Eaton is a global technology leader in power management solutions. The company has been present in Romania since 2008, with the acquisition of Moeller Group, and currently has two equipment production centers from where they export worldwide.
Can you briefly introduce what brought Eaton to Romania and your current production capabilities?
Eaton has been present on the Romanian market for over two decades and our presence can be viewed from two angles. From a sales perspective, Romania is a relatively large demand market in Europe and a significant one as far as Eaton’s operations are concerned. At the turn of the millennium hundreds of factories were built, particularly in the Western side of the country. Such growth equals opportunity for us, as we are needed wherever electricity is needed. The second pillar of our presence here is as a producer with a total of three factories, two in Baia Mare and one in Arad, counting over 2,000 employees and manufacturing power equipment of which nearly 85% goes to export. The incentive was to leverage the lower production costs and highly skilled labor available.
Our area of expertise is in low voltage power equipment and we have been working actively with energy distributors across Romania to change measurement and control panels, many of which were very old and even dangerous. Our equipment is safe and can be monitored remotely, with the overarching goal of improving energy efficiency.
How do you assess the current regulatory and legislative framework surrounding power equipment, also as relates to individuals’ safety?
This is an area we are actively involved in, and one in which we feel there is a need for all industry stakeholders to collaborate, so as to send a unified message to the authorities. The legislative needs to impose stricter guidelines on the quality of equipment used, to avoid potentially dangerous situations. As an example, we recently launched a project alongside SIEAR (Romania’s Society for Electrical and Automation Equipment) to change the current legislation for electrical equipment, last updated in 2011. In the meantime new equipment has come about, including some with built in fire safety capability, in a context in which nearly half the electricity related fires are caused by equipment faults. We want to raise awareness about such issues and instill a sense of urgency with otherwise slow moving regulatory bodies.
Energy storage is another key topic, for example for the growing renewables sector – what are your capabilities in this area?
We have a business line dedicated to critical solutions, namely uninterrupted power sources (UPS), used by critical consumers such as hospital, banks and many others. Given our numerous patents in the field of energy conversion it was a natural step for us to expand into storage. Renewables were indeed a catalyst for a growing need for adequate storage, in addition to balancing out general network dysfunctions. This is still a new field with many pilot projects currently under way, but we expect it to grow exponentially.
Given your regional perspective on how favorable various business ecosystems are across Europe, how do you think Romania measures up?
Investors have been growing in numbers and business in on an upward trend, but nowhere near its potential. There are of course some challenges and the most pressing one is largely surrounding infrastructure. An example is the automotive businesses, some of which are turning their gaze to Poland and other countries in the region despite Romania’s history in the field.
Another challenge surrounds available labor. Back in 2002 when our factory was the only one on the region we benefitted from the bulk of the local workforce. In the meantime with the development of several other facilities we have noticed growing competition, particularly in the past two-three years, and we too are looking at innovative ways to attract and retain staff.
What role do you foresee Romania will play for Eaton moving forward, and what are some of your priorities for the short to medium term?
At Eaton we run a business of course, and wish to see it develop, but from a quality of life perspective we are committed to playing our part in making people’s lives better and safer. This includes reduced energy consumption through more efficient methods and decreased carbon emission though resource diversification. One of our concepts is Safety Above the Standard initially applicable to fire escape signs, which we are placing great emphasis on, and is especially relevant in a country where electrical equipment is in real need for modernization.
Do you have a final message for investors eyeing the Romanian market?
Romania is one of Eastern Europe’s key jurisdictions, second in size to Poland and benefitting from a diverse mix of resources as well as visible recent growth across many industries. It still holds a highly skilled workforce complemented by a competitive production cost. Renewables are currently an exciting growth industry, with the new decarbonization targets we need to reach, in addition to a generally growing appetite in this segment. Also, Romania is poised to develop into an export market, pending improvements in our infrastructure, yet another segment in need for further investments.
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