How tech pioneer ABI Electronics is growing in Turkey

Turkey (officially Türkiye) with its rapidly modernising economy is offering opportunities for UK businesses with technology expertise.

One company helping to boost sustainability across 20 different sectors in the country is ABI Electronics, which exports equipment designed to extend the life of circuit boards, crucial to everything from rail transport to renewable energy. 

“There is a circuit board in everything we see around us,” says Willian Santos, international sales manager at ABI Electronics.

Green growth: international sales manager Willian Santos saw revenue grow 60% in 2023

Credit: ABI Electronics

The Yorkshire-based SME has seen revenue grow 60 per cent in the 2023 financial year, with demand driven not only by sustainability concerns but by supply chain issues and a semiconductor shortage, which means that replacement circuit boards can take up to a year to arrive. 

Since 2015 the company has championed a ‘Repair don’t waste’ approach, a campaign now supported by major organisations around the world, including Alstom, CAF, GE Renewable, Lockheed Martin, Collins Aerospace, Samsung, Valeo, Stellantis, LEGO and Nasa.

Santos says: “We produce technologies that empower technicians to identify the component that is faulty on a circuit board in just a few minutes. You can replace just the component and save the entire circuit board from being thrown away.” Doing so can extend the life of circuit boards by years – or even decades. “I’ve seen boards that have been in operation for at least 30 years,” he adds.

Repairing rather than replacing can also save huge amounts of money. “If you think about wind turbines, each turbine requires about 10 to 15 circuit boards to operate,” says Santos. “If you look at wind farms with hundreds or thousands of turbines, the amount of money spent on circuit boards can run into tens of millions of pounds.” 

In Turkey, ABI Electronics works with airports, industrial repair organisations, government agencies and rail and energy organisations, including GE Renewable Energy, Turkish Railways (TCDD), Kazan Soda, Gaziantep Airport, Roketsan, Marmaray Trains, Ankara Metro and the Turkish Navy. 

Winds of change: huge amounts of money could be saved by repairing wind turbine circuit boards

Credit: Getty

“Turkey is growing and modernising very fast,” says Santos, “but it’s a place where technologies are consumed, rather than designed or manufactured, so they import a lot of technologies for systems like trains and turbines. 

“They have realised the importance of reducing whole-life asset costs by investing in repair. They’re a country where we see a consciousness that we need to repair rather than just replace.”

The world produces around 54 million tonnes of e-waste every year, according to UN statistics. This is predicted to double by 2050 unless action is taken. Just 10 to 15 per cent of scrapped circuit boards are recycled and most end up being crushed, Santos says. 

In Turkey’s rail sector, business leaders are realising the importance of a ‘repair-first’ approach, because if a circuit board becomes obsolete, or a manufacturer withdraws support, operators are left having to retrofit or even upgrade trains. 

“When you have a culture of just replacing circuit boards, it gets to the point where the manufacturer of the original boards will drop support, move on, and retire support entirely,” says Santos.

Switched on: ABI Electronics works with universities to teach how to repair circuit boards

Credit: ABI Electronics

He adds that companies around the world are waking up to the fact that ongoing supply chain issues and a semiconductor shortage has made replacing circuit boards more difficult,” says Santos. “If they haven’t got semiconductors, they can’t build more circuit boards. Spare parts used to take two weeks to arrive, now they can take up to a year. 

“There are many companies that five or six years ago told us they were not prepared to train people and create a lab structure to repair circuit boards for turbines or robotic systems in automotive assembly,” he adds. “Now they realise that without repairing, they can’t keep those assets going.”

ABI Electronics has also worked with universities in Turkey to educate young people in how to repair circuit boards rather than replace them. 

ABI has been a DBT (Department for Business and Trade) Export Champion since 2018.  The company exports 90 per cent of its products, with Turkey being one of its key markets. 

“Our relationship with the DBT in Turkey has been hugely beneficial,” says Santos. “They have facilitated a lot of contacts, especially in the automotive sector, in the rail industry and energy, sometimes by inviting us to webinars or for seminars, or exhibitions in Turkey. It’s a great way to get to know people. It’s been extremely successful: we’ve been able to generate contracts that wouldn’t have been available to us if it wasn’t for the DBT.”

Sell to the world

Now is an exciting time for your business to sell to Turkey. The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) provides a wide range of free support, wherever you are on your exporting journey.

Find out more about Turkey and how DBT can support you at great.gov.uk

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