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Brewing up supplier innovations

Brose’s 2017 Supplier Innovation & Technology Day brought together suppliers and stakeholders, providing a platform for supplier representatives to pitch their technology and solutions

Supplier innovation day

The German town of Bamberg is worth visiting for several reasons. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, to protect and promote the early-medieval architecture of the centre, which, unlike most, completely survived Allied bombing during World War II.

 

On a less intellectual level, it has the densest concentration of breweries of anywhere in Germany and, in particular, is famous for its Rauchbier (smoked beer) which ale-lovers flock from far and wide to sample. Just for good measure, it was also the centre of Enlightenment in southern Germany.

 

However, most importantly for the purposes of this piece, is that Bamberg is home to a significant Brose presence, with around 600 employees working at its recently opened group purchasing, development, electronics and IT office on the outskirts of town.

 

And it was the location of a significant SEIC member experience last week.

 

A total of ten SEIC member organizations travelled to Bamberg, first to attend Brose’s 2017 Supplier Innovation & Technology Day; before immersing themselves in the latest SEIC Accelerator Program, which took place over the two subsequent days.

 

Below are some key takeaways from the Innovation & Technology Day:

 

Brace yourself for some hard work

 

I won’t be surprising anyone by warning of the hard work involved in organizing supplier-innovation days. However, it’s worth noting some of the preparation that went into the Brose day. While fewer than 30 suppliers were present, each had prepared exhaustively for the occasion.

 

Before the face-to-face sessions, they had worked on technical solutions and contributions to specific challenges faced by Brose engineers. All this work was captured in a detailed brochure, produced by Brose purchasing and distributed to key stakeholders (advanced development, engineering, BU owners, and so on) so they could see, at a glance, what value could be brought from the supply base relevant to specific technology challenges faced by the business.

 

The purpose of the gathering, was to bring suppliers together with stakeholders, and for senior supplier representatives to pitch their technology and solutions to a wide – and relevant – group of Brose employees.

 

Create a buzz

 

Our experience in Bamberg began with a drinks reception and networking, followed by dinner and the Brose Supplier Innovation Awards on the evening preceding the Innovation & Technology Day. While deliberately light on the razzmatazz, it was an evening of celebration and fun, with key supplier representatives forging new relationships with Brose representatives.

 

Similarly, the day after at the Innovation & Technology Day, Brose’s offices were full and there was a buzz in the air. Robots, virtual-reality demonstrations and other innovations all vied for space among more humdrum supplier innovations, including new materials, motors and solutions.

 

It was exciting to be a part of, and illustrated perfectly to key stakeholders how much capability and opportunity exists within the supply base.

 

Embrace everything

 

In Sandro Scharlibbe, Brose has the type of CPO who lives and breathes the story of innovation. He is visibly excited by the opportunity that Supplier-Enabled Innovation poses, and is determined that procurement be the link between his business and new supplier developments.

 

He has built a team to help deliver this, and is keen to exploit every opportunity available. During the Innovation & Technology Day, we saw presentations from suppliers with wildly different relationships with Brose – some strategic and with a large volume of their sales figures reliant on Brose to some that were just starting out and with barely any. Some were deeply technical and a key part of the product value chain, others could bring process improvements, others still training and development enhancements and other, less direct, benefits.

 

The message here is that SEI at Brose is a belief and a mentality – it’s about harnessing the power of the supply base to the maximum, wherever the opportunity or need might exist.

 

In all, more than 20 individuals from the SEIC community descended on Bamberg, spending portions of time discussing, debating and improving their approaches to SEI. It was immersive, intense, eye-opening and inspiring to be involved with, and I know that the work done during those three days will reap a huge return for all of those who attended.

 

David Rae

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