Interview with Andrea Ghigini of SGB-SMIT Group

UAE, Dubai: We bring you a brief interview from the ongoing Middle East Energy fair, this time with Andrea Ghigini of SGB-SMIT Group.

Hi Andrea, please introduce yourself in a few words.

Hi, my name is Andrea Ghigini and I am Global Strategic Procurement Manager in the SGB-SMIT Group. I have a long experience in the transformer industry, since I have started my career in the then called ABB, in Italy. I worked at different managerial positions, with experience abroad. For instance, I have been located in Poland for some time. My experience in ABB was 14 years long. After that, I moved to an OEM well-known for its industrial transformers, Tamini Trasformatori. They also produce power transformers, but industrial transformers are their top product. In March 2018, I joined the SGB-SMIT Group as a lead buyer responsible for materials and after a year I took on the position of the Global Strategic Procurement Manager. Currently, I manage a team mostly composed of lead buyers, so we take care about all material groups.

We’ve had the COVID-19 pandemic for the last two years and now there is also the war in Ukraine. How has it all affected your company in terms of the way you conduct your business, the volumes of your orders?

COVID-19 pandemic has definitely affected us. There have been many problems within the supply chain. To be honest, the first part of the pandemic was less complicated than the most recent period. People were frightened because the situation was new to us all. However, at the end of the day, we have not missed any output due to the fact that we have invested a lot of effort to procure the material, run the factory, and get the work done. From our general point of view at least, the situation was not that bad. However, during the last wave the impact was much higher because we had more people who were on sick leave and could not work. So, there were delays both on our side and on the suppliers’ side. Of course, in the first wave, we also had issues with transportation, it was difficult to find truck drivers, and so on. Now, it is even worse with the war in Ukraine because thousands of truck drivers working in Europe are actually Ukrainian citizens.

Due to the situation, we also had to review our business strategy for some components. For instance, it is impossible to procure materials for some components from Ukraine or Belarus, so you have to diversify and find other sources. So COVID-19 has not had such a huge impact as the ongoing war, since our supply chain has not significantly changed due to the pandemic.

Here we are again at the fair, after a two-year pause. What are your impressions from this year’s Middle East Energy?

For me, this fair in Dubai is definitely the biggest event after those two long years, with basically no meetings with suppliers. This is extremely important because people are the ones doing the business. To have a face-to-face contact in business is essential. Surely, we have learnt how to do business in a different way, I would say the pandemic has taught us that we had not earlier considered, at least not as a regular way of doing things. I do believe we will get back to that regular way, like attending this exhibition as well as others, but we will also keep on doing business remotely. So, it will be a mixture of the two.

Many companies have been facing issues in the supply chain. You have mentioned some. How have you handled them and do you have any solution for this global problem?

There are still issues in the supply chain and some are still yet to come. However, since it is exceedingly difficult to predict what will be the exact impact, it is also hard to find solutions. Of course, one of the solutions is to diversify the sources and thus minimise the risks. There are components that are already sourced in Europe, but there are also some arriving overseas from China, Japan, etc. There are no actual issues with the materials but rather with freight and delivery. We are trying to find some solutions, like rail transportation from China for instance. However, the situation is extremely tough and there are no key solutions one could put in place.

What trends do you expect on the market?

In general, I expect that the energy sector will remain strong in the near future. The issue still remains for the situation between Russia and Ukraine to be resolved but we believe the situation in transformer market and energy sector will be good in the coming years.