Cable trays from the fully automated production
It’s early morning in Karczew, a Polish town situated next to the Vistula River, 30 kilometers south-east of Warsaw. Tomasz and Kazimierz Sielski are strolling through their production facility. From the outside, there is no indication that this is where robots and people work together to make cable trays for companies all over the world. Kazimierz Sielski, the 59-year-old company founder, still works up to 13 hours a day keeping the business running smoothly, while 34-year-old production engineer Tomasz Sielski handles the export side.
Salzburg station, Mexican Lego factory
The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 marked the end of Poland’s state-run command economy and the shift to a free market economy with a global reach. Business boomed for BAKS, and production has increased even more rapidly since the turn of the millennium. Today, the company employs 550 people and supplies over 27,000 products including cable management and installation solutions for industry, infrastructure and housebuilding.
BAKS has customers all around the world. Cable trays made in Karczew – a modest town of just 10,000 inhabitants – can be found in a Salzburg railway station, at Airbus in Toulouse, in a Lego factory in Mexico and in a hospital in Qatar. The company’s German customers include Daimler and Porsche, and BAKS products have also been adopted by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer. BAKS cable management solutions are also present in some of Warsaw’s most emblematic infrastructure, including the National Stadium, Warsaw Chopin Airport and the city’s subway tunnels.
The company’s fully automated production plant contains a few dozen machines, including laser and punching machines, press brakes and automated storage systems that are connected to the machines. There are also 38 TRUMPF systems working in two shifts. The latest acquisition is a TruLaser 5030 laser cutting system. The Sielskis chose it for its high cutting speed – because at BAKS, speed is of the essence. The cable containment professionals can deliver large batches of certain products from their extensive catalog in just one week – the perfect recipe for satisfied customers.
Over the years, Kazimierz Sielski has been consistently impressed by the reliability of TRUMPF machines and the high quality of the products. “TRUMPF machines are one of the keys to our success. I bought my first TRUMPF system – a Trumatic 235 – in 1999, and we’ve added a new one almost every year since then,” he says.
Solidarity fuels progress
Kazimierz’s entrepreneurial drive resembles a Polish version of the American dream. “I found myself wondering if I could build a company that would create work for lots of people!” he says. Working as an electrician in 1986, he noticed power cables dangling dangerously from the ceiling in many factories. It was immediately clear to Sielski that these cables needed to be contained – and so the idea of producing and selling cable trays was born.
Of course that was easier said than done. The Polish People’s Republic was still under the rule of socialism. Yet Poland was also undergoing a profound transformation. Sielski’s first job was to get enough money together to buy his first machine so he could set up a new company. Poland was changing fast, especially Warsaw. Small businesses were springing up everywhere, and they needed shelving systems to sell their goods at weekly markets. Steel was a scarce commodity in Poland at the time, so Sielski started buying scrap strip steel from factories and using it to make shelves. Eventually he had sold enough shelving units to enable him to buy his very first machine thirty years ago.
In 1989, the revolution inspired by the independent workers’ movement Solidarity led to the end of communist rule in Poland. This political upheaval fueled tremendous progress throughout the country, and BAKS was no exception. Starting in 1999, the company gradually shifted its production operations to TRUMPF machines. The 2004 enlargement of the European Union, which incorporated members of the former Eastern Bloc, presented BAKS with a wealth of new opportunities. The company took full advantage by investing in new machines, employing new workers and modernizing its production facilities.
Ready for the future
Together with his father, Tomasz Sielski is working hard to ensure the family-run company has a successful future. As well as handling the export business, he is also responsible for getting their production facilities ready for digitalization. The first steps are already underway, including the introduction of an ERP system that connects up all the company’s production processes. BAKS also pushes innovation through to its customers, for example with its BAKSCAD software that allows customers to download and redesign cable tray models. The company is currently setting up a database of 3D models for its most popular products, and it has also taken the bold step of making all its cable tray models available to everyone on an open source basis. This is a win-win situation, with BAKS tapping into its customers’ ideas to develop new solutions.
Asked how BAKS comes up with new products, Tomasz Sielski smiles and says: “The development department – which basically consists of me and my dad!” The bond between them is evident when they chat about their investments and plans for the future. Their constant readiness to change with the times has paid off. BAKS has steadily evolved into a renowned and respected specialist in its field. One key advantage was the company’s determination to see potential obstacles as opportunities for progress. Now, Tomasz Sielski is writing the next chapter in the company’s success story – and preparing to face whatever challenges the future holds.