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Why Being Near Clients Always Pays

Stéphane Talbot
Commodity Manager, Alstom Transport, France

By the end of 2014, Alstom Transport will start production of new trains for the Lille metro system. The engineering challenges of such a project are numerous. Bossard has been involved in the planning well before the start of production.

For the Lille metro, an engineer from the Bossard office in Valenciennes in northern France was added to the team to prevent changes to the items used as the project progressed. If the right screw is selected from the start and no subsequent modifications are necessary, then you can achieve the greatest productivity gain. And, you cannot measure this form of productivity – especially when everything is running smoothly. This is a really successful approach aimed at preventing very cost-intensive changes downstream.

As a commodity manager for sourcing, I work with a specific segment, class C, which includes all small components such as screws, spacers, nuts, etc. At our group headquarters in Paris we develop purchasing strategy, supplier models and framework agreements. We also manage their implementation at the approximately 20 production sites of Alstom Transport (Rolling Stock).

The first characteristic of class C-parts is the enormous number of different items – they make up 30% of the items for trains but only 7 % of a train’s overall material purchase price. For Alstom this means 30, 000 different items (including 10 000 screws). An item usually amounts to several hundred euros per year.

That’s why we want to use Bossard’s engineering expertise to help us standardize our products and achieve our goal of reducing the number of items from 4,800 to 2,000, ultimately. How is Bossard supporting us with this project? The company is providing us with technical and logistics support. For example, the same shim with a diameter of 12 mm might have four different names, depending on the production site responsible for assigning item names. Bossard identifies the part and assigns it a standard item code. Another example is when Bossard looks at two different screws that have the same function, cleaning out the item database by selecting just one of them. Bossard also proposes new fastening solutions which help to improve assembly process.

The second special feature of class C-parts is the service area. The decisive factor in this regard was Bossard’s global presence and the excellent geographic pairing of these locations with Alstom’s. Bossard assigns the order, maintains the inventory and delivers directly to our production facilities – in Europe as well as in Asia, for instance, in Shanghai. The Bossard warehouses are located near our production sites. This is true for Poland, Spain and India. This geographic proximity helps us to significantly reduce our production costs.

Eight years ago when this adventure began, Bossard was working with just one Alstom production site in Belfort, France. Today, Bossard works with nine of Alstom’s production sites.


Why Being Near Clients Always Pays by
March 19, 2014

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