Lost industries. Factory STRAUME 4.cehs
As part of the cycle of events "Lost Industry", the 4th workshop of the factory "Straume" was visited, which was shown to us by its long-term manager Dailis Kaparšmits. The territory of the factory at 77 Brīvības Street was walked together, getting to know the premises and recording their current condition, as well as finding out the history of the workshop.
In 1965, the 4th workshop of the Straume factory was established in Gulbene, receiving two territories with premises unsuitable for industrial production. The production and living premises were reconstructed every year. New buildings were built gradually.
The 4th stage of “Straumes” consisted of two territories - 77 Brīvības Street (District 15), where various types of assembly were mainly performed, and District 16 in Svelberg, where there was a foundry.
Due to the possibility to obtain higher education, D. Kaparšmits settled in Gulbene and in 1967 started working in the 4th workshop of "Straumes" as a technician-electrician. He was later replaced as Deputy Energy Director and became Director in 1974 - until production was discontinued.
According to the 1967 nomenclature, around 25-30 different units were produced. In Svelberg, cast iron products were cast, kitchen boxes were produced, while at Brīvības Street 77, flashlights, mailboxes for apartment buildings, lattice cages for canaries, various types of hinges for windows and doors, as well as many things, such as bottle openers, were produced.
D. Kaparšmits: “Production of electric irons started later - around 1970/1971. We had the task to start the production of irons - we no longer cast iron, but we have already started casting non-ferrous metals - iron feet, soles, stamping all kinds of surfaces, chrome plating and nickel plating. ”
The maximum amount that could be produced in the electric iron assembly section of the Straume 4th plant was less than 50,000 per month, which means an average of 1,200 to 1,300 irons per day. There were cases when as many as 2,000 irons were produced per day. Only less than 10% remained in Latvia, the rest were exported to the Soviet Union, including the socialist countries - Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. Electric irons were the most popular products of the 4th creek.
In 1980, construction took place at 77 Brīvības Street (District 15) - on the second floor of one building, production facilities were built to expand the production line for electric irons. The reconstruction of the production premises in the 16th district in Svelberg has been completed, and in the near future it is planned to equip the administrative premises, the red corner and the canteen.
Efforts have been made to improve production technologies, strictly control the performance of each worker, thus reducing the number of defects. Those who did not allow defects in the work were given the title of excellent quality.
Although the company was one of the top runners, the quality label was not so easy to get - there was not even a single product with this pentagon.
Complaints have also been received, mainly due to the fragile handles of the iron. Then their design was improved and the technological process of production was partially improved.
The company has introduced the Tolyatti method, which means that all members of the team were equally responsible for the end result of the work.
In the 16th district (Svelberg) - kitchen boxes were produced - six large and six small boxes. Demand was very high. For example, in 1983, consumers had to deliver 65,000 sets of kitchen boxes. Raw materials were received from Riga and Kaliningrad. When cutting metal sheets, the drawings showing how to divide the non-ferrous metal sheet must be followed exactly. The only helper was the so-called guillotine shears, the rest of the work was done by hand.
As in Soviet times, the company was widespread in socialist competition - between workshops, precincts, brigades and individually among workers. Emphasis is placed on measures to increase production efficiency and improve the quality of work. For example, to implement a half-year plan, etc., until Lenin's 111th birthday.
The workshop was specialized in the production of 18 types of products. With the exception of razors, all others are mainly made of ferrous and non-ferrous alloys. 25 tons of non-ferrous metals and 15 tons of ferrous rolls were processed every month. About 90 tons of cast iron were cast. The company's nomenclature was mainly characterized by three types of products: electric irons, cylindrical keys and cast iron castings. (1981)
At the end of 1981, there was a team of 300 people in the 4th workshop of the Straume factory.
D. Kaparšmits: “There were about 300 employees in total, usually about 260 - 270 people at work, because about 10% on vacation. The work was mainly done in two shifts. He even had his own dentist. We hired nurses. Both Brīvības Street 77 and Svelberg had their own canteen.
In the galvanic workshop, the details were chromed. The iron had a shiny body as it must be stainless. Already polished parts came here. There were baths in the workshop - and its details were transferred from one bath to another. About 2,000 parts had to be produced during the day. In chromium or nickel plated form. Some parts also had to be galvanized and tinned.
In the laboratory, everything was checked - both technically and mechanically - or, for example, the insulation of the iron did not break through somewhere, or everything was screwed in properly .. everything had to be checked.
There were elevators that fed all the details from the ground floor up. There were conveyor lines - there were chain lines with pans. Everyone had to do their surgery, one had to screw on one screw, the other had to screw on a light bulb, etc. - and in the end the iron comes together! The iron was also made here from to. We received assembly parts only from Ukraine and Russia - heating elements, thermostats and metals. We also punched here!
We also produced razors. Coffee grinders, mixers, food processors - they were produced in Riga. However, cylindrical keys with balls - we produced them. We made a toy called a chimney sweep! There were still cats in the basket - our girls painted them. There was a standard how to paint - eyes, mustache… As such a souvenir was.
All documentation was done in Russian, everything - even a Latvian almost spoke Russian with a Latvian. As the quality of the irons was good, so was the demand. Around 1988, the task was to double the production of irons. More premises were quickly built. Then in 1990, everything stopped. Not being able to run their double production at all, only to build capacity. Everything is saved here, everything works, electricity works, nothing is ruined. If there are ideas and a desire to produce - there is space, there is electricity, there is heat, there is sewerage! We have our own substation and also our own water supply - two artesian wells - and all the city's communications. ”
It was written in the press that the construction of apartments for employees. D. Kaparšmits: “Yes, they were built - on Nākotnes Street, where the store Supernetto - immediately, on the left, the first house, it is ours. The second is Alpha's house. We built a five-storey house and apartments.
We drove a lot in the Union - to Baikal, to the Caucasus, to the dunes of Elbrus. Employees also played sports, participated in sports games. I think it was a normal time. The only thing that was very bad - all those party committees, orders, collective farms - they think they don't have to produce, but they have to go digging potatoes. Throw everything aside ... patriots, etc., it is difficult for the collective farm. An integral part - podšefnij kolhoz ! ”
The workshop employed assemblers, punchers, packers, regulators, grinders, transport workers, plastic presses, cast iron casters, including non-ferrous metal casters, metal cutters, transport workers, drillers, lathes, technical controllers, a thermist - a metal hardener who performed work harmful to health.
The work of an assembler has not been the easiest - to do the same thing for 8 hours, only to change and go to another conveyor operation after a few days. The conveyor belt slips unevenly, one of the key assemblies has to be connected countless times, and for 8 hours - the assembly of the keys, the production of toys.
D. Kaparšmits: “1990. - In 1991, changes took place, Latvia became an independent state. Everything happened to us on the move - we sent all the products away in wagons, right here in loads. There was a huge hangar here - 1,500 - 2,000 irons made every day - they have to be taken away in a moment. The planned economy had to produce anyway, immediately already divided where to send.
Also, we could get only as many raw materials as needed for production - for example, from Magnetogorsk metals kitchen boxes. From there came the white tin, which was lithographed in the factory in Riga by Kaija, put all the inscriptions Sugar, etc. and paint. Cut and made here.
How did it all end? We lasted until 1995, when we were still producing. Due to the monetary reform, virtually all deliveries ended. The monetary values no longer went together. We no longer received anything in return for the money we received for the products we sent, for example, from Belarus, because their money had no value here. The economy was already completely destroyed, it was not possible to continue production and export to socialist countries, and to export to Japan or America - many are not ready yet. The quality criteria are not such that the product produced here can be accepted and paid for. When we stopped production, we looked for ways to do it here.
Where did the equipment stay? Over time, various - some to Poland, some - sold here somewhere or back to Riga. This is still the case. ”
Currently, the territory of “Straumes” at 77 Brīvības Street is owned by A / S ENEKO. Legal entity, the largest shareholder Dailis Kaparšmits is trying to save everything and is looking for solutions very intensively.
D. Kaparšmits: At present, the space has been preserved - “one on one” from the times of Straume, and the equipment of that time - if any, has been replaced. At the time when production had to be doubled, the way we put the equipment was still standing. We have always been looking for what to produce here. What are we producing now? - Here is an electric pole cap that is put up at the ends of the poles. It is further covered with plastic for more durability. A simple, imperceptible thing - but necessary.
Machine tools are also saved - each person has to perform their own operation, for example - with an electric screwdriver - take a screwdriver, screw it in and pass it on. Now robots are already doing this, humans are excluded from such things. The equipment is also little preserved, because basically all cutting processes are done with a laser. With the scissors we started, we cut it out, then we press it into a circle and form it. In turn, with a laser it does so - puts the sheet in, it cuts out everything that is needed and throws that waste out. Technologies are now much better, more efficient - but they also cost "Small-scale production doesn't pay off."
The territory of the factory in Gulbene, Brīvības Street 77, in May 2018