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1. Nov 2021 | Markets & Companies

A clear view of purchasing

Sabine Ursel, freelance journalist

Cost advantages versus ecological footprint? This is not a contradiction - if purchasing knows how to play its key role. Business Intelligence (BI) helps with optimisation, also because more than half of the added value is usually generated outside the company. Here is an example in the field of powder coatings.

Business Intelligence is the intelligent, smart form of traditional reporting.
Image source: Tuomas Kujansuu - StockAdobe.com

Business Intelligence (BI) enables companies to combine the factors of profitability and sustainability. Once the material groups have been optimised in the first step by means of BI, the issue of sustainability can also be advanced via two strands. Possible procedure: Exact calculation. "The calculation of economic and ecological effects is complex and can hardly be done seriously with conventional methods, if only because of the usual lack of process and data transparency," says Thomas Mademann, Managing Director of GMVK Procurement GmbH. "The implementation of a BI tool provides actual transparency for the first time. The user no longer has to act on the basis of assumptions that cannot be substantiated, which usually has expensive consequences. The true causes in the course of the process cannot be clearly traced, even in retrospect."

With a BI tool, the user gains insight for the first time. They can calculate the total costs and also the total ecological footprints of the material used reliably, promptly and comprehensibly. On the one hand, this helps purchasing, but at the same time it gives the entire company a huge boost in the difficult topic of sustainability along the global supply chain. When selecting the right suppliers, it is important to expand the criteria for supplier selection and supplier development to include measurable ESG (Ecological, Social and Governance Items). Example: The BI solution "4EBITSuite" from 4EBIT includes a supplier evaluation module with various informative dashboards. The user can generate recommendations for action and initiate adequate actions at the push of a button. The system facilitates the selection of the right suppliers and also makes it possible to accompany the partners in their development. Important: It should also be possible to integrate external information into the tool, which is provided by players such as IntegrityNext, Ecovadis and D&B, for example.

Avoiding unnecessary transports

With regard to ecological and social criteria, both the articles in the purchasing assortment and the process technology in the use of articles should be optimised. For example, energy can be saved in the pre-treatment of the substrate to be painted by selecting the right process chemistry, e.g. by using degreasers at lower temperatures. Thomas Mademann mentions an alternative: "You don't buy ready-made degreasing or paint stripping baths, but the required components. On the one hand, this creates a deeper process understanding for the required components and effects. On the other hand, the transport of large quantities of water can be saved, which is particularly advantageous in the case of aqueous solutions."

Positive consequence: instead of IBCs (intermediate bulk containers; tank containers), only canisters "drive" through the landscape, which causes less CO2 and, moreover, lower transport costs. BI also offers the possibility of avoiding unnecessary and poorly utilised transports through geo-visualisation of process steps. Reach and stocks can also be optimally planned, for example by choosing optimal ordering times for procurement strategies - at the suggestion of the system. Charting techniques can help here, as can close cooperation with strategic suppliers.

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