Rauno Ahola explains the philosophy behind the new ABB Value Provider Programme, with insight from programme members around the world.
Providing optimum customer solutions and support is, and always has been, the common goal for both ABB and its channel network members. As a leading global supplier of industrial automation, the need for effective working partnerships throughout the third party channel network is certainly not a new concept for ABB.
Indeed, ABB has had over 30 years of very successful experience through previous business specific ABB channel programmes that are now acting as a solid base for our current renewal process. Through this new programme we want to build, position and market a common brand. We are doing this by creating a strong unified channel programme that allows us to give the ABB seal of approval to our network members as well as enabling us to develop a network capable of providing exactly the products and services that meet our customers' demands.
Furthermore, we want to ensure that ABB is the easiest supplier to work with, encompassing everyone from design engineers and process line managers to procurement experts.
From 2011 onwards we have been bringing our motors, machines, drives, robotics and control technology third party channel companies together within a new group wide channel program - the ABB Value Provider Program. Authorised members of this program that earn the label of quality as an 'ABB authorised value provider', consist of distributors, technical distributors, system integrators, panel builders and service providers.
One of the first companies to join the ABB Value Provider Program was PPE (Power Plant Electrical Technologies) of South Africa. For MD Mitch McAllister it has been a step-change in PPE's relationship with ABB: "As an integrated engineering and service company, PPE has been closely associated with ABB for over 10 years. But in the six months since we became an ABB authorised value provider for drives we have seen a step change.
"Our status in ABB has definitely been elevated, the level of cooperation and genuine openness has increased and the referrals have started to flow. As a medium sized company in the past we sometimes struggled to compete with the large suppliers on major green field projects. Now with ABB's full support we are in a much stronger position.
"The quality of ABB's engineering is never in doubt with customers. This stands us in good stead in the demanding conditions found in Africa, such as heat, dust, corrosive environments and poor power quality. However, there is a perception that this quality comes at a cost. Now with ABB's help we are changing perceptions as customers come to understand just how cost-effective we can be. The added advantage of being the ABB authorised value provider is that customers also have the comfort of knowing that their solutions have the long-term support of a major international product brand.'
Members of the ABB authorised value provider network offer sales, support, service and engineering in seamless cooperation with ABB. They have in-depth knowledge of local markets and are conversant with the defined ABB products and processes, bringing world-class and globally consistent products and services straight to the customer's front door. Each of them offers a particular set of skills and services, and collectively they can tackle ABB's diverse portfolio of products and services based on specific customer needs. ABB works together with these providers to pursue continuous quality improvement, ultimately benefiting all of our customers.
For Phil Newman, National Sales Manager of Remtron Automation in Australia, the authorisation of the channel programme is a matter of particular pride: "Remtron Automation has around 30 years experience in Australia's automation and industrial control market. But our relationship with ABB is relatively young, starting as a technical distributor three years ago and becoming a member of the ABB Value Provider Program only in June.
"The strength of our business is its diverse scope, from industrial switchgear to process control to drives and power quality for end user markets, including food and beverage, automotive, power and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Putting this together with ABB's wide product portfolio is providing a powerful combination. This enables us to deliver innovative automation solutions and improve the customer's energy efficiency.
"In becoming an ABB authorised value provider we have found that the relationship with ABB is completely transparent and open and we feel embraced as an extension of the ABB brand. This has helped build confidence and good communication on both sides, from both technical and commercial aspects. The new model is already helping to grow our business by opening up lots of new doors and we are proud to display the membership accreditation on our website and on our building.'
Quality not quantity
The ABB authorised value provider network is all about quality rather than quantity.
Common professional business planning provides the foundation for a successful long-term partnership while the quality of services is assured via a rigorous and consultative assessment process, covering both facilities and equipment as well as personnel competence.
Channel companies are carefully selected with the sole objective to meet the purchasing needs of customers within the target market by offering the ideal combination of an optimised product portfolio and high quality services.
RDS of Ireland is a perfect example of a small company within the ABB authorised value provider network, as joint owner Ken McNevin says: "We have worked with ABB since RDS was founded in 2005. We became members of the Robotic partner programme in 2008 and the progression to the ABB Value Provider Program in 2011 has been quite seamless. The biggest change we have experienced is the effort that ABB is putting into promoting the new programme and the authorized offering of the network members and this has provided a welcome boost to our own profile.
"As a company operating in Ireland's small robotic market we need the flexibility to address a wide range of markets - food and beverage, plastics, medical device, pharmaceutical and metal fabrication - with products from small high speed picking robots to large palletising robots. ABB's robotic range is extensive and it has the market reputation as a high quality product. The support we receive through the ABB Value Provider Program, including the availability of a wide range of accessories, such as force control, pickmaster, conveyor tracking and vision enables us to provide high quality solutions at competitive prices.'
The network of ABB authorised value providers was created to deliver the optimum portfolio of services and solutions for customers worldwide. ABB is proud to be associated with them and through training, auditing and authorisation to support them in providing globally consistent high quality solutions and services and local availability of ABB technology to complement their in-depth knowledge of local markets.
The final word goes to Arthi Srinivasan, Business Strategy and Operations, for Powertech Switchgear Industries of the UAE, one of the very latest members of the network for ABB authorised value providers:
"After 15 years as a technical distributor of ABB low voltage drives for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) applications, we have just stepped up the relationship to become an ABB authorised value provider. Like many markets, price is an issue, but it is really product reliability and quality that sells. ABB products, together with our expertise and service, have proved a successful combination.
"The transition to becoming an ABB authorised value provider required significant commitment from us in creating new agreements and undertaking training. But receiving ABB's seal of approval is already showing important benefits in increasing the confidence of customers in dealing with us. We also benefit from ABB's high level of technical advice and support and the availability of a strong local service organisation. The strong synergy between ABB and Powerless is important in helping us deliver the consistent and high quality project delivery that is vital for customer satisfaction. We are looking forward to using the status as ABB authorised value provider as a path for opening up new market segments and thanks to this great relationship we are very optimistic for the future."
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Rauno Ahola, Channel Manager of the Discrete Automation and Motion Division, ABB Oy, Helsinki, Finland. www.abb.com.