Harald Bloemers talks about his experiences with Kloepfel Benelux B.V.
Industry: Winter maintenance, Railway and Airport-vehicles
Commodities: mechanical processing, grey- & modular cast iron, drivelines, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, cast aluminium and various other subjects.
Turnover: 413 million euros (2018)
Employees: 1.900 (worldwide – 2019)
Objective: This project was part of an international project for the entire Aebi Group. Plants in Germany and Switzerland were part of this, as was the plant in Holten, the Netherlands. In addition to generating costs savings the goal was to provide Aebi Schmidt new insights regarding the established way of working with current suppliers and identify new attractive suppliers. Therefore, the help of Kloepfel Consulting was required to develop a new fresh vision on the procurement function within the Aebi Group.
Were you sceptical or open-minded at the start of the project?
In the first few months, several employees were quite sceptical and cautious, it makes them wonder if they have not done a proper job in purchasing so far. This attitude changed quickly, when it was noticed that the employees of Kloepfel were not a threat, but a welcome strength to the purchasing team.
What were the biggest challenges at the start of the project?
The biggest challenge at the start was how the project was positioned within Aebi-Schmidt. In Germany people had no experience with this type of project, so there was a “wait-and-see” attitude. After a good introduction of the consultants and with the first saving results, the attitude within Aebi Schmidt changed quickly. Kloepfel realized that the relationship between existing suppliers and Aebi Schmidt was different depending on the Aebi Schmidt location. This was very well considered by Kloepfel; supplier relationships were not neglected but embraced.
To what extent has the optimisation project influenced your “on time delivery” and the quality of your products?
The quality of our products has always been strong and remained to be strong during and after the project. On time delivery, on the other hand, was clearly improved. This among other things through clear agreements and an improvement of the logistics processes.
To what extent has the optimisation project affected the stability of your purchase prices?
Stability of supply and pricing has clearly improved by concluding long-term contracts. The focus on the long term was essential. Standard formats were also supplied for this, which are still being used.
To what extent does optimization have a lasting effect on your daily activities?
The best practices that were introduced at the time (contracts, RFQ formats, supplier presentations) are still used today. At the time the organization was not yet ready for a global commodity lead buyer organisation. However, this change has occurred within the Aebi Schmidt organisation recently.
How would you describe the working method of the Kloepfel project team?
The employees of Kloepfel become part of the team. They are on an equal basis with the other colleagues which lead to a smooth cooperation.
Joint project successes are always person dependent. We are talking about temporary colleagues in the projects here. How was you’re feeling about this?
The contact between permanent (Aebi) and temporary (Kloepfel) employees always went well. And the colleagues got used to each other.
Sometimes suppliers must get used to seeing the new faces of Kloepfel at the negotiating table, in addition to the trusted contacts of your company. How did you experience this situation and what responses did the suppliers have?
This of course depends on the supplier. Some suppliers would rather not break up the existing contracts and try to stick to running agreements. However, the dialogue usually went well, since Kloepfel recognized the value of the good relationships with the suppliers and managed to create also benefit for the suppliers.
What is your conclusion after the project?
The desired savings were achieved, and, I can say a few years later, there is still a lasting, positive impact on the company.
Has the project delivered the desired results, have these results been achieved?
Not only were the savings indicated in advance realized. Various best practices were also introduced that are still being used. This proves to me that the project was successful.