“Forecasting is the magic word.”
Pride Mobility is the market leader in electric medical mobility applications. These are respectable volumes. The originally American company has its European headquarters in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands. Here, the vast majority of sales, assembly and distribution take place mainly within the EU. Roger Uijtendaal is Supply Chain and Purchase manager there and responsible for bringing all goods flows together. All items for mobility scooters, power lift recliners and power chairs must come together exactly according to customer requirements so that they can be assembled and delivered. Due to corona, the current situation in global trade and logistical problems, there are special challenges. Roger takes us through those challenges, where cooperation with Intercel is essential. After all, without the right battery, the desired mobility is out of the question.
An interview with Roger Uijtendaal, Supply Chain en Purchase Manager at Pride Mobility.
Substantial volumes, please tell?
“We have 15 suppliers directly related to mobility equipment. In total, we have about 4,000 items continuously in stock. Also 30 types of batteries with a stock of around 500. Every month there are 10 sea containers with mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs somewhere on a world sea sailing to us. Our customers are all over Europe from Scandinavia to Spain. Because we have to comply with many and heavy certifications as a medical product supplier, our suppliers are also indirectly affected by this. You can probably imagine that because of the volumes and necessary nature of the products, it has to be a well-oiled machine that runs like Swiss clockwork.”
And how do you do that??
“Forecasting is our magic word, which allows us to make precise agreements and switch quickly with our suppliers. The cooperation with Mark Paping (responsible for European sales at Pride Mobility) is very important here. Every week, the latest state of affairs is discussed in detail. I directly translate these figures into the consequences for our supply chain and purchasing. Batteries are also an important part of this, as they are indispensable in our end product. We have regular meetings with Intercel to discuss our forecast, so that they have optimal information about the desired products and delivery times. In this market, delivery reliability is perhaps the most important thing, and Intercel knows how to meet our needs like no other. Delivery is precise and, above all, fast! The next day, the batteries are in our warehouse, something no other supplier manages to do so quickly.”
What is your philosophy when it comes to purchase & supply chain?
“Pride Mobility is committed to delivering the highest quality at the best price. We have been good at that for a long time. Our delivery reliability scores particularly high and is almost unique in this market. We excel at this through our forecasting approach. But sometimes, of course, it is also the most difficult part of my job. With us, it’s not just about existing customers who have predictable demand, but because of our rapid growth in Europe, new customers are frequently added. For example, when special batteries are requested, Intercel always has the right product. I have never experienced that they could not deliver. Especially given our strict requirements with regard to certification, that is very special.”
What does sustainability mean to you?
“CSR is very concrete to us, our product has to last particularly long. In doing so, we innovate ourselves, a recent example being the development of the new Luna Z for a 10-year use. A big step, with which we once again set the benchmark as market leader. Batteries also need to last as long as possible. When end-users do not know how to handle a battery, problems can arise there. We do a lot of education and help end users use the battery in the best possible way.”
AGM, Lead Carbon or Lithium batteries?
“AGM is still widely used but Lead Carbon looks set to become the standard for us. The price is good, the performance is excellent and this technology is the right bridge towards a Lithium battery. Because we supply medical equipment and the certifications are very demanding, Lithium will need further development. Lead Carbon has the great advantage of being more resistant to user error. This battery has a high resistance to short and deep discharges. And the user benefits from a longer service life. That is one of the big advantages over AGM batteries. The fact that the Lead Carbon battery can be 99% recycled is of course also a big plus!”
How would you describe your partnership with Intercel?
“A very nice collaboration. Always when I call I have an immediate answer and they are proactive. I don’t have to go after anything. They are often ahead of me with an answer to a question I wanted to ask. Another good example of our partnership is that Intercel itself has placed test equipment with us for any warranty cases. With agreements like this, working together becomes so much easier. They are communicatively strong and very reliable. They move with our demanding requirements and deliver the right quality. They advise us gladly and well. They really think along with us and suggest innovations in battery technology. We benefit from this together.”