The High-Technology and Electronics sector has a track record of producing outstanding finalists in these Awards, and very often the overall winner as well. It has sometimes been claimed (regardless of who our assessment partners have been) that the judging process favours companies in this sector – but that isn’t really fair. What is true is that the organisations in this sector generally combined some or all of the elements of global sources and markets, high volumes combined with considerable product complexity, against a background, in many cases, of ever shorter product life cycles.
Although we split off the Telecoms sector this year, we still had five important finalists in the Hi-tech category.
The Swedish company Axis Communications arguably did themselves few favours by admitting in the initial submission that ‘We do not think we have an award-winning supply chain -yet!’. (Oddly, this year we had quite a few entries across the categories that showed this sense of realism and of continuing ambition). The judges concurred that Axis displayed ‘A lot of the signs of an organisation that will be a winner in the next few years’. In particular we liked the way Axis has identified, and is already using, the supply chain as a strategic advantage, the logical yet practical process model, and the strength in collaboration with partners. Although Axis offered some comprehensive metrics, we weren’t entirely convinced that these are yet being used to drive the key strategic directions.
Optos is a Scottish company, supplying specialised eye examination machines of their own design and manufacture on an unusual model – they don’t sell the machines, rather rent them on a ‘pay per procedure’ model. This may be very clever, but it has some interesting supply chain implications around maintenance and product life cycle, and especially given the latter (the company is yet young, and even first generation life cycles are still to be worked out) we thought this was still in too early a stage of development to win the Award.
Hewlett Packard’s UK based Customer Delivery Services submitted an impressive entry, focused on their ”LEP” programme, which has aimed to create, as far as possible, a ‘virtual’ and automated environment for customer support (not just of HP products, but multi-vendor). Amongst other factors this has produced a reported cost reduction of €2.9 million, and the scheme has been successfully rolled out across EMEA, in partnership with Rico Logistics. Although technically competent, we weren’t quite sure where this fitted overall business strategy.
Disruptive is a supplier to amongst others, Tesco and Carphone Warehouse, and as such is in fierce competition with not only other European suppliers but also the Far East. Their procurement-centred submission highlighted a €1.4 million saving on a €6.9 million spend, and for the firm to be reinforcing its preferred supplier status with major retailers suggests they must be doing a lot of things well, but in comparison with the category winner, there really wasn’t the overall scope.
And the winner was – Infineon Technologies AG. Now last year, Infineon was ‘Highly Commended’ in this category, (Cisco won), and also walked away with the ‘Logistics and Fulfillment’ Award. For a lot of firms that would be a result, but Infineon were distinctly not happy – they came back this year, new, improved and as one of the judges commented ‘the 800lb gorilla in the room. They have blown us away with their improvements on what was already an outstanding supply chain.
‘In their processes and IT, their programme of process complexity reduction, their ‘five year road map’ which aligns supply chain so intimately with the strategic direction of the company, their great customer collaboration, and effective supplier collaboration in an industry where this is notoriously difficult – they are the benchmark in their industry, and we are recognising them as such’.