Wireless electronics manufacturing expands

  • 2000-08-17
  • Jaclyn M. Sindrich
Finnish company Elcoteq to start production in second plant next January

TALLINN - Elcoteq, a leading Finnish-based provider of electronics manufacturing services in Europe, announced it will begin production in a second Tallinn plant during the first quarter of next year.

The plant will manufacture products for wireless telecommunications for its clients, which include mobile market giants Nokia and Ericsson, said Ilmar Petersen, general manager of the Tallinn plant.

While the current facility produces mainly handsets - the mobile phones themselves - the new unit will specialize in infrastructure products, the basic electronics for the networks which allow mobile phones to make calls and transmit information.

Elcoteq's net sales were 752.5 million euros in 1999, 8 percent of which came from infrastructure products for wireless communications. Wireless products altogether totaled approximately 83 percent of the company's sales.

The second factory, to be built half a kilometer from the existing mobile phone plant, will cover 6,300 square meters in area and employ about 1,000 workers when it reaches full capacity. Elcoteq's present plant, which opened in Tallinn in 1993, has 3,150 employees. It is the company's largest of 11 international locations.

Hanna Kiiskinen, communications officer at the company's corporate office in Helsinki, said the new facility is being added because of the current plant's encouraging performance and quality workforce amidst the exploding wireless market.

"One important reason we are building this plant," she said, "is that I think we are getting excellent employees in Tallinn. Our customers trust the Tallinn plant; they've already established good relations."

But Elcoteq plans to recruit a still-higher caliber staff. Of the 3,150 employees at the current plant, just 450 hold university degrees.

In May, the company signed a cooperation agreement with Tallinn Technical University, and a second cooperation will begin with the University of Tartu in September. Petersen explained that the teamwork will enable them to "open channels and exchange information to see what our needs are."

Elcoteq employees will travel to the universities to lecture students on modern technology and production, with the intention of giving professors and students a better sense of the industry's demands. Students will also be invited into the factories, where workers will show them around and get them excited about the company's operations - and, no doubt, about the future possibilities of working there.

"We want to get those with special expertise. We need this kind of personnel," Kiiskinen said.

Elcoteq will invest up to 5 million euros in the productions at the new plant, Petersen said. But after it is up and running, he predicted that the city's current boom in electronics manufacturing would begin to level out. Meanwhile, the company plans to expand its production capacities in Mexico, Hungary, Poland and China, he said.