140 years of development and innovation

  • 2010-12-01

From Revel workshops to the production of modern equipment of power electronics – such a long way the company ESTEL has come over the last 140 years. All these years the main priority of the company was to improve and develop with the latest technology.
Nikolai Samsonov,
CEO of ESTEL, tells about the achievements and plans of the company.

Tell us a bit about the history of the company.

The main specialization of Chief Revel railway workshops, which were opened in 1870, was repairs of broad- and narrow-gauge locomotives. In 1945, the Tallinn locomotive factory was founded on the basis of these workshops. For several years, the name of the factory varied depending on changes in the type of activities, and only in 1993 the company was named ESTEL (ESTonian ELectrotechnics).

With the advent of the first electric locomotive and afterwards electric trains, the factory started the development and production of electrical equipment. The factory began to produce mercury rectifiers and power transformers, as well as semiconductor devices, on the basis of which the first converters were mastered.

An important milestone in the history of our company is the founding of the Research Institute of electrical engineering.
Since the late ’60s a serial production of power supplies for induction heating for all processes connected with the processing of metals (melting, heating, quenching and forging metal) was set. We have developed and produced a high-voltage synchronous motor drive with a voltage of 6 kV, and in 1974 we developed and mastered a power source for ground handling of aircraft.

What does the factory ESTEL produce nowadays?

Today, the nomenclature is almost the same - converters for rail transport, power semiconductor devices, equipment for induction heating, for the maintenance of airplanes and helicopters, equipment for speed control of various motors. A more detailed description of our products can be found on the company Web site www.estel.ee. The field of the company’s activities includes the development of products to order, production, testing and commissioning on a turnkey basis.

Does the company have serial production?
Our serial product is the equipment for electric locomotives used on Russian railways. In August this year we were visited by an interdepartmental committee, which consisted of leading specialists of the railway companies and institutions in Russia. It had no remarks to our development work, and we signed an act for producing a series of products in the amount of 270 pieces. This is a good amount, which subsequently is planned to be doubled.

To what other countries does the company supply its products?

More than 90% of our deliveries are exports. In addition to the Russian market (it remains an important region for us), we are working with such countries as Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Georgia. In Latvia and Serbia, we conducted a modernization of the electric trains, supplied them with our equipment. Since 2000, we established the supplies of aviation equipment to Cuba, which, incidentally, has proved itself very well there: after a typhoon at the airport everything was flooded, and after drying they found out that only our equipment began to work again. After this case the question where to order products from did not arise anymore for the Cubans. We also sell equipment for induction heating to Poland, there is a unique development for Switzerland, there are supplies to the United States, Germany, Malaysia, Israel, Vietnam. The state supports us within the frameworks of foundation programs for the development of entrepreneurship (EAS). More recently, we received assistance for the development of innovative products and exports.

What are your future plans?

We are the only company in Europe that produces such a wide range of products. Therefore, we will continue to develop in different directions and in different markets, also we are planning to establish a serial delivery to the European region, instead of performing only unique works. In addition, we plan to expand and for this purpose we need highly qualified specialists, especially development engineers. All those who may be interested in vacancies can take a look in our company’s Web site www.estel.ee. The staff is the most important thing in the activities of any company. And it is very important to find a good combination of experienced professionals, who have worked at the factory for years, and young forces.

I congratulate all of our employees, and especially the veterans who have made special contributions to the creation of this unique enterprise, as well as colleagues and partners who continue to cooperate with the factory, with the 140th anniversary!