minutes de lecture

"More than ever, I have to absorb the uncertainty and stress of transportation" - Veronique Danciu (Asteelflash)

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Every month, OVRSEA meets with its shipper customers to discuss the latest freight and logistics news and future challenges. This week, we meet with Véronique Danciu, worldwide transport manager of Asteelflash Group, a French electronics manufacturer with a worldwide presence. For The Merchant, she talks about her daily life, which has been turned upside down by the crisis.

Hello Veronique! Can you introduce yourself?

I've been Asteelflash's Director of Worldwide Import and Export for almost 8 years. I am definitely familiar with anything international: born in France, I grew up in Africa, spent my summers in England, my spring vacations in Italy when I was young and now I work in the United States. I also know the transportation industry very well, as I have spent my entire professional life in this sector.

What is Asteelflash?

We are an international EMS (Electronics Manufacturing Services) whose core business is the design and production of electronic assemblies and sub-assemblies. Asteeflash was founded in 1999 by Gilles Benhamou, who has managed, in just twenty years, to reach a turnover of one billion euros. Although the group was bought out at the end of 2020 by the Chinese-Taiwanese USI, we have retained our independence. We have more than 5000 employees worldwide.

What are the characteristics of the company on the transport side?

My scope as a transportation director extends from the west coast of the United States to the east coast of China. We have 17 production sites around the world, 13 of which are in Europe, but also in Tunisia, Asia and the Americas. So I have to take care of the supply of components to 17 factories, from a transportation and customs point of view, and then the forwarding of the assembled products around the world. This, of course, with the support of very dynamic logistics teams.

What are your main concerns at the beginning of this year, which is once again marked by widespread uncertainty?

All my daily concerns have been converging for the past few months on the question of capacity. How to find it? How to avoid last minute blank sailings? To keep up, you have to be as proactive as ever. And we learned to be proactive early on, since Covid threatened our Chinese production site at the end of 2019. We were among the first to feel the wave rising and to adapt.

In what way?

For example, we immediately extended our lead times in our systems. I knew that we would have to wait longer and longer for space in the air and that the demand would shift to the sea. But we hadn't predicted the obscene behavior of the shipping companies afterwards...

How has this unprecedented crisis changed the way you manage Asteelflash's transportation?

This crisis has profoundly changed the way we operate. Before, I had a well-oiled organization with annual calls for tender and air and sea negotiations for one year. Now, I work on a day-to-day basis and on quotations for 17 sites around the world. The increase in workload is enormous and my role is more than ever to absorb the uncertainty and stress of transportation, working behind the scenes to keep other teams and partners on track. This is also why I write a newsletter to show and explain the reality of transportation today. I wanted to make sure that transport is not forgotten in our company and by our customers.

Have health constraints made it more difficult to manage teams spread around the world?

Yes, after two years of not being able to see my teams, my legs are starting to tingle. I need to go to the production sites or the docks and talk face to face. Even if digital platforms have changed the game and become essential, human contact remains essential in our business.

To make matters worse, you have been hit hard by the global semiconductor shortage. Have you been able to avoid downstream supply disruptions?

We suffer from supply disruptions like the whole market and industry. There are significant delivery delays, but we manage to find solutions with our customers by being more flexible in production and with the support of our partners. The shortage of electronic components remains a harsh daily reality and we do not anticipate a clear improvement before 2023.

How do you see this year 2022?

Last November, I started to anticipate a return to normalcy for the beginning of 2022. My strategy was ready: negotiate the BSAs after the Beijing Olympics and put in place a 6-month plan. Then Omicron came along and everything deflated like a balloon. We are on stand-by. Between the component crisis and the transportation crisis, there are days when I spend my time putting out operational fires. But I'm still hopeful, we should have a clearer picture by spring!