Volvo Buses wants suppliers who dare to challenge

Challenge. Think long term and be keen to innovate.
If you can do that, you have a good chance of becoming a supplier to Volvo Buses. That’s the message from Johan Lindqvist, Strategic Purchasing Director, Volvo Buses, when he was a guest at Elmia Subcontractor on Wednesday.

Volvo Buses operates in all parts of the world and annually produces about 9,000 buses under five different brands. Today the company has 500 direct suppliers – and its demands are high.
“As well as delivering at the right time with the right quality and the right volume, I value suppliers who don’t just do what we say but are also proactive,” Lindqvist says. “People who suggest ideas and solutions that we don’t always ask for. And if you have anything really good, don’t let yourself be put off if we say ‘we’re not really ready for that’.”

Because Volvo Buses has factories in various parts of the world, it is important that suppliers can adapt to the various markets, he adds.
“We want to find suppliers who can serve all our markets – though that doesn’t mean they have to be a huge company. After all, we only produce 9,000 units a year, which is fairly small compared with the car industry, for example.
“Another requirement is that our suppliers must think in the long term and not be looking to make a quick buck. That’s how we think and we want to work with people who share the same approach.”
In recent years Volvo Buses has undergone a major technological transformation. For example it is no longer possible today to buy urban buses with diesel engines; all of them are hybrids. Another field that is being developed is service – in such areas as driver training, traffic operation and management systems etc.
“We need suppliers who can offer knowledge and expertise. We’re on new ground and we willingly admit that we can’t know everything.”

What is your view on your suppliers having other bus manufacturers as customers too?
“We want to be an important customer but not too important. No supplier can be more dependent on us than 30 percent. If they work with other bus companies that’s actually a strength because it increases their expertise – and ensures we don’t miss anything.”

Johan Lindqvist, Strategic Purchasing Director, Volvo Buses, was interviewed on stage during Elmia Subcontractor.
Johan Lindqvist, Strategic Purchasing Director, Volvo Buses, was interviewed on stage during Elmia Subcontractor.