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New Developments at the WZL Nr 1 S.A. Facility: Good Days Ahead

President of the Management Board at WZL1, Marcin Nocuń. Image Credit: WZL1
President of the Management Board at WZL1, Marcin Nocuń. Image Credit: WZL1

All changes and refinements implemented at the WZL No. 1 facility have had an impact on the dynamic development that this entity has been going through. The new systems and operational optimization have both paved the company’s path towards success.

Not only is the WZL Nr 1 S.A. one of the leading European aerospace companies, as it is also one of the key companies gathered within the PGZ Group. Based on the latest technologies and innovative solutions, the facility is rendering services for the Polish military, foreign customers, and in the civil sector. Alongside helicopter-focused maintenance, overhauls, and upgrades involving the Mi platforms (Mi-8, Mi-14, Mi-17, Mi-24) and TW3-117 engine maintenance, the company is continuously expanding its know-how, rendering services such as periodic maintenance of trainer aircraft, manufacturing of composite structures, electrical harnesses, galvanized coatings, measurement systems, mechanical machining, non-destructive testing or painting.

Time Has Come for New Investments

The company’s roots date back to the year 1945. Over 75 years it has been expanding its activities and portfolio. WZL has been acquiring certificates and licenses (such as 9100 rev. D), forming an impressive set of credentials and being a proof of the unmatched quality of the services rendered. The growing prestige and the customer portfolio have both become a development driver for WZL1.

During recent years we have introduced changes and enhancements; not only do they improve the manufacturing capacity, as they also prepare WZL to act as a helicopter maintenance center for the Polish Armed Forces. What is more, we also continuously create jobs, increasing employment at WZL. Only over the last 18 months, we have recruited more than 100 new employees.

said Marcin Nocuń, President of the Management Board at WZL1

WZL Nr 1 S.A. is a dynamically developing business that is implementing more and more new programs and solutions. These, meanwhile have a direct impact on the company’s success. A few years back nobody expected that the company would function also generating record-breaking profit that translates into expansive investment.

In 2019 the company has erected a modern hangar with social amenities, with an area of 5571.37 sq. m. The hangar can be used to carry out the maintenance of 12 helicopters at once. The helicopters may land on a helipad that has been handed off for use a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, knowledgeable staff is manufacturing composite structures at the Dęblin branch.

Image Credit: WZL-1

The number of investments may be surprising, as the list is endless. The company is also in the process of establishing an R&D center responding to innovative development. WZL1 is also successful in winning numerous competitions, implementing multiple projects, all at once. One of those is the National Centre’s For Research and Development “Rapid Path - Space Technologies” competition subsidy-supported suborbital rocket system project. It is aimed at the development of a three-staged rocket for carrying research instrumentation (TRS - Trójstopniowa Rakieta Suborbitalna). The initiative is aimed at the development of technology allowing for correct and safe separation of stages of the suborbital rockets, which would result in the development of the firs Polish launch vehicle capable of placing payload above the Karman line (100 km). WZL1 is acting as the leader, the research is also going to involve the following entities: Military Institute Of Armament Technology (scientific body) and ZPS GAMRAT Sp. z o.o. (manufacturer of the composite fuel). The value of financing received within the scope of sub-action 1.1.1. of the Intelligent Development 2014-2020 Operational Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund is defined as 23,693,412.53 zlotys.

Lean Management

WZL1 also enjoys a high level of involvement on the part of its employees.

In the 21st Century, there is no space available to replicate obsolete company management schemes. We are enhancing our activities constantly, adapting what we do to the ever-changing reality and customer requirements. We are a modern business, with modern ways of thinking.

President of the Management Board at WZL1

Willing to grow, the company needed to implement changes aimed at optimizing and coordination of the processes. This has been made possible through effective use of all of the company resources, with proper appreciation of the role that the employee plays in the process. Hence, a Lean Management scheme has been introduced. It turned out to be a perfect tool for increasing the manufacturing potential and enhancing the functioning of the entity as a whole.

Maintenance of the Mi-8 and Mi-17 platforms has become the first area where relevant steps have been made. Thanks to the involvement of the whole team, the process has become 30% faster. It was standardized, with more efficient means of monitoring also put in place. The results were satisfying and led to a decision to expand the area where Lean Management methodologies have been adopted, including processes, technology, logistics, dismantling of the helicopters, or the engine overhauls. 

Image Credit: WZL1

Further changes have also been introduced alongside the Lean Management programme. New systems have been implemented in different dimensions, namely: split payment; HR/payroll system; contractor assessment system; tangible assets inventory based on barcodes; electronic tools inventory management system. ERP system has also been extended - and this also became an important element of the assets control processes.

Why Invest at WZL1?

All of the enhancements, changes, and investments are aimed at maintaining a strong and stable position that WZL1 enjoys on the domestic and foreign marketplace. The assumption here is important, considering the multiple orders expected by the company over the upcoming years.

Properly trained personnel, professional technical facilities, and the remaining innovations as well are all required to meet the requirements stemming from the programmes involving the WZL1 facility (WISŁA, KRUK, CSAR ZOP, PERKOZ, KONDOR, BSP). WZL1 also acts as the helicopter maintenance centre for the Polish Armed Forces, trainer aircraft maintenance centre, turboshaft engine servicing centre and centre for manufacturing of composite structures. The years of experience that the company has in the domain of repairs and modernization of the helicopters makes WZL1 capable of participating in any helicopter upgrade programs one can imagine.

Image Credit: WZL-1

Negotiating the offset commitments performance agreements with Leonardo MW Ltd and licensing agreements with Leonardo MW Ltd, Thales DMS France SAS, and MES SpA. has also been a major success. The business is to establish maintenance capacity concerning the AW 101 Merlin helicopters expected to be operated by the Polish Navy in the ASW/CSAR role. The company would be acting as an operational support centre for the aforesaid helicopters.

Another important strategic project that would involve WZL1 is the Wisła program - its goal is to acquire a medium-range air/missile defence system along with a net-centric command suite. WZL Nr 1 S.A. is a part of the Wisła program - in the role of composite structures manufacturer. The company has signed a licensing and executive agreement with Lockheed Martin, within the framework of offset commitments, related to the ability to manufacture composite launch container for the PAC-3MSE missiles. A decision has been made to establish a new production hall where the launch containers would be manufactured.

Alongside the activities undertaken with the domestic market in mind, the WZL 1 management is also placing a major emphasis on the developments in the export domain.

We are aware of the meaning that international cooperation has, and of the capabilities resulting on the grounds of this cooperation. WZL Nr 1 S.A. is perfectly prepared, logistics- and HR-wise, to conduct operations on the international market.

Jarosław Gawryś, Director for Marketing and Development at WZL1

WZL1 is working with the global leaders of the aerospace industry, being a part of the supply chains of those businesses as well. Maintaining and developing the activities on the foreign marketplace is one of the primary objectives the company has set for itself, for the upcoming years.

Image Credit: WZL-1

Success at WZL1

Summing it all up, WZL1 has become a leading business within the PGZ Group’s structure - both at the organizational and processes level, as well as within the financial domain, considering the company’s record-breaking income and property value. All of the above entailed intensified activities that the company has undertaken in the domain of CSR.  The company has established strong links and cooperation with Universities and Schools, including the Łódź University of Technology, Salesian Crafts Schools in Łódź, Westerplatte Defenders Complex of Vocational Schools No. 1 in Zdunska Wola, Gen. F. Kleeberg Complex of Vocational Schools No. 1 in Dęblin, Air Force Academy, Polish Naval Academy of the Heroes of Westerplatte and the Łódź University of Social Sciences.

The facility regularly holds company tours for children, the youth, and aviation geeks who all get a unique chance to acquire knowledge on the activities undertaken by the company. WZL1 also supports local volleyball and basketball teams, supporting the competitive spirit in the Łódź region. 

Image Credit: WZL1

 WZL1 has not been indifferent facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the facility started to support the healthcare entities and entities fighting and preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections. WZL1, within the framework of the aforesaid activities, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Voivodeship Office and the Marshall’s Office of the Łódź region. Based on those agreements, WZL1 S.A. has become an assets distribution centre, sharing a warehouse facility for storing medical equipment and materials, including PPE and disinfection agents - all indispensable in fighting the pandemic.

Financial support granted to the hospitals to support the acquisition of medical equipment and support for medical facilities and other entities were equally important. Thanks to the initiative, the Zgierz Voivodeship Specialist Hospital has acquired four ventilators. Another two were procured for the Łódź hospital administrated by the Ministry of Interior and Administration. Other facilities received around 25,000 face masks, protective suits, shoe protectors, safety aprons, and disinfecting agents, worth more than 500,000 zlotys altogether. 

The coronavirus pandemic has been a survival test for most of the facilities, but it is also an opportunity to test the effectiveness of actions during the period when the world and the surrounding circumstances have changed drastically. WZL1 approached this task responsibly and with a high level of energy - which can still be witnessed in the involvement exhibited by the entity until today.   

Article prepared by WZL1 S.A.