The intersectoral machine-building complex unites enterprises and production of mechanical engineering and metalworking (and in the conditions of Belarus includes metallurgy), aimed at meeting the needs of the national economy in the means of production, tools, and long-term consumption items. Since 1975, in terms of gross output, the cost of fixed production assets and the number of employees, this complex has steadily occupied the first place in the industry of Belarus. In terms of growth rates, mechanical engineering has always been ahead of other sectors of the economy and industry as a whole. Such development was facilitated by the favorable economic and geographical position of the republic, the availability of qualified personnel, scientific, design and design bases.
Mechanical engineering and metalworking. The deep socio-economic crisis that engulfed the economy of Belarus in connection with the collapse of the USSR in 1991 led to a sharp reduction in the pace of development of mechanical engineering. In 1991-1995, the average annual growth index of the total gross volume of engineering output became negative (-7.3%), and in 1996-2000 it was already – 14.6% (Table 8.4). The following factors played a decisive role in reducing the volume of production of machine-building enterprises:
reduction of supplies of material and raw materials and energy resources to the republic; strengthening the tax press; financial and credit constraints.
These factors had a different impact on the dynamics of the pace of development of individual branches of the machine-building complex. A noticeable decrease in production had, first of all, the branches of automotive engineering, machine tool building and tool industries. The main reason for this was the pricing policy. Enterprises of these industries, which produced final products, had a large increase in production costs due to an increase in material costs and a decrease in the purchasing power of consumers of products. As a result, there was a forced reduction in production. However, the enterprises managed to keep the sales markets in the CIS countries due to the monopoly position and relatively high quality characteristics of the products.
Mechanical engineering has a number of features, the main of which are:
a fairly developed intra-industry structure; a large share of high-tech and high-tech production, the products of which can be widely supplied to the world market; availability of metal-intensive production, the products of which are mainly exported outside the republic; insufficient development of detailed specialization, which causes a significant dependence of Belarus on the supply of components, parts from other states; relatively weak level of development of production of high-tech equipment for those industries that have their own raw material base (food, light, construction materials industry); non-compliance of the profile of produced trucks with their own needs (65% of cars are exported outside Belarus, only 6% of Zhodino BelAZ remain in the republic).
Therefore, the main direction of development of mechanical engineering in Belarus at present is the improvement, first of all, of its sectoral structure. For mechanical engineering, high-tech industries remain a priority: instrumentation, optical-mechanical, electronics, radio electronics, computer engineering and communications. It is assumed that these industries will help to move to flexible automated systems, will be able to provide the necessary progressive replacement of existing (old) technologies in the manufacturing industry, etc.
The priority industries include machine tool building, since it is the main carrier of the latest technologies in mechanical engineering. Now there is a reconstruction, re-profiling of the largest production associations of the industry, the level of industry specialization and concentration of machine-building production is increasing. For example, over the past five years, enterprises of the radio-electronic industry have mastered a wide range of metering devices, energy consumption control, developed an industry program for the creation of energy-saving, lighting and electronic control equipment, continue to expand the range and increase the production of medical equipment. In accordance with the program of structural restructuring of the industry, PA “Horizont” and PA “Vityaz” formed an infrastructure complex of television production. Today, Belarus has the opportunity to produce more than 1.5 million TVs a year, most of which go to the foreign market.
The purpose of the industry is the maximum possible expansion of exports, rationalization of imports, active attraction of foreign investments to Belarus. Increasing export supplies is possible with the intensification of development and assimilation of fundamentally new types of products and new markets. Reduction in import volumes can be achieved by organizing appropriate import-substituting industries in the republic.
Modern mechanical engineering in Belarus is characterized by a diversified structure, which includes automotive, machine-tool building, tool, electrical, electronic industry, shipbuilding, radio industry, etc.
The automotive industry in Belarus began to develop in 1944, this was facilitated by the favorable economic and geographical position of the republic in relation to raw material bases and areas of sale of products, the provision of highly qualified labor resources. In the automotive industry, specialization and cooperation have been widely developed. Component parts for the industry are supplied by 600 enterprises of the CIS countries. There are related enterprises in Minsk (they produce springs), in Grodno (brake equipment, shock absorbers, cardan shafts), Borisov (starters, power steering), Osipovichi (casting, cabins), Zhodino (large-sized casting, forgings). In 1975, the Belarusian Association for the Production of Heavy Trucks (BelavtoMAZ) was formed. At the beginning of 1990, it had 12 enterprises. This is one of the largest (in terms of the number of employees and production volume) associations in Belarus, one of the leading in the CIS and Europe. Produces more than 30 modifications of cars. Together with the main products, the association produces up to 30 types of consumer goods, including Zubrenok truck trailers for passenger cars.
In 1958, in Zhodino, on the basis of a peat engineering plant, BelAZ began to work – a plant for the production of giant cars that are used in quarries, open-pit mining, construction of hydroelectric power plants, and the performance of large volumes of earthworks. This is the only specialized enterprise in the CIS for the production of high-capacity dump trucks.
In 1966, an automobile plant was opened in Mogilev. It produces self-propelled scrapers, mounted tractors, road trains-ore carriers, dump trucks. There are also specialized enterprises in Belarus that supply automobile plants with components, equipment, units. They are located in Osipovichi, Baranovichi, Borisov, Grodno.
Thus, in Belarus, at one time, the production of trucks was widely developed, but in modern conditions the profile of these machines does not correspond to the needs of the country. Therefore, the main task today is the respecialization of automobile plants, the successful implementation of which will largely preserve its innovative potential. Further development of the industry is largely due to the attraction of foreign investment, new technologies and methods of their management. An example of this is the Minsk Automobile Plant, where the Belarusian-German enterprise MAZ-MAN was created. It produces highly mobile trucks with a total carrying capacity of 13 to 33 tons, it is also planned to organize mass production of buses for various purposes (suburban, tourist, etc.).
The machine-tool and tool industry of Belarus is a large industrial and technical complex for the production of metal-cutting machines, automatic lines, metalworking tools, technological tooling, equipment for foundry, hydraulic equipment and other products for general machine-building purposes.
The industry began to develop in the years of industrialization, when the first 10 lathes were produced at the Minsk metalworking plant “Energia” (now minsk machine-tool plant) in 1927. Already in 1985, a significant part of the products of the machine tool industry (about 30%) was competitive in the foreign market. However, the demand for certain types of machine tools in the current market conditions has decreased, which requires changes in the industry structure of the machine tool industry. Today, the main directions of development of the industry are the expansion of the production of numerically controlled machine tools, flexible automated systems, industrial robots and robotic complexes.
The instrument-making, radio-electronic and electrical industries are the youngest, most promising and quite dynamic branch of mechanical engineering in Belarus. It is characterized by a rapid change in the range of products, the predominance of the release of small series. Enterprises provide a variety of products: electronic and computer machines, automation equipment, mechanical and electronic clocks, optics, cameras, slide projectors, various measuring instruments, radios and televisions, lighting fixtures, refrigerators, electric motors, numerous electrical appliances. Most of them correspond to foreign analogues, and in some cases surpass them. Thus, Belarusian refrigerators (Minsk) have 7 elements of comfort, while analogues of the Japanese company “Toshiba” and the Italian “Ichnis” have 5 elements each, and the French “Liebcher” and the German “Bauknecht” – 4 each. Minsk refrigerators have a lower specific material intensity, electricity consumption is also much less than that of the products of the above-mentioned foreign companies. The electronics industry specializes in the production of semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, resistors, technical equipment for the manufacture of semiconductor devices and integrated circuits.
These sub-sectors of mechanical engineering have a large share of consumer goods, most closely correspond to modern complex conditions for the development of the economy of Belarus: they are guided by the use of qualified personnel and the scientific and technical potential of the country; are characterized by low metal and energy intensity; work relatively stably and have good opportunities for export. The standards in force in instrumentation for electronic products and the electrical industry meet international requirements by about 70–80%. Enterprises of these industries are located in Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev and other industrial centers. Many types of products of these industries are exported outside Belarus.
Shipbuilding is the oldest branch of industry. Its foundations were laid in Belarus in the pre-Soviet period. Specializes in the production and repair of river ships, hydrofoils, screw and water-measuring motor ships-tugs, non-self-propelled barges, motor boats.
In the pre-war period, river vessels were only repaired in the republic, now they are being built: in Vitebsk – cargo-passenger and water-measuring boats, Bobruisk – river trams, Gomel – pushers and hydrofoil boats, non-self-propelled vessels on the shipyards of Pinsk, Rechitsa, Narovlya, Petrikov.
In the structure of mechanical engineering there are also such branches as mechanical engineering for the peat mining industry (Gomel), construction and municipal engineering (Mogilev, Volkovysk), mechanical engineering for food, light, household industries (Baranovichi, Orsha, Brest, Grodno).
Geographically, the mechanical engineering of the republic is concentrated in Minsk and the regional centers of Eastern Belarus – Gomel, Vitebsk, Mogilev. This is explained by the historical features of the development of the industry and the fact that almost all the necessary metal for mechanical engineering is supplied from the eastern and southern regions of the CIS and the main part of the products is sent there.
Metallurgy. A new industry for Belarus. Its share in the structure of industry for several decades was 0.5–0.9%, but in 2000 it increased to 3.4%. This is due to the commissioning of new capacities.
Ferrous metallurgy is not only the foundation for the development of mechanical engineering, but also the main supplier of structural products for various sectors of the economy.
In Belarus, ferrous metallurgy is specialized in the production of steel from scrap metal, rolled products, metal cord, nails, wire and other metal products. Raw materials for enterprises are cast iron and steel billets, local and imported scrap metal. Belarus annually uses about 3.5 million tons of ferrous metals. More than 90% of the cast iron and steel castings that Belarus uses are produced in the foundries of machine-building and metalworking enterprises on the basis of processing of cast iron ingot imported from outside the republic, and partly from its own scrap metal.
In 1984, a metallurgical plant was built in Zhlobin in order to process scrap metal reserves. This is a mini-plant, the advantage of which over the plant of the full metallurgical cycle is that the costs of its construction are relatively low, the very short period of construction itself (15-25 months), low production costs, a fairly simple technology. The design capacity of the Zhlobin Metallurgical Plant is about 700 thousand tons per year, including 500 thousand tons of rolled products and 200 thousand tons of cast blanks. Belarus almost fully meets its needs in small and medium-sized products, and the tire industry – in metal cord. Mogilev Metallurgical Plant focuses its further development on the production of cast iron and steel pipes, technical meal, consumer goods, etc. Rechitsa Hardware Plant produces nails and wire. Steel is smelted by foundries of machine-building and some other plants.
Despite the fact that Belarus had to import a large amount of ferrous metals for the needs of mechanical engineering, part of the products of ferrous metallurgy, especially high-quality metal, was exported abroad, and metal cord about 80% is now exported.
Non-ferrous metallurgy. The largest part of the total volume of non-ferrous metallurgy falls on the production of aluminum. There is a plant for the secondary processing of non-ferrous metals in Minsk.
The development of powder metallurgy in Belarus is associated with the development of new technology, the production of the most modern machines and mechanisms, increasing the requirements for their performance, which requires the use of the newest materials. The development and production of these materials is engaged in powder metallurgy. Powder metallurgy makes it possible to:
to manufacture parts of the relevant parameters, which significantly increases the coefficient of material utilization (up to 0.95–0.98 against 0.5–0.6 during machining). At the same time, the production process is simplified and the labor intensity of manufacturing parts is reduced by reducing the number of technological operations to 4-6 instead of 40-50 during machining; increase the degree of mechanization and automation of production
water; use cheaper and less scarce materials and get products from them with the necessary parameters; create fundamentally new materials with such properties that cannot be provided by any other means (materials operating in conditions of high temperatures, aggressive environment, etc.); significantly save money, increase labor productivity several times.
However, in terms of the level of industrial use of powder metallurgy methods, Belarus in Soviet times lagged far behind the advanced countries of the world. For example, in 1984 in the United States, the volume of production of parts from powder was
117.5 thousand tons, in Belarus – 1.1 thousand tons (in the USSR as a whole – 35 thousand tons).
Currently, there are 12 production sites of powder metallurgy in Belarus, 5 of them provide almost 70% of its total production. They are located mainly in Minsk. There is a specialized Molodechno powder metallurgy plant. The main consumer of powder metallurgy products is the automotive industry.
So far, the metallurgical industry of Belarus is not working efficiently enough: there are not enough raw materials, the technical and technological levels of enterprises are low. The growth rate of production in mechanical engineering – the main consumer of products – is higher. In this regard, directions are being developed to reduce the gap between the capabilities of the metallurgical industry and the needs of the main consumers of its products. Research is expanding in the direction of achieving a balance between the possibility of producing powder products and the demand for them in the national economy.
In the context of the transition to market relations in the machine-building complex of Belarus, a number of disproportions have been revealed. Its sectoral structure, which developed within the framework of the former USSR, was characterized by high material and energy intensity of production. Naturally, it was not focused on market criteria, much less on domestic needs and on its own resources. Therefore, today a serious restructuring and modernization of the material and technical base of the complex is being carried out, measures are being taken to increase the level of automation and mechanization, as well as the efficiency of its specialization: the share of metal-intensive industries is decreasing and the share of precision high-tech engineering is increasing.
The main parameters of the complex:
The number of enterprises included in the machine-building complex, units.
Average annual number of employees, thousand people.
Share in the volume of industrial production, %