Strong supplier relations and active anticipation carry through times of uncertainty

Different raw materials have become hard to come by during the COVID pandemic. The war in Ukraine only made things more difficult and caused unprecedented increases in prices – especially in stainless and acid-proof steels, but also in other types of industrial raw materials. Luckily, these availability issues have so far had only a moderate effect on us here at TT Gaskets.

Almost all our raw materials come from European and North American manufacturers with whom we have long and close business partnerships. However, strong supplier relations are not enough on their own. First, we must be able to anticipate and predict different possible scenarios, and then find active and innovative ways to shape our own future.

Implementing our growth strategy and preparations for increasing uncertainty have hastened the development of our purchasing function. We have revamped our supplier review process and taken steps into improving our raw material tracking model. Tampere Universities’ AI-Champions program has been a valuable resource in generating ideas for combining our forecast models with artificial intelligence.

70 years of partnership is a valuable asset

Despite the pandemic making traveling difficult, our purchasing department has been able to find new sources of raw materials by e.g., auditing new suppliers remotely. Our greatest asset in this time of uncertainty has been our strong longstanding business relationships with the world’s top suppliers. We have established deep and mutually beneficial relationships with many of our partners, many of which have spanned several generations over 70 years. Shared commitment to quality and the courage for innovation have made our collaborations fruitful in many ways.

Even despite the ongoing crises we have received great and quick support from many of our suppliers. A warm thanks to our partners! Together we have been able to overcome challenging situations. Trust is a strong foundation for partnerships and carries through even the hardest of times.

The quest for alternatives is on

Versatility has always been a part of the TT Gaskets’ ethos. We are a comprehensive partner for sealing and gasket solutions for our clients, many of whom have been willing to work in even closer collaboration to find alternatives for their raw materials. This has given us the ability to react quickly when anticipation hasn’t been enough.

Investing in our Smart Lab has also amplified the work for finding alternatives. We have been able to produce technical evaluations, compression set calculations even faster and supported our clients’ FEM modelling to approve new alternatives and innovate new technical solutions in their early development phases.

Over 2.000 raw materials in stock

Our COVID taskforce and the executive team’s risk and new potential assessments have enabled an anticipatory and flexible approach for TT Gaskets. We have been able to tackle potential risks that we have observed in our supply chains.

We currently have approximately 120.000 active product items and a stock of over 2.000 raw materials. Our large stocking capacity has always been a motor for our flexible operating model and ensured raw material availability for our clients. Even before the COVID crisis we had increased our stock levels in anticipation of longer delivery times.

Having a sufficient buffer has proved to be a great decision. The yearly 20 percent increase in our turnover during the last two years has brought on positive challenges in terms of availability of certain raw materials. Additionally, the COVID pandemic has increased the delivery times of some of our materials:  even some of our most regularly used materials’ delivery times have risen from 4 to 44 weeks.

Increasing advantage from the solar power investments

The war in Ukraine has brought on sudden price increases of tens or even hundreds of percent for certain metals. Despite taking pre-emptive measures, this has had an influence on some of our end product prices.

Energy prices have also seen a strong increase, but we have been able to minimize the effects of rising expenses by investing into solar power. We implemented our first large solar investment in the summer of 2021, and in the coming summer 2022 we will double our solar power capacity. This enables us to cut our carbon emissions by 34.000 kilograms and generate over 25 percent of our energy consumption from the sun.

Here’s to hoping for a sunny spring! A warm thank you to all our excellent suppliers and customers! A strong will and open collaboration help us to overcome any challenge. We are also happy to welcome new and interesting additions to our sales personnel, enabling us to further deepen our customer collaborations and serve you in all your sealing needs.

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Aleksi Arpiainen

Aleksi Arpiainen is the CEO of TT Gaskets in the third generation. According to him, the success of a family business is fueled by continuous development and innovation. In the blog, Aleksi sheds light on his thoughts on where the world of gaskets is going.