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Building long-term relationships with customers requires more than just a good product, it takes trust, compromising – and an important ingredient when doing business is that you are able to have fun together.
Axelent’s customer base includes both the large multinational companies that do business on a global scale as well as the smaller family-run companies with a more local character. Even though the business areas may differ, there are a few common denominators. In addition to a fundamental interest in machine protection and safety, the personal touch and an understanding of the customers’ unique needs and challenges play a crucial role. Many companies that decide to try Axelent’s products once have also become repeat customers and good friends.
Two of the companies that have been with Axelent for a long time are Yaskawa and WEMO Automation. They are global companies in the robotics and automation industry with registered offices in Sweden in Småland, not too far from Hillerstorp. The Nordic branch of the global giant Yaskawa, whose Swedish branch originally went by the name Motoman, was founded in the 1970s and is based in Torsås, about 40 kilometres south of Kalmar. The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial robots, electric servomotors and control systems, and builds turnkey solutions for its customers. This work requires the use of mesh panel sections, posts and cable trays, all of which are purchased from Axelent.
“Our relationship has always been characterised by a healthy amount of give and take. I think, in many respects, we have grown together since we started our collaboration in 2004”, says Anders Ullström, Strategic Sourcing Manager at Yaskawa Nordic.
In Värnamo, you will find the head office and main factory for the WEMO Group, a company that was founded in 1987 by brothers Sven, Bengt and Olof Ståhl and which is today regarded as one of the leading manufacturers of linear robots and automation equipment for the plastics industry. Sven Ståhl, the company’s CEO, holds a similar view of the company’s collaboration with Axelent, which has been going on since 1992.
He reflects that during the journey, they have had to overcome a lot of challenges, largely because WEMO is so different from Axelent’s ’regular’ customers in the sense that they use Axelent’s products in their own package solutions for end customers – but with customised measurements, custom colours and under their own brand. WEMO also buys items in bulk which they then warehouse themselves.
“We have not always been the easiest customer, since we have had so many requests and questions. But we have somehow been able to find a good compromise and managed to find that happy medium that has benefited us both and helped us grow. I think it’s about being able see things from each other’s perspectives to see how the wishes of both parties can be harmonised”.
For Yaskawa’s part, the collaboration started with the purchase of loose mesh sections and posts, something that soon led to orders for complete machinery protection systems. Given that each and every system is unique in its design, there are high demands placed on drawings that match different angles and outlets for tracks and doors.
“Besides the fact that we like their products, it is probably their responsiveness and speed that we value most. Their speed is sort of their signature, both in terms of customer communication and delivery. Their other strengths are that they are strategically competent in their entire approach and they are able to read what the market is looking for”.
In many cases, Axelent’s customer relationships have led to a mutual exchange that has opened the door to new business opportunities between the seller and the customer. One example is Yaskawa, who have performed a variety of tests on Axelent’s products over the years. Axelent have purchased complementary products for their mesh partitions from WEMO, which are now part of the current range, as well as robots for Axelent Engineering.
“It’s about showing that helping each other is a two-way street. They help us develop our products, and we help them refine theirs. And even though views on machinery protection vary around the world, I always promote Axelent so that more of our branches take a look at their products”, says Anders.
Axelent’s ability to maintain long-term partnerships with their customers requires more than reliability and understanding. It is also about building good relationships on a more personal level.
“One extremely important ingredient when doing business is that you are able to have fun together – and we have always been able to do that with Axelent. This is when the smartest solutions come about and the end results are the best. I won’t go into everything we have come up with together, but we have certainly had fun”, laughs Sven.
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