Polish specialists in precision mechanics – interview with Anna Ścieszko-Osińska, President of the Management Board of WUZETEM S.A.
Warszawskie Zakłady Mechaniczne WUZETEM has been producing precision steel components for many industries, including the automotive industry, for over 70 years. Recent years seem to be a time of intensive development of the company and its expansion beyond the Polish market. We talk with the President of the Management Board of Warszawskie Zakłady Mechaniczne “PZL-WZM” w Warszawie S.A., Anna Ścieszko-Osińska, about whether this is in fact the case.
The business profile of WUZETEM is difficult to describe in one sentence. You present yourself as a global supplier of precision steel components. What is behind this slogan?
Anna Ścieszko-Osińska: Our company specializes in the production of nozzles, injectors, and plungers used in various types of vehicles, machines and devices. The production of such demanding products in terms of fit and quality requires modern machinery resources, as well as having our own research and development centre and a team of engineers. Our more than 70 years of experience in a wide range of industries – and in addition to automotive industry, we operate in arms, agriculture and heavy industry – has allowed us to build a comprehensive offer. The title of global supplier results directly from our international operations, i.e. the fact that our products are available in 33 countries.
So many years of presence on the market suggest that you have the extensive experience you mentioned. On the other hand, “old” companies often suffer from a tendency to fall into routine and a reluctance to constantly develop. How is it in your case?
We are definitely not at risk of these ailments (laughter). Despite being 70 years old, we are still developing, as evidenced by the fact that we have undertaken significant investments in our machinery and production organization in 2020-21. We then introduced changes at virtually every level – from production planning, through production to trade. We have employed new people in the company with extensive experience in international production and trading companies. This resulted in an almost doubling of production, which translated into a more than doubling of turnover. Currently, 100% of production takes place in our own factory. Today we employ a total of 258 employees and we have absolutely not said the last word on the development of our company yet.
Let’s talk about the sector of your activity that is most interesting to the readers of our website, namely the automotive industry. What do you provide for this industry?
WUZETEM is a valued partner for services dealing with the repair and remanufacturing of injection systems. It specializes in the production of the highest quality nozzles, injectors and plungers. The injector components we produce have been considered durable and reliable for years. WUZETEM’s flagship products are end-pieces for diesel injection systems, i.e. nozzles. We offer both conventional injection systems with a working pressure of up to 230 bar, as well as the most modern systems that meet Euro6 emission standards, with a pressure of up to 3500 bar.
The current trend in the European automotive industry is to minimize the carbon footprint. One of the elements of this strategy is to increase the role of parts remanufacturing. Your company has been associated with this market for a long time.
Yes, WUZETEM is a company that is definitely heading towards the future and wants to build it in accordance with the values of sustainable development, which is the foundation for the Company’s improvement of technologies and processes. We support the remanufacturing sector, which has a positive impact on the broader economy, such as environmental protection and saving raw materials, which uses only 55% of the energy compared to the production of a new unit.
Another benefit is safety, because remanufactured products meet all technical requirements and guarantee quality comparable to original parts. A spare parts company like WUZETEM provides the end user with an optimal choice, offering the best quality at a reasonable price, compared to the original product.
Your market success depends largely on the level of knowledge of the recipients of your products, i.e. workshops dealing with the repair or remanufacturing of injectors. Do you try to substantively support the companies cooperating with you in any way?
Of course, we try to create real development opportunities for the end users, offering them access to technical information as part of the remanufacturing of spare parts. The company is the author of unique technical instructions on how to replace nozzles for all injectors available on the market, in all key language versions.
For years, we have been pushing for parts remanufacturing to be recognized as the preferred form of recycling in official legal documents as soon as possible. It fits closely into our strategy and vision of development, which we briefly call the 3RE Strategy.
What is behind this hermetic term?
Key features of our business, i.e.
– REdefining the direction of business development – opening up to new technologies, products and services, constantly expanding the offer;
– REmanufacturing, embedded in WUZETEM’s DNA, consisting in extending the life cycle of vehicles and other devices, and;
– REducing the impact on the natural environment.
You mentioned the company’s presence in 33 countries. Which export markets are currently the most important for WUZETEM?
A key foreign market for us is the United States, where we began operations back in the 1980s. This is a demanding market with major remanufacturing factories that expect quality and reliability of components. Currently, 43% of our production is addressed to customers in the US, and the company is increasing its share of this market every year.
However, our products are also well known in the European Union markets, where the share in sales is at the level of 8% and here we also record annual growth.
You keep talking about the quality of your products, and as we know, you have to pay for quality. So how are your products positioned on the market? I’m still asking about the automotive industry here.
The quality of WUZETEM products is comparable to original parts for diesel injection systems from brands such as Bosch, Denso, Delphi or Siemens. Remanufactured car parts provide almost the same high quality as new components, but are much cheaper – we estimate that by up to approx. 50%.
The most frequently remanufactured parts include injection systems, which are one of the most expensive components of modern diesel engines. Many factors influence their proper renewal process. The success of remanufacturing of the injection system depends on it being carried out by an experienced service, using the highest quality spare parts. This guarantees its further, failure-free operation. The injector components we produce, including nozzles and plungers, have been recognized as durable and reliable for years.
Is the recent modernization of the machinery resources aimed at transforming your plants into a factory that fits into the idea of Industry 4.0?
Yes, we implement all new solutions in accordance with this idea. The company’s latest investments are part of a long-term strategy aimed at increasing production efficiency, diversifying the offer and increasing the company’s competitiveness. The purchase of equipment such as a machine for applying DLC (diamond-like carbon) coatings, specialized car washes or a precise drilling machine for spray holes has a fundamental impact on the quality of production, which is the most important element in building a competitive advantage
What is this DLC coating? I read that you use it not only in the automotive industry, but also in the aviation and arms industries.
The detailed technological process of applying coatings was designed and implemented specifically for the needs of nozzle needles, which are used to produce the flagship nozzles offered by the company. Before the needle’s surface is coated with a DLC coating, it is precisely ground, which ensures very low roughness.
In the automotive, aviation and other industries, both in the OEM and Aftermarket segments, DLC coatings can be used where parts and individual components are exposed to extreme friction and difficult operating conditions. These also include drive and crankshafts, cylinder heads, valves and their levers, gears, transmissions, hubs, etc.
What does your research and development centre do on a daily basis?
The Research and Development Laboratory allows us to improve products and processes related to their production. All characteristics of details are examined here, on the basis of which construction documentation is developed. This means that the company is constantly expanding its product range with newer designs in line with market expectations. Thanks to this, the plant is able to produce any precision steel elements for use in any vehicles, machines or devices. Finished products are verified during the production process – the laboratory is equipped with two test tables for testing CR injectors – Eragon EDX611D and Hartridge Saber Expert, and a test table for testing unit injectors – Cambox. The department also has specialized microscopes and pneumatic measuring instruments.
The structure and functioning of the Development, Research and Construction Department at WUZETEM allows the company to flexibly respond to changes and offer the product that the customer needs. This strengthens the company’s position, also in the international arena.
What are the company’s plans for the near and distant future? After all, we live in declining times for the use of injection systems or, more broadly, combustion engines in the automotive industry.
Contrary to appearances, combustion engines still have a long development perspective ahead of them, especially in the truck and specialist vehicle sector, where a significant part of our production is sent. Electrical systems still have limitations that will take many years, perhaps decades, to overcome. In addition, we mentioned the remanufacturing market, which is key for us. I have no doubt that even after the ban on the production of new passenger cars with combustion engines is introduced, those already in operation will remain on the roads for many years to come, and the injection systems operating in them will require maintenance and repairs. According to Persistence Market Research data, in the years 2018-2026 the global car parts remanufacturing market will reach a CAGR of 7.1%, which corresponds to almost USD 91 billion. As the results of the latest Otomoto study show, owners of cars that are several years old are increasingly willing to buy remanufactured components. They provide almost identical quality to new components, and are much cheaper.
Our plans include absolutely no withdrawal from the automotive industry and focusing on the other industries in which we operate. On the contrary, every year we introduce several dozen new products that are used in subsequent vehicle models.
Speaking of other sectors of your activity, it is impossible to ignore the arms industry, whose role in the context of events in Ukraine has become significantly more important. As a Polish company, you probably cooperate closely with the Polish Armed Forces.
Yes, this cooperation has been going on for a long time, but it cannot be denied that due to the events beyond our eastern border, it has recently been intensified. WUZETEM is ready to fulfil orders of the Armed Forces in the field of precision mechanics. This includes, among others: fuel injectors for tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, manufactured using DLC technology on nozzle needles. We also supply precise components for drones, elements of guidance heads and rocket fuses. Among the universities we cooperate with is the Military University of Technology, which helps us introduce improvements to the products we supply to the national defence sector.
An interesting fact for readers may be the fact that our company received a license from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration to conduct business activities in the field of production and trade in explosives, weapons, ammunition and products and technology for military or police purposes. This opened up new opportunities for WUZETEM.