Text Sepi Roshan
Photos Tero Takalo-Eskola
Text Sepi Roshan
Photos Tero Takalo-Eskola
Managing the flow of goods and services for any international company is not for the faint hearted. It requires super co-ordination and attention to detail, especially when handling supplies of raw materials and inventory for safe delivery of complicated products. Mr Jukka Kaukanen, Strategic Purchasing Manager at Sammet, is the superhero who identifies and cultivates supplier relationships to seamlessly complete complex projects for over 80 customers worldwide. Leveraging over 30 years of experience, Kaukanen continuously seeks to perfect Sammet’s procurement activities and resourcing needs, identifying the very best components, materials and services for customers.
“The most important aspect of my role is to ensure our production facilities incorporate the ‘Sammet Way’ of working and our expertise into the procurement process”, he says.
Supply chain management in a company with international reach requires building a strong team that can successfully reach out to a broad range of component suppliers, manufacturing workshops, and packing and logistics teams. Like most Finns, Kaukanen is direct when outlining his approach to his work. “All aspects of supply chain management must align with Sammet’s strategy of delivering the highest quality products and excellent customer service. The most important aspect of my role is to ensure our production facilities incorporate the ‘Sammet Way’ of working and our expertise into the procurement process”, he says. The ‘Sammet Way’ involves working very closely with partners to fully understand their specific needs. “Building partnerships that deliver high quality products to our customers makes work a pleasure and increases the purchasing team’s commitment to exceed expectations”, states Kaukanen. “Our team of purchasing experts are committed to acquiring the highest quality materials from across the globe and minimising costs. Sammet has succeeded particularly well in finding the right experts who can fulfil the sourcing needs of our European and China production facilities”, he adds.
Like all superheroes, Kaukanen seeks to protect those who rely on him and works hard to mitigate their exposure to risk. Sammet’s unprecedented business growth over the last year and intense industry competition has tested Kaukanen. Pressure to reduce project delivery times means an increased risk of missing deadlines. With the introduction of more stringent environmental regulation some customers could face non-compliance and hefty fines if targets are missed. So far, Sammet continues to deliver projects on time and to budget, largely because of its efficient and effective processes and workflow collaborations. “We employ the latest technology and innovative practices for purchases, confirmations and vendor delivery tracking through the ERP system to ensure delivery and planning accuracy”, reveals Kaukanen. Effective reporting keeps the status of procurement up-to-date by allowing changes in real time. Anticipated delays are identified immediately for speedy resolution.
“Sammet has succeeded particularly well in finding the right experts who can fulfil the sourcing needs of our European and China production facilities”
In addition to technological solutions, Kaukanen says proximity between suppliers and the production facility is integral for successful supply chain management. “Localisation is key because it helps with logistics and building relationships with people who are easily accessible for discussing issues and resolving problems”, explains Kaukanen. The decision-making process becomes more efficient and response times are reduced. “A blend of technology and proximity has worked well in helping us become the global leader in industrial dampers”, he states.
Kaukanen makes clear that reliable suppliers who uphold Sammet’s standards of great customer service and quality are highly valued. Sammet only works with suppliers who are able to meet its stringent quality control and delivery specifications. Rapid international growth and competitive forces demand that Kaukanen quickly creates local supply chains and collaborative networks. Once appropriate suppliers are identified, the relationship is nurtured to develop common understanding and loyalty. Finnish honesty has proven to rapidly build trust, making it easier to implement key metrics for suppliers selection, evaluation and collaborative project planning.
Regardless, working on complex projects across cultures and languages can be challenging. Relying on extensive experience working and living in Europe and China, Kaukanen takes all this in his stride. With typical Finnish pragmatism he explains, “The best supply chain managers adapt to international procurement protocols. They are familiar with agreement and negotiation techniques as well as important cultural practices”. Familiarity and adhering to protocols makes communicating Sammet’s expectations to suppliers easier. Less ambiguity means greater clarity about product-related specifications, contractual obligations and objectives. Kaukanen points out that Sammet’s investments in European and Chinese productions facilities also provide vital links with suppliers.
With all this hard work and commitment in reinforcing Sammet’s drive to deliver very complicated projects to international markets on time and on budget, how does this superhero relax? Kaukanen smiles a humble Finnish smile at this question. “Well, I like to watch TV and go hiking in the forest, as well as fishing in the summer”, he says. Just like the heroes in the movies he enjoys, Kaukanen leaves to continue battling any threats to the smooth operations of daily life at Sammet and its customers.