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December 1, 2023

How to Improve Supplier Collaboration

Christophe Mugnier-Pollet, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Vestas, provides his best practices for improving supplier collaboration.

The Importance of Supply Chain as a Competitive Advantage

Supply chain has been recognized as a competitive advantage for companies in the last few years. Companies that understand the value of supply chain management view it not just as a cost, but as a way to gain a competitive edge. Vestas, a leader in the sustainable energy sector, has been able to develop solutions for its customers by incorporating supply chain elements into its products. Mugnier-Pollet emphasized that the wind industry, in particular, requires partnerships beyond transactional relationships with suppliers. These partnerships help to develop solutions for customers and mitigate disruptions.

"It's not just a transactional relationship with suppliers, we still do that with many suppliers. But where it really matters, we have to have partnerships in place to really go beyond orders and deliveries, and really finding solutions together with a selected few companies."

Christophe Mugnier-Pollet -
Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Vestas

Collaborating with Suppliers for a Sustainable Supply Chain

Sustainability has become a key issue for many companies, with the threat of climate change affecting their bottom lines. Vestas, as a leader in the sustainable energy industry, has made sustainability a top priority. While the company's wind turbines are by nature a sustainable product, the manufacturing process must also be green. Vestas is committed to circularity, and is looking for solutions to recycle the remaining parts of the turbine. Diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility are also important elements of Vestas' sustainability agenda.

"It's a broader agenda than basically just making products that are good for the environment.”

To ensure a stable supply chain, Vestas collaborates with suppliers to go beyond transactional relationships. The company has partnerships in product development, commercial partnerships, financing, and supply chain. These partnerships help Vestas to develop sustainable solutions for its customers and mitigate disruptions.

"It's on a narrative topic. And typically there are partnerships in product development, there could be, you know, even commercial partnerships and financing as well. But more and more, we also do partnerships in supply chain."

People, Process, and Technology

When it comes to digital transformation, Mugnier-Pollet believes that the key is to focus on people, process, and technology in that order. It's important to keep users in mind constantly through design and deployment of technologies. Supply chain technologies are designed to support people making decisions, so it's important to have users at the heart of everything done in supply chain. For companies looking at implementing new systems, it's important to recognize that technology is changing the world. Leaders must understand technology, and not just leave technology decisions to specialized teams in the organization. Leaders must master technology enough to make the right decisions and understand how to support people with the right technology.

"You just can't leave technology decisions to specialized teams in the organization. I think the leaders themselves have to master enough of technology to really be able to make the right decisions to make the right choices of technology, and also to truly understand how, again, we can support people with the right technology."

Breakthroughs in Supply Chain Technology

Mugnier-Pollet is excited about the basics of supply chain technology, such as planning and order execution. He believes that there is a lot of work to do in these areas, and that focusing on what really matters is key. In the last few years, there have been disruptive technologies such as big data that have been utilized to increase the level of visibility in the supply chain. Vestas has been able to go deeper into the supply chain from tier one, tier two, and beyond to understand what's going on and increase visibility. However, it's important to recognize that not all technologies are timely or bring value. It's important to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new technologies.

"The key being to pass the excitement basically, and really understand. Is it timely for us? Would that really bring value and making the right decisions?"

The Takeaways

  • 1.

    Supply chain management is a competitive advantage for companies and must be viewed not just as a cost, but as a way to sustain business and gain a competitive edge.

  • 2.

    Partnering with suppliers beyond transactional relationships to develop sustainable solutions is key.

  • 3.

    Sustainability is a top priority for companies, and circularity, diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility are important elements of a sustainability agenda.

  • 4.

    Digital transformation in supply chain must focus on people, process, and technology in that order, with users at the heart of everything done in supply chain.

  • 5.

    Leaders must recognize that technology is changing the world and must understand technology enough to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new systems.

  • 6.

    Exciting breakthroughs in supply chain technology such as big data are being utilized to increase the level of visibility, but it's important to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new technologies.

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