Global suppliers met at DA Supplier Day 2017 to discuss quality across the value chain

2017-11-23 - Distribution Automation Supplier Day 2017 gathered suppliers from around the world in Vaasa, Finland along with their ABB contacts, to discuss the meaning of quality assurance throughout the entire value chain. ABB brought the latest update on the Distribution Automation (DA) business, provided insight into future trends, and revealed the next steps for DA.

DA Supplier Day offers a unique forum for sharing knowledge, information and experiences, with the aim of further improving the shared value chain and ensuring increased added value for our mutual end customers. The event also provides an excellent opportunity to network face-to-face, not only with DA’s management and experts within operations and R&D, but also with professional peers from around the world.

Mr. Markus Äijö from Protopaja Oy
"I appreciate the opportunity to meet different players associated with the same business and to get a better understanding of ABB’s business in general. This helps us nurture our long-standing and highly valued business relationship. Gaining insight into development trends and ABB’s next steps allows us to anticipate future demand,” said Mr. Markus Äijö, CEO at Protopaja Oy.

Ms. Hongyan Wang, account manager at Enics Electronics Ltd., attached great significance to grasping the whole picture and seeing where your own product fits in.

Ms. Hongyan Wang from Enics Electronics Ltd.
“I will bring back and share these new insights with my team to give them a new perspective. I think it is vital that each employee is aware of how his or her work fits in the bigger picture. Knowing the entire value chain and having a view of the business as a whole are vital in developing a sense of responsibility and pride, and help make work feel more meaningful. This results in motivated personnel taking ownership of their job,” concluded Ms. Wang.

Improving our common value chain – together

The theme for this year’s event – quality – stems from one of ABB’s five value pairs, Customer focus and Quality. Quality is also one of ABB’s seven 1,000-day programs, launched in 2015 as part of the Next level strategy. The primary goal of the program is to increase customer focus by improving the quality of output at all stages of the value chain, cutting waste, reducing lead times and improving on-time delivery. In brief, quality is seen as the cornerstone of customer satisfaction.

Mr. Antti Hakala-Ranta from ABB's Medium Voltage Products unit in Finland
Mr. Antti Hakala-Ranta, manager of ABB’s Medium Voltage Products business in Finland, defined four cornerstones of what ABB expects of its suppliers: quality, competence and competitiveness, with collaboration in the middle.

“The key is quality. Quality can never be compromised. Without quality, we have nothing,” said Mr. Hakala-Ranta. He further asserted that each supplier represents world-class competence and that cost-effectiveness remains crucial. “The complexity of the value chain is by far the biggest challenge when it comes to quality. This calls for close collaboration across the entire value chain,” he concluded.

Perceptions of the concept of quality

Ms. Heidi Hirsimäki from the Finnish utility Aurora Kilpilahti Oy
Ms. Heidi Hirsimäki, sourcing manager at the Finnish utility Aurora Kilpilahti Oy, represented the other end of the value chain. Ms. Hirsimäki discussed Aurora’s expectations of ABB as a supplier, emphasizing the importance of safety, transparency, efficiency, a proactive approach and reliability of power supply, and reflected on the concept of quality.

“Quality is a holistic concept. Quality is everywhere and permeates all company processes. It is composed of small and larg things, for instance, whether the supplier is wearing appropriate safety gear on a site visit,” said Ms. Hirsimäki.

“Quality is the company culture and code of conduct every employee commits to. It is not a single action, but a set of actions, ranging from the first customer contact to delivery and beyond,” continued Mr. Markus Äijö. Ms. Wang agreed that quality is everywhere and that it is not only about the physical product.

“Quality starts with people. It is how you treat your customers, which, in turn, has its origin in basic respect for people,” she added.

DA Supplier Day 2017 was rounded off by awarding Analog Devices, Inc. "Component Supplier of the Year", Wapice Ltd. "R&D Supplier of the Year", and Protopaja Oy "Supplier of the year" for fulfilling the requirements of quality, competence, competitiveness and collaboration.

From the left: Mr. Pekka Jouppi and Frantz Kruger from ABB, Mr. Markus Äijö from Protopaja Oy, together with Mr. Harri Rönnholm, Ms. Pia Jörgensen and Ms. Kerttu Koivulahti from ABB.

The next day, the DA Supplier Day delegates were offered a guided tour of the Kvarken Archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was followied by a visit to Technobothnia Education and Research Centre, co-owned and used by three educational institutions: University of Vaasa, Vaasa University of Applied Sciences and Novia University of Applied Sciences. The tour ended with visits to ABB’s Medium Voltage Products factory and the neighbouring Protection and Connection factory.