Katrin Hanske: “Data transparancy remains a challenge”

Not many companies, let alone chemical companies, have women fully in charge of end-to-end global supply chain. Yet if supply chain requires good communication and collaboration, skills which women tend to be stronger in than men, why are there not more women in the business? Katrin Hanske, of Orion Engineered Carbon, believes they are possibly put off by the perceived amount of analytics. While data analysis is crucial this is far outweighed by the job satisfaction of daily decisionmaking and the ability to have a direct impact on the business, she says. Hanske has full responsibility for the german chemical company’s supply chain. “Choices have to be made every day so we educate people to take those right decisions, every day, every hour. more importantly, regardless of who in my team takes them I have the trust in the consistency of our decision making process built on standardized processes and systems globally.”

By Helen Armstrong

Chemical companies face growing pressure in supply chain as governmental regulations related to production, distribution and storage tighten. The number of service providers is declining as few want to take the investments required to engage with a product that they often assume will be dirty and hazardous. Orion Engineered Carbon is one of the world’s largest producers of Carbon Black, a solid carbon product that is widely used in the rubber industry, including the reinforcement of tyres. It is also used in speciality products such as coatings, polymers and printing. To optimise margins the Luxembourgish based company is continually analysing its product range and gathering intelligence which could allow horizontal collaboration to improve efficiencies. Katrin Hanske says supply chain is about making trade-offs. With the right mix of experience and young talent in her team she is building a lean robust supply chain than will be able to absorb the volatility in today’s market.

How do you define supply chain management?

“Managing the whole chain from supplier to end customer and Orion is no different. I am responsible for source, plan, make and deliver up to the customer, including indirect procurement, warehouse management and transportation.  However, it is important for companies to understand when there are benefits from integrating souring into the supply chain function and when to keep it separate.”

How did you arrive at the position you are in today?

“I have an engineering background. I studied microelectronics as a major and business administration as a minor. I worked for five years in the USA for a Joint Venture  between Motorola and Infineon Technologies working first in a plant environment on maintenance, then in operations on productivity improvements and later engaged in building new facilities in a period when the entire semi-conductor industry moved from 200mm technology to 300 mm. This was a massive breakthrough with huge capital investments. Then I returned to Munich with Infineon, later Qimonda. That was when I got involved in capacity planning, layout planning and flow management. We started to build a supply chain function from scratch and it was during this period that I realised the opportunities a strong supply chain function can bring to an organisation. I moved to Avery Dennison when Qimonda filed for insolvency and was responsible for its European Supply Chain Function. I joined Orion because I wanted to be back in a company with a global footprint and be able to work with people on both sides of the ocean. I enjoy the cultural differences.”

What are your main supply chain challenges?

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Read the full article in Supply Chain Movement 27 | Q4 – 2017

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