Planning for perfection – managing chain reaction
Taking on the responsibility of managing a global supply chain can be challenging enough at the best of times. Doing it just as a global pandemic hits the world and changes everything, adds a new level of complexity.
Øystein Larsen is not one for backing down in the face of challenge. An engineer by profession, and with a background in seismic exploration in his pre-Eltek career, he has demonstrated both the urge and capacity to dig deep into technical subject matter and take on more challenges as his career in Eltek has progressed over the past 20 years. He started in Engineering, in its “middle man” role between R&D and sales, addressing and fixing the issues that had to be fixed in order to transform, for the most past, brilliantly designed concepts into manufacturable products. His responsibilities have included supplier quality management, i.e., making sure Eltek’s suppliers deliver to the quality standards expected and agreed upon.
Following the acquisition of Eltek by Delta Electronics in 2015, he was responsible for the complex task of transferring all production lines from Eltek’s then manufacturing partners to Delta’s production facilities in China, including a complete ERP overhaul with a change of system. This job has quite recently been completed.
Automotive setting the standard
Depending on how well you know Eltek, you may or may not remember the company´s involvement in the electric vehicle sector some years back. Although this business was divested for strategic reasons, the involvement in the automotive industry has since set the standard for quality and precision in the management of Eltek’s manufacturing and supply chains. You may ask Øystein about this, because he was in charge. “The attention to detail, the focus on control, the very specific descriptions of processes and procedures on all levels – this is the way of the automotive industry. At Eltek, we have looked that way and prepared our own PQP – a Product Quality Plan corresponding to the Production Part Approval Plan (PPAP) known from the automotive industry. It provides us with both a full bird’s eye view of all processes, as well as descriptions of every little detail and action point. This is our main tool to secure quality in all corners of our processes,” says Øystein.
I am lucky to have a committed and motivated team around me who are determined and empowered to solve remaining issues and return to acceptable and predictable delivery schedules.
Øystein Larsen – Operations Director, Eltek
Preparing for perfection – managing chain reactions
From Øystein’s perspective, two major events took place a little over a year ago: 1) The corona pandemic debuted, and 2) Øystein took on the responsibility for Operations at Eltek – that is the entire production process and the corresponding supply chain, globally. This includes the planning and execution of processes, procurements, forecasting, assembly and distribution of products and customer orders – and more.
However, in the time between signing the contract and the first day on a new job, the Corona had changed everything. So, on his first day in the new job: home office – which since has become the new normal. No meetings face to face, no travel, no visits, no chance to go about the job in a “normal” manner. Just like millions of other people around the world.
The pandemic has hit the industry hard. Eltek has manufacturing facilities in China, and suffered manufacturing delays in the early phases of the pandemic. Later, during the autumn and winter, the assembly facilities in Europe were hit with as much as half of the staff ill or in quarantine due to Covid-19. In combination with the generally long lead times for electronics parts and components (20-40 weeks), this has hampered Eltek’s ability to deliver on time. “There have been significant delays – and we hate it”, says Øystein.
However, in retrospect, he finds it hard to see what could have been done differently that would have had a significant effect on delivery times. “While we plan for perfection and prepare for the unexpected, we have been forced to manage the consequences of the pandemic across our supply chain to the best of our ability. Just like every company in our line of business.”
Øystein looks forward to spring, summer and a return to something similar to what we used to call “normal”. “I am lucky to have a committed and motivated team around me who are determined and empowered to solve remaining issues and return to acceptable and predictable delivery schedules. This is our focus now, and it is super sharp. At the same time, we are learning and preparing for a better future for all”, says Øystein Larsen – from his office at home.