Arlanxeo’s Michael Liesfeldt: “Now our SC is aligned to the business strategy”

Chemicals companies need to deliver profitable growth in a hyper-competitive and low-growth environment. Many are undergoing mergers and acquisitions in order to survive. Lanxess, the German based global producer of specialty chemicals has undergone significant realignment, including new options for backward integration to strengthen the synthetic rubber business.

Michael Liesfeldt has been responsible for realigning the supply chains due to the internal merger of two of the company’s large rubber units. He joined Lanxess in 2013 after many years experience with the Dow Chemical Company. Based firstly in Singapore for the company’s synthetic rubber section he relocated to Cologne last year. After the successful business unit merger he joined Arlanxeo, a new joint venture between Lanxess and Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

What is your responsibility regarding the supply chain?

“I returned to Germany in 2015 to head the global supply chain of the newly formed business unit Tire & Specialty Rubbers which resulted from the merger of very different organizations, processes and cultures. In April 2016 I joined the company’s new joint venture, Arlanxeo.

With my multi-national experiences I was able to bring in a rather non-Germanic approach. We did a lot of realignment in the business and had to manage the challenges of a big culture clash: American; Dutch, Canadian; Brazilian, French; Belgium, Singaporean, German etc. work cultures had all come together over the years from various other companies. Now we bring in a Saudi culture as well, all of which makes it a very interesting place to work. I am a strong believer in people – rather than technology – to unlock the value in the supply chain.”

What is the strategy of the Company (or Division/Supply Chain): Operational Excellence, Product Leadership or Cus tomer Intimacy?

“Arlanxeo is a leading global supplier of synthetic elastomers which are used in many applications from tires and the automotive industry to health care. In the company we have 20 production sites globally that are close to our customers. Hence, we act locally but we strive for operational excellence on a global level through global governance: Operational excellence is especially important in manufacturing, and we do a lot of benchmarking. This can be cumbersome because we are working with many working cultures so what works in Germany might not work in Brazil.
We have done a lot to harmonize work processes and systems and address the different cultures and we are adjusting our offerings to meet future trends like E-mobility, down-sizing, light weight vehicles, new regulations etc. Now we aim to fully understand all external drivers and trends so that we can be pro-active in our supply chain offerings and create value.
The partners (Lanxess and Aramco) are now discussing how we will optimize further our supply chain. We are just at the start of the journey but ultimately the JV will address the challenges we have with competitive access to feedstock as well as optimizing our supply and value chains.”

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Read the full article in Supply Chain Movement 24 | Q1 – 2017

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