Our story

Precision to half a human hair

Rudolf Arlt was at the beginning of the story of one of the most successful and still growing companies in metalworking in the Czech Republic. “My grandfather came from Krupka near Teplice, where he trained as a turner and worked for two decades for Somet, a company specialising in precision gauges and calipers,” says Jan Arlt, grandson of AR KOVO’s founder.

However, Rudolf Arlt and his wife moved from Krupka to Světlá nad Sázavou and in the 1990s, instead of working for the largest local company – glassworks, he and his business partner decided to set up an independent workshop. At first it was a side job along with his full-time employment in the glassworks. He worked in the workshop in the evenings and on weekends. He still remembers the tolerant neighbours who were not angry when his turning rattled their cups in the cupboard. The next step was to rent a building where he and his partner each had their own space for production. Rudolf Arlt’s first employees later worked there, and to give you an idea, they had 4–5 machines. The garage production eventually became the main income and in 1996 the company AR KOVO was officially established.

Jan Arlt, the youngest member of the family business management, adds: “My grandfather comes from the borderlands and his parents were German, so he had a big advantage with German after the revolution. He was born in 1944 and, thanks to the providence of his parents, he had Czech citizenship. Moreover, my great-grandfather was hardly expendable after the war because he worked as a miner in an underground mine, so the family fortunately escaped displacement. My grandparents were part-time subsistence farmers, the government confiscated everything they had after the war and after 1990 returned them only the land, because the buildings no longer existed. But my grandfather built his business on his own, without any money from restitution.”

In 1994, German helped Rudolf Arlt establish collaboration with D+S Präzisionsteile GmbH through the Chamber of Commerce in Hradec Králové, which lasted until about 2015 and which is now renewed with the successor of this company.

Rudolf Arlt’s son, Jiří, graduated from the Czech Technical University and went his own way first. But when his father Rudolf called him to tell him that he had bought machines for about ten million thanks to the collaboration with the German partner and needed help programming them, he didn’t refuse. “It meant moving at 3 p.m., when I finished my shift at the engineering company where I worked, to my dad’s company, where I stayed until about 3:30 a.m. After two months, I realised that this wasn’t the way to go and I started working for my dad full-time,” says Jiří Arlt, who now works as Production Director and General Manager, about his beginnings in the family business.

The last of the Arlt generation, Jan, joined AR KOVO in 2015, studied mechanical engineering, but found that working for the company gave him much more than formal education. The fact that he had been in the family business since he was 11 years old certainly had an impact, and there was no easy pocket money. He knows the company and its work from the ground up, and it can be said he has literally grown up with it. He is currently working as Sales Director.

A major milestone in the development of AR Kovo was the period 2011–2012, when thanks to the construction of a new building they expanded the number of employees and machines. Currently, approximately 90 employees work on 35 machines, also thanks to the reconstruction of the Josefodol plant in 2017–2018.

Seventy per cent of metalworking production goes to the healthcare sector. AR Kovo also works with companies in the hydraulics industry and is ready to offer cooperation to the automotive sector in agriculture.

In 2021, the company expanded its scope to include components for biomass combustion technologies. The company also applies ecological approach when acquiring its own technologies. The offices are heated using compressor heat recovery, and the assembly shop by waste heat from cast aluminium cleaning.

“We maintain a high standard, using Japanese CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, which we replace with new ones after about ten years,” says Jiří Arlt, specifying the production quality strategy. “The daily regime is set up so that shifts start at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., including all Saturdays and Sundays. At the beginning of the shift, the operator loads the bar stock. The machine takes it from the charging tray. On the other side is a robot that takes the products onto the belt. The whole process is without the operator’s involvement. The CNC machines are only adjusted when production changes, and the operator only checks the quality of the machine’s work,” he adds.

Just as a matter of interest, the smallest AR KOVO product has a diameter of 4 mm –precision, accuracy and quality are therefore essential. On the other hand, the largest products were over 300 mm in diameter, and these were produced for an aircraft factory. However, the production volume is not negligible either. The daily productivity of a machine is up to 6,000 pieces. In 2021, the company produced 10,500,000 pieces, with production increasing by about fifteen per cent every year.

However, the Arlt family members unanimously consider one of their greatest achievements the fact that the company still employs the people who have worked there since the beginning and who have also brought their relatives and friends.

This makes AR Kovo a true family company, not only of the Arlt family.