Lithuania has long been a strong partner of Germany. The Baltic country offers German companies such as Continental, Rehau, Schmitz Cargobull, Bär Cargolift the best conditions. What have these companies achieved in Lithuania and why did they decide to invest in the country?

Schmitz Cargobull paved the way for other German companies

Das für Schmitz Cargobull-Foto bei: Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock.com.
Schmitz Cargobull | Photo by Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock.com.

Schmitz Cargobull has been present in Lithuania since 1999. Europe’s leading manufacturer of semi-trailers, trailers and truck bodies for temperature-controlled goods, general cargo and bulk goods took over the Lithuanian manufacturer of similar products AUVIGA at the time and has been active in Lithuania ever since. According to public data, Schmitz now employees over 800 people in its plant in Panevėžys Free Economic Zone (FEZ), where the company is manufacturing insulated trailers, semi-trailers, isothermal panels and etc.

The company back in 2018 started an expansion worth around 27 million Euros. It was planned to build 6 thousand sqm of production facilities. Due to the pandemic, the plan was delayed, but it is still fair to say that Schmitz had a large influence on German-Lithuanian cooperation in manufacturing and engineering sector.

Continental brought the largest ever greenfield investment to Lithuania

Continental, the German automotive parts manufacturer, employs over 350 people in its plant in Kaunas Free Economic Zone (FEZ), Lithuania, which opened its doors back in October of 2019. Nevertheless, although that number is impressive, other milestones reached due to the close cooperation between Lithuanian and Germany are even more significant. Continental’s plant in Kaunas was awarded second place in the Emerging Europe Awards in the Best FDI project category. Moreover, there is significant support from the municipal government, with free public transport routes being coordinated and kindergartens and bicycle lanes are planned for both Continental’s employees and the community.

Continental managed to build its 22,000 square metre premises for production, administration and storage in little over 15 months. As expected, the plant in Kaunas meets all requirements of Industry 4.0, including automated equipment, environmental protection and sustainability.

During its three years of operation, Continental has had such a successful start in Lithuania that the company is now planning to employ 500 more staff by 2025 and double its manufacturing output. Meanwhile, plant size will be increased by 15,000 square meters.

REHAU chose Lithuania because of its skilled workforce

The German plastic giant REHAU is building a new factory together with YIT, a Finnish real estate developer with a strong presence in Lithuania, and local government in the Klaipėda Free Economic Zone (FEZ).

So far, REHAU is planning to employ around 200 people. Indeed, the factory itself will measure over 20,000 square meters. According to REHAU’s, it will be able to produce 9,000 tons of underfloor heating pipes and 20,000 tons of cable ducts. These products were previously manufactured in Austria, however REHAU decided to relocate to Lithuania. The Baltic country was chosen due to its   talented specialists who have a professional attitude and great work ethic. REHAU’s management was also attracted by Lithuania’s streamlined and business-friendly economic environment.

The company is also planning to leave some free space for future development. The plant should be operational in 2022. REHAU emphasizes the quality of work in Lithuania, the culture and education. It’s probably fair to expect more companies moving to Lithuania for similar reasons.

Bär Cargolift’s plant of the future

Built on 3.5 hectares of land, Bär Cargolift’s, which is the second-largest automotive tail-lift manufacturer in Europe, new factory in Lithuania is 9,500 square metres in size. It has an A++ energy efficiency rating and is equipped with a special heating system, which uses less than 15 kWh of energy per year per square metre. Bär Cargolift has also vowed to only purchase electricity from renewable energy sources. Indeed, a significant proportion of such energy will be generated on the plant’s 185 kW solar rooftop.

At present, the facility employs around 40 workers. However, this number is set to gradually increase to 100. Most of these employees are metalworking professionals and equipment operators, while in the future Bär Cargolift plans to establish an IT centre to develop technological and engineering solutions for improving tail lift controls.

What is unique is that the premise has a lot of natural light and lighting that minimises eye strain. Meanwhile, air temperature is maintained by the latest ventilation and circulation systems. The plant has automated folding and laser cutting processes. Besides, five robotic component welding stations in operation.

The new plant in Šiauliai is estimated to reach 7 million euro of turnover by the end of 2022, and potentially 20 million in 2025. The company intends to employ approximately 100 members of staff at the facility.

All in all, Bär Cargolift’s plant is a very welcome addition to Lithuanian engineering sector, as it is definitely the pinnacle of sustainability and Industry 4.0 standards adoption.

Lithuania is becoming an increasingly important partner for German companies

German manufacturers are choosing Lithuania as a destination for investment more often as the country has EU-leading higher education numbers. In fact, Lithuania has a very diverse talent pool, with over 41,500 engineering and 31,500 IT specialists. Plus, more than 40,000 students in these disciplines combined.  Furthermore, Lithuania is ranked 2nd globally by Bloomberg for ‘tertiary efficiency’.

Set against the new industrial revolution, which invites further cooperation between EU member states, the economic relations between Germany and Lithuania are steadily intensifying. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the resumption in diplomatic relations between Germany and Lithuania. Both countries have achieved much during this period. For instance, there are now more than 90 German companies operating in Lithuania, employing over 70,000 staff. We look forward to more cooperation and prosperity in the future.

by Uwe Schmidt

The Baltic Review
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