Fuel for Digitalization


In the era of digitalization nothing happens without them: new ideas. A particularly large number of them come from Korea. One of the marketplaces for new ideas is Autoparts & Accessories (KOAA) Show in Seoul. Korea's biggest supplier show is the ideal place to keep an eye out for innovative suppliers.

The paths through Silicon Valley in California are already well beaten. Those in Pangyo Techno Valley in South Korea are relatively freshly paved, however. Over the last ten years, the Korean government has built a taxpayer-funded think-tank city about twenty kilometers southeast of the ten-million metropolis of Seoul. Researching and developing away behind facades of glass, steel, and concrete are nearly 1,000 companies. Most of them are start-ups. A number of them have moved here from the Gangnam district of the eponymous pop music. Seven of the 10 biggest Korean gaming manufacturers have settled in Pangyo, where some 60,000 people now work. Clearly the fuel for digitalization doesn’t just come from the technology giants Samsung and LG.

One of the marketplaces for new ideas relating to the automobile is located forty kilometers from Pangyo Techno Valley. The KOAA Show in Seoul, the largest supplier show in Korea, where some 350 exhibitors presented themselves over three days. Mercedes-Benz is the only automotive manufacturer at the show, exhibiting here for the second time after its debut last year. “The KOAA Show is a good platform for reinforcing existing supplier contacts and keeping an eye out for new Stimulus,” explained Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement & Supplier Quality (MP). The MP stand at the KOAA Show draws visitors like a magnet. The two exhibits, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan and the Mercedes-AMG GT S, are popular selfie motifs. As well as the meetings arranged before the show, there are many spontaneous encounters with suppliers.

The main question from suppliers in their initial discussions: How does one become a supplier to Daimler AG in the first place? The detailed answer to this is provided at the Business Forum held by Mercedes-Benz Cars. In addition, the 150 or so Korean suppliers in the event auditorium are given an overview of the structure and modus operandi of Mercedes-Benz Cars Procurement & Supplier Quality (MP). It quickly becomes clear that E-mobility, and in particular the continuing advance of digitalization, are decisively changing the procurement processes. The audience has been similarly impacted. No one is taking notes. Smartphones record it all. The suppliers also photograph the presentation slide that shows the three levers for success: Innovation, Top Quality, and Partnership Cooperation. The MP presentation is supplemented by a presentation of the activities of Research & Development Korea.

For sure, one doesn’t become a supplier of Mercedes-Benz from one day to the next. It is a long process and there are many steps to climb on the way to success. And potential suppliers need a green light at every step before they can go another step higher. The initial contact, the company presentation, the analysis, system integration, workshops, and trial deliveries. The Korean supplier Hyundam shows just how far the ladder can go. It was honored with the Daimler Supplier Award 2015 in the category of “Quality” for its fuel conveyor module. For its top manufacturing standards and excellent development and production processes.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan: Combined fuel consumption: 6.3-3.9 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 144-102g/km; efficiency class: B-A+.
Mercedes-AMG GT S: Combined fuel consumption: 9.6-9.4 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 224-219 g/km; efficiency class: G.

Nov 04, 2016
Rasmus Muttscheller