen?

– Comel was founded in 1990, and in the beginning it was only engaged in the sale of products and the provision of services in the power industry.

Through responsible behavior in the entire business and company values oriented towards the fulfillment of sustainable development goals, we have achieved successful cooperation with many global corporations over several decades. This tells of the wide selection of products that we were able to offer our clients at any time.

Our story with power transformers began in 2013 through cooperation with the local Minel Transformers factory, which has been known as one of the world leaders in its field since 1960. They managed to continue production and successfully deliver their products even during the conflict of the 90s, but in 2015, after a long and difficult period, Minel was forced into bankruptcy. The once busy production facilities fell silent after more than half a century of continuous work, the machines stopped, and the factory was about to close…

Nevertheless, efforts to maintain production by our company and the factory managers paid off. Comel signed a contract on production cooperation, which made it possible to restart the plant in bankruptcy proceedings. That year, we took over the complete production programme, equipment, technology and expert staff of Minel transformers.

After that, our real struggle began to maintain the domestic brand and restore confidence in the continuation of the long-standing tradition.

The experience and impeccable technical expertise in the production and overhaul of power transformers has provided Minel with a leading position among partners and customers around the world, and we have managed to save that precious brand. In December 2020, with the end of bankruptcy and the final purchase, Minel continued life as Comel Transformers.

Was the return to the market difficult or easier than you expected?

– With a complete team of experts, workers and management, production continued where it left off. Comel Transformers is proud to continue delivering reliable products and creating engineering solutions that meet the challenges of current and future business. We are proud of the tradition of guaranteed quality, but our goal is to introduce innovations in technological processes, compliance with EU directives and monitoring new trends in pollution reduction and environmental protection.

We managed to save a precious Serbian brand that came out of a period of stagnation as Comel Transformers

For Comel, this acquisition marked the opening of new business horizons, because the production of energy transformers opened a completely different dimension to our business. We worked intensively on relations with foreign customers and the return of the factory to the world market.

Why do you see December 2020 as a turning point?

– After a five-year period of business in difficult conditions due to bankruptcy proceedings, most of the production was stabilised and the Minel brand fully became the part of the production of the company Comel Transformers. After the official purchase of the factory in December 2020, we started investing in infrastructure, equipment and the development of modern production processes.

Our team was joined by new experts and managers who were brought in to restore the company’s status as a leader on the power transformer market. It was a sign to the entire region and former customers around the world that traditional quality has returned with a new shine. In less than two years, we completed a complete reconstruction of the production hall, replaced the most important machines and installed a selfconsumption solar power plant.

What are you producing today?

– Over the past sixty years, the factory has produced and delivered more than 2,000 new power transformers of various voltage levels. Minel’s transformers have reached the most remote parts of the world, countries of Asia, Africa and the American continent.

Today, our main production line consists of oil transformers for distribution and transmission networks, with nominal voltages up to 220kV and nominal powers up to 250MVA. We design and manufacture all our transformers according to customer requirements, international standards and EU directives. Besides the production of new transformers, overhauls are an important part of our programme. Also, assembling, testing and commissioning at the place of installation are an integral part of our offer and mean we must fulfil all of our customers’ requirements.

You also mentioned overhaul… Is it a particularly important part of your business?

– Transformers are a vital part of any energy system, so it is necessary to ensure reliability and efficiency in their operation even in unforeseen situations. In this sense, we can perform regular maintenance as well as capital repairs of energy transformers of any global manufacturer. Our overhaul team is professionally trained and supported by many years of experience and the necessary resources to service all types of breakdowns on transformers of voltage up to 410 kV and power up to 725 MVA. This part of the programme includes diagnostics and monitoring, preventive and regular maintenance, delivery of spare parts and professional support from our engineers. In our high-voltage laboratory, we can perform all routine, type and special tests for all new transformers and for overhauled ones. In this way we provide our customers with security in terms of the reliability and energy efficiency of our transformers.

Although this year was marked by the economic crisis and the war in Ukraine, Comel managed to realise all its planned projects…

– The economic crisis certainly brought difficulties that we all faced, especially with regard to the procurement of raw materials and equipment. Nevertheless, we have aligned our long-term goals with these challenges and we will go on… Since the beginning of the crisis, apart from projects on the Serbian market, we have implemented solutions for several large projects important for energy networks in Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as three large projects in the EU, more precisely in Latvia and Romania. We think the coming period will be more demanding in terms of adapting to new business conditions, but we are determined in our efforts that fulfilling the sustainable development goals is our most important task.

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