Owners of a Zhmerynka-based businesses producing metal goods united in 2019 to enhance the growth capabilities of their enterprises with the support of the International Technical Assistance Project “Partnership for Local Economic Development and Democratic Governance” (PLEDDG). This is how the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster NGO came to be. In late February 2020, under the auspices of Zhmerynka City Hall and PLEDDG, the NGO began implementing an initiative that resulted in the purchase of a sheet-bending hydraulic press. This equipment ideally ensures even bend angles and lines for the metal goods of Zhmerynka business owners. The NGO members developed a model for the shared use of the press, thereby reducing their own production costs and increasing product quality.
Products currently made in the city with the use of the new equipment are particularly interesting. In 2020, Syndicate Company LLC (a member of the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster) won tenders for installation of underground garbage bins in Vinnytsia. Twenty-four (24) innovative garbage bins manufactured as part of orders from city hall have already been installed within the city, with 9 more commissioned by residential developers. The company has also started manufacturing hi-tech garbage bins for other cities: they have already been installed in Ivano-Frankivsk, with plans already made for Ternopil and Kyiv.
“We are the first in Ukraine to manufacture underground garbage bins that are fully autonomous and powered by solar panels. It is an innovative solution that is unequaled in Europe. Our garbage bins are smart structures connected to the Internet. They notify the garbage collection service about the garbage level in containers, thereby signaling when they should be emptied. When the container is full, a special magnetic lock shuts off the garbage receptacle, preventing people from disposing of any more garbage. Solar panels are installed at garbage bin sites: they power garbage bin batteries, magnetic locks, signal systems, the Wi-Fi connection, and lighting.To dispose of garbage, one presses a special foot pedal and places garbage into the opening of the garbage receptacle. Underground, all garbage is stored in sealed containers, which prevents it from leaking into the soil, contaminating the surrounding territory, or releasing odours outside,” says Vitaliy Kabarovskyi, Leader of the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster and Director, Syndicate Company LLC.
Syndicate Company installed 3 to 6 garbage bins at every garbage bin site. Users are expected to sort their garbage, so all of them are fitted out with signs indicating the types of garbage: wet, dry, or plastic garbage. Wet garbage is currently taken to a landfill in Vinnytsia, while dry garbage is sent to a garbage sorting station for subsequent recycling.
Syndicate Company uses the sheet-bending press purchased with the assistance of PLEDDG to manufacture metal garbage containers, which form the upper portion of the garbage bin site visible to city residents. The company also uses the press to make parts for outdoor exercise machines and children’s playgrounds. In addition, the equipment is used by other business owners who joined the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster. For example, one of them manufactures solid-fuel heaters and garden shredders.
“Garden shredders come in handy for people with gardening plots or country cottages or farmers. During the gardening season, they often face the problem of disposal of branches or large weeds. Our equipment takes care of this problem efficiently. Shredders produce wood chippings that can be further used as an organic fertilizer for soil mulching. We are making a high-quality alternative to Chinese shredders: ours work 3 to 4 times faster.We used to spend extra time and money by taking our metal to contractors in Vinnytsia for bending or by using makeshift equipment that failed to produce the accuracy and quality that we have now. In addition to the fact that the press fully meets our production needs, its technical capabilities allow making more hi-tech products in the future,” says Oleh Perepechay, owner of the company producing garden shredders and solid-fuel heaters, and member of the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster.
In the summer of 2020, the Zhmerynka Industrial Cluster organized a practical training session: 15 trainees acquired knowledge and skills essential to operating the sheet-bending hydraulic press. Training was delivered to both cluster members and other business owners working in the metals processing industry, who can potentially become association members. This year the association members tested the effectiveness of the equipment sharing model, so much so that, come spring, they intend to team up on buying equipment for metal laser cutting and pipe bending.
PLEDDG provides all-round support to business associations based on the principles of mutual assistance and enhancing the capacity and influence of their members. Practical experience shows that sectoral associations not only create opportunities for greater production efficiency for business owners, but also develop the economic potential essential to the well-being of the entire region. Implementation of successful approaches to equipment sharing will further contribute to the development of models for collective procurement, selling, or other forms of cooperation that will have a holistic effect on the growth of small and medium-sized businesses in the city and the region.
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