At Asia Pacific Rail in March this year, in Hong Kong, Michael Boback, Head of Deutsche Bahn’s International Procurement Office Asia shared “How Deutsche Bahn is managing project success through effective procurement” in his closing keynote session on day one.
With the International Procurement office now based in Shanghai, we spoke to Michael about the challenges and future plans Deutsche Bahn’s business:
As the Head of International Procurement, what are your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge will be getting accustomed to Asia. Firstly to establish the office and then travelling. While you don’t need to travel over 15 hours, there’s still a few thousand kilometers you need to cover to meet your suppliers every week.
How are you balancing “Made in Germany” versus “Made in Asia”?
We would not come to Asia if we do not believe there is a quality which we can use in Germany. Especially in China where 80% of the overall terminal brands produced in the last year were of a very good grade of quality of use. Some people think that items made by China are of poor quality but a lot of high speed rail and railways run around the world without major mishaps so I think we can take on the challenges here as well.
In terms of innovation and development, we need to look into the specifications and standards. Do we have the right specifications and standards established over the last year? Is there anything we can move out without reducing the quality or safety of the traffic?
There will be no doing away with quality in terms of pricing. So when we procure in Asia, the quality expectations of our customer will be the same as we have now. We want to have the price effect but have the same quality.
How do you find the right partners in Asia and who are you looking to work with?
Attending conferences like Asia Pacific Rail. Making us known in Asia and having an office here. Last year, keeping up the qualification and contacts over the very long distance from Germany has not been very successful, so we made the decision to build up the office to be much closer to the Asian markets and to educate the suppliers on our requirements. It is not only the specifications but also the tools we are using, the documents we want to see, conditions we have, the specifics of the tendering law we have to apply for tenders above a certain threshold and more.
So how do you find Asia Pacific Rail?
The quality is great. Sometimes you stumble on things you weren’t looking for. Today, I learnt about. PMSM which is a type of new motor which I have seen from some suppliers but someone here could explain the technique and the value of the systems so I really learnt something. We don’t think everything will end after this, but hopefully with the contacts and connections we have built, we can do something great.
Do you want meet procurement leaders like Michael? Join us at Asia Pacific Rail 2017, the leading event for Asia Pacific’s rail industry as we gather the region’s top leaders and experts to discuss the future of rail.