“Expoquimia is an ideal setting to facilitate access to the main solutions of the chemical industry and their application to different sectors and industries for professionals and companies in the sector that we count among our interest groups.”
Expoquimia 2023 will encompass an AERCE Procurement Day (the Spanish Association of Purchasing, Procurement and Provisioning).
The workday, whose purpose is to examine current issues and new trends related with the Purchasing function, will take place on the 31st of May and will gather over one hundred Purchasing professionals from the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.
Alejandro Basso, Head of Indirect Procurement (Europe) at Grifols and renowned expert in Purchasing with over 25 years of experience in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, talks to us about the strategic role of this function within organisations.
Firstly, how important is a department such as that of Purchasing in the operation and smooth running of a business?
A professionalised, modern Purchasing department is of essential importance within any organisation, although it may vary depending on the industry. In manufacturing industries, for example, businesses compete with their supply chains to a greater extent than with their sales channels, but the truth is that the objective of a Purchasing department, belonging to one industry or another, is always the same: to have products and services available on time and in commercially competitive conditions.
The search for suppliers and the selective and proactive management of strategic suppliers is one of the strengths contributed by a good Purchasing department.
In addition to the expected savings for the company, good risk management that ensures the supply is critical and makes the difference, as has been shown in recent years. In a context as volatile as today, defined by the scarcity of products and continuous and sharp increases in prices, establishing partnership relationships with suppliers has become an absolute priority for smooth functioning and even the survival of many businesses.
To all of this we must add the need to ensure a sustainable supply which is environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
This is another of the priorities of a professionalised Purchasing department. Trying to carry out this task in a decentralised way and without a Purchasing department is neither effective nor efficient and the result may end up being very limited.
A third key aspect is the global management of the supply chain. A Purchasing department has visibility and acts throughout the whole value chain, from R&D to sale. It is the best placed department for maximising the value of the company, optimising the whole process, eliminating inefficiencies throughout the whole chain and being based on the specific knowledge of suppliers and the external innovation that they may contribute.
In this regard, why does it seem to be one of the most unknown, or perhaps least recognised departments in the business world?
This unfamiliarity varies depending on the country of operation. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands, which enjoy a more advanced business culture, the Purchasing function holds a prominent position. In Spain it has been difficult to achieve that recognition, but it is true that as businesses have grown and evolved and have discovered the value that the Purchasing department contributes to the business, recognition has increased in recent years.
However, as I said, it is a matter of time and business development. In environments in which sales and marketing were until recently the most important functions, and business success could be achieved despite not being efficient in the supply chain, it has not been essential to have a robust Purchasing department until now, when product costs and availability narrow margins and jeopardise the continuity of the business.
What is the function of a department such as Purchasing in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors?
The function of Purchasing in this industry, although it shares the same objectives as other industries, has some particularities, above all related with quality.
Due to the high quality requirements of the industry for guaranteeing the security and efficacy of medication, before proceeding to any change of supplier, the stability of the product and the pertinent regulatory changes have to be confirmed. In the best of cases, the change process may take a minimum of 18 months, as well as entailing the investment of substantial resources in the materials, products and services that form part of the production process.
This affects the risk mitigation plans and the relationship with suppliers, establishing more rigid and longer-term relationships between them and Purchasing departments than in other sectors.
What is the objective of workdays such as the one that AERCE will carry out as part of Expoquimia 2023?
In addition to the AERCE national conference, a reference event for Purchasing professionals throughout Spain, AERCE organises (also on an annual basis) a Procurement Day in the autonomous regions in which it is present. These events, in addition to presenting businesses and professionals with new trends, content of interest and the latest in Purchasing, not only at an international and national level, but also in relation with the region in which they operate, allow attendees to establish proximity ties with other professionals and businesses related with their respective sectors.
Given that our interest groups have diverse professionals and businesses of the chemical sector or directly related with it, Expoquimia is an ideal venue for holding it in order to provide them access to the main solutions of the chemical industry and their application to different sectors and industries.
What issues will be addressed at the workday?
At this workday we will address some key issues for the Purchasing function, such as its role within organisations so that they adequately respond to issues such as sustainability and innovation, and how they can rely on new technological solutions and advances through digitalisation. We will also place the focus on how Purchasing contributes to the profitability and competitiveness of organisations and the challenges posed to Purchasing professionals today.
Finally, what are the expectations of holding this workday?
To provide the attendees of this Procurement Day the latest solutions related with the circular economy, the digitalisation of industry and technological transfer which will be present at Expoquimia thanks to top level exhibitors, leading to high expectations of AERCE. This is not only with regard to the high rate of participation and attendance; but also in terms of the differential value of the resources they will have the opportunity to discover, and the possibility they are offered of coming into contact with new suppliers who share their concerns about efficiency and sustainability.