|Despite all the urbanization and industrialization processes in the world, effective agriculture is still one of the main prerequisites to successful development of many states. Russia, Norway, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Venezuela—what could these countries’ agricultural sectors have in common? One of the possible answers is the machinery that works on their fields and farms and bears the ‘Belarus’ sign on its metal sides.||
During the last century, farm machinery remained in steady demand all over the world, and neither cruel wars nor financial crises could eliminate the necessity to seed, plow, and harvest. It means that the main goal of any manufacturer of tractors and other farm machines is to evolve not slower than the industry, in the ideal case a bit faster.
This is exactly the goal that Belarusian production association ‘Minsk Tractor Works’ (Minskiy Traktorniy Zavod, or MTZ) is struggling to achieve. Each year it manufactures about 60 thousand agricultural machines, where 20-30% are new, improved models, offering better performance, environment awareness, and value for money.
According to the company’s statistics, its share of the worldwide tractor market during last several years is around 8-10%. This result positions MTZ among the eight biggest manufacturers that account for 96% of the total production.
Minsk Tractor Works was created right after WWII, in 1946 in Belarus (at that time Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic). The first manufacturing line was producing pony motors. First tractors rolled off in the beginning of the 1950’s. By 1958, the factory had delivered its first 100 000 machines.
Later on MTZ had become one of the most important tractor manufacturers in the Soviet Union and received several governmental awards for its great contribution to the agricultural development and innovative tractor models. In 1972, the factory celebrated its millionth tractor whose life proved to be much longer than the engineers planned. Twelve years later this number has been doubled.
The life of the works after 1991 was not easy, yet the MTZ’s spokesperson characterizes the fall of the USSR as an evolutionary step and a new beginning.
Although the worldwide demand for agricultural machinery significantly decreased in the late 1990’s, the share of MTZ on both domestic and foreign markets remained intact. In 1999, Minsk Tractor Works accounted for more than half of all the tractors produced in the CEE countries.
Recovery after the next crisis, the one of 2009, was more difficult, as the main sales areas such as Russian Federation and Ukraine were hit pretty hard. That made MTZ go beyond the usual borders, pushing export to other CEE countries, as well as Mongolia and Cyprus. This strategy of diversifying the risks proved the best in the situation of economical instability and highly competitive market.
Going back to the millionth tractor rolled off the manufacturing line in 1972 and its surprisingly long life. In 2004, this machine with model number MTZ-52 was completely repaired. From the actual tractor there remained only the hull, while all the components were changed. This was also a challenge for the manufacturing engineers, as all of these components were long since discontinued. Now the renovated machine is a symbol of the long history of MTZ.
As a result of more than 60 years of research and development, today MTZ has a wide and diverse range of products that even includes park benches and carpenter’s hammers. But of course the main focus of the works is tractors with engines from 9 to 355 HP. At the moment, the manufacturer delivers more than 60 models.
According to the MTZ’s spokesperson, most of the production is being exported to the Russian Federation. On this highly competitive market big players rival not only in terms of production range, but also in terms of service, both warranty and post-warranty.
Customers in the other CEE countries, such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova are also among the biggest importers of MTZ’s production. During the first 11 months of 2011, the volume of shipments of ‘Belarus’ tractors to the CEE increased by 129% compared to the same period of 2010.
As for Africa and South America, clients from there are usually interested in simpler machinery with frame cabins, which can be explained by the extremely warm climate. In 2011, only customers from Venezuela spent about $24 millions on MTZ’s tractors.
Western European customers are the ones with the most strict requirements. First of all, they care about environment safety, buying the machines certified as complying with Tier 3B standard. MTZ’s machines are working in Baltic countries, as well as Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Norway, and Serbia. Since 2010, the latter country is home for an MTZ’s assembly plant.
Also, MTZ is working with Asian countries, such as Pakistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and China, where assembly plants are also being created.
One of the main achievements that MTZ can be proud of is its huge network of assembly lines created at industrial plants all over the world. The production association itself consists of 11 plants and factories in Belarus and has also more than 20 assembly partners in different countries.
In the CEE countries, ‘Belarus’ tractors are being assembled in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. As in the Russian Federation there are a lot of MTZ’s customers, assembly lines in this country can be found in six cities.
Also, assembly plants make logistics for farther countries much simpler. The machinery for the Western Europe is being assembled in Romania, Poland, and Serbia; African clients may get their tractors delivered by factories in Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Venezuela is the strategic partner of MTZ in the South America, while the production for Asian countries roll off the lines in China.
Although Minsk Tractor Works has long since become a part of a production association with the same name, the MTZ itself is still the main manufacturing hub there. At the moment, the plant employs more than 22,2 thousand people.
The works’ top-management values young aspiring specialists as the main asset of the company. That’s why in 2011 the company launched a special program, which goal is to attract more of the new generation skilled workers and managers. Among the measures are premiums for young families and those who’s going to have a child, encouragement measures for studying employees, special mortgage terms, and so on.
MTZ is the only company in Belarus that has its own certification system for industrial and office workers, which functions flawlessly since 2007. That allows MTZ to keep the pace of the market and the industry in terms of development of technical and marketing solutions.
Among the next steps that MTZ is going to make is establishment of new assembly plants all over the world. Probably, a new manufacturing line will be launched soon in Tajikistan, while the existent assembly partners are going to broaden their production range. The company pays particular attention to extremely powerful tractors of more than 300 HP, which may lead the ‘Belarus’ trademark to new markets and records.
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