An expert for all occasions

Lukáš Bartík has all the qualities you’d expect of a good mechanic: an eye for precision and a passion for technology and outstanding products.

There are certain headaches that no factory is immune to: a problem with a machine is holding up the production process. Something isn’t right with an axle that’s already been made. An employee calls in sick at short notice. So you can consider yourself fortunate if you’ve got someone like Lukáš Bartík in your ranks. He is the man for all occasions in the assembly of electric drive axles at Linde Pohony (Lipo) in Český Krumlov, in the far south of the Czech Republic.

In a 2,000 square metre space in hall M1A around three dozen men assemble electric drive axles for the KION Group’s forklift trucks. Almost 28,000 electric drive axles and 18,000 hydrostatic drive axles are delivered annually to truck plants of the KION brand companies Linde and STILL in Germany, China and the USA. Electromobility, the technology of the future, has long been part of everyday life here. Hydrostatic and electric drive axles are at the heart of the Linde and STILL trucks – ensuring their exceptional precision. They provide the basis for the strong position of the KION Group in its home market of Europe and increasingly in the growth markets too.

“Quickly solving problems”

Bartík has worked on all three production lines at Lipo – the assembly fitter has been there since 2007 – and so can be used flexibly wherever his capabilities are needed. “If there’s a problem, I try to solve it as quickly as possible or I find someone who can help,” he says.

“I try to make sure that people are able to do their work and don’t have to worry about anything else.” The engineering enthusiast isn’t daunted by difficulties, quite the opposite in fact: “There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had in sorting out a problem.”

People don’t tend to associate Český Krumlov with cutting-edge industry. In its historical town centre, the narrow lanes and beautiful market square teem with tourists. They take photos of the pretty little baroque and Renaissance houses along the meandering Vltava river, gather in the traditional pubs and visit the medieval castle where they can watch the brown bears that live in the moat. Český Krumlov, known as the pearl of the Bohemian forest, became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. Every year its 14,000 residents are joined by over a million tourists.

Efficiency and precision

But there’s more to Český Krumlov than history and tourism. It’s not even ten minutes’ drive from the bustling old town, up the hill, past the hypermarkets and into Tovární – the factory road. On behalf of the KION Group, Lipo has been making electric drive axles here since 1998 and hydrostatic drive axles since 2010. Visiting Bartík at work after strolling through Krumlov’s centre offers quite a contrast. In this functional building, in which everything is focused on efficiency and precision, the cosiness of the old town seems a world away.

The first plant on the current Lipo site was built before the fall of the Iron Curtain. In the mid-1980s, Jihostroj made turned parts here for the Czech arms industry. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the site produced chassis components for Porsche, before Linde Pohony was founded in April 1997. The company currently has 273 employees.

Fascinated by technology even as a boy

This is Bartík’s world – the abundance of highly technical devices and machinery, the geometrically arranged work­stations, the fitters bustling around and the hum of the forklift trucks. Bartík has been fascinated by machinery and technology since he was a little boy. His father František, a car mechanic by trade, got his two sons interested in engineering at an early age. One now builds motorbikes, the other electric drive axles.

Bartík, who lives just a few miles from the factory with his wife and his husky dog, even found his way to Lipo through his father: “My father was still working here when I started,” he says, smiling. “Ever since I was little we’ve always tinkered around together. So the fact that we were then able to work together was something really special for me.”