Kitron is an important supplier to Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace’s (KONGSBERG) defence operations. For several decades, KONGSBERG and Kitron have developed a unique collaboration where sustainability is high on the agenda. We have talked to Hans Petter Thomassen, Managing Director for Kitron in Norway, and Eirik Lie, President of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Lie explains what Kitron delivers to KONGSBERG’s defence operations today. “Kitron supplies important electronic components and produces many other components for us, both in missiles, weapons stations, communications and aerospace,” says Lie.
The collaboration between Kitron and KONGSBERG has taken place since the 1980s and affects the entire range of services that Kitron provides.
“In addition to the breadth of the portfolio, KONGSBERG is probably also the customer that uses the widest range of services we offer,” says Thomassen and continues. “Kitron is often involved in the early stages where products are in the development stage and further through industrialization. Then we participate and assist with series production around the world. Finally, Kitron also takes care of an important aspect of repair and maintenance,” says Thomassen.
Erik Lie of KONGSBERG agrees when he describes the collaboration between the two companies. “I would describe the collaboration with Kitron as very good. During the time we have worked together, we have seen a proactive attitude from Kitron and their employees that is very important to us. For example, when we established ourselves in the US some years ago, Kitron already had the plans ready and established themselves in the US as well. It was very important for our success with remote weapon stations in the United States,” says Lie.
In recent years, lack of raw material has been a challenge in general due to Covid-19. In this situation, KONGSBERG and Kitron have managed to ensure delivery capacity thanks to good planning and a proactive attitude. “Kitron monitors closely when there is a lack of components in the world and buys enough for stock and handles this issue for us. In other words: Kitron is important, and we have a very good collaboration,” states Erik Lie.
KONGSBERG has more than 8,500 suppliers globally, with about half of them being Norwegian. This means the company helps to safeguard jobs and build competence, not only where it has proprietary operations, but also to a large extent where it uses suppliers.
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility in the supply chain cover suppliers’ relationships with ethical guidelines, human rights, workers’ rights, anti-corruption, the climate and the environment. Systematic and good collaboration on corporate social responsibility in the supply chain is part of KONGSBERG’s strategy for responsible business operations. "An element that is important for KONGSBERG when it comes to handling the supply chain, is what we call Supplier Academy. Here we can communicate to many at the same time. We include our goals for sustainability as part of Supplier Academy, and we communicate what requirements we set for production,” says Lie.
These are the requirements Kitron and other suppliers must comply with when entering into agreements with KONGSBERG. “The collaboration between KONGSBERG and Kitron regarding sustainability materializes primarily through the flow of requirements from KONGSBERG. We have seen the set of requirements develop over time. One of the things that characterize that development is that they have gone from being "nice to have" requirements to being concrete, absolute requirements that materialize in the actual choice of suppliers,” says Thomassen in Kitron. “We take this further in our supply chain, where we operate with around 500 suppliers. The entire supply chain receives the set of requirements and the follow-up as an integral part of the collaboration we create.”
KONGSBERG specialises in developing advanced technologies, to provide extreme performance for extreme conditions. Working together as a global team, we have created an integrated portfolio of solutions, for businesses, partners and nations operating from the depths of the sea; to outer space; to the digital frontier.
Kitron is a leading Scandinavian Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) company for the Connectivity, Electrification, Industry, Medical devices and Defence/Aerospace sectors. With about 2800 highly skilled employees, the company manufactures and delivers anything from fully assembled electronic circuit boards to complete end products for customers globally. Kitron has operations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, China and the United States.
"The relationship between KONGSBERG and Kitron has a long history. We have almost 40 years of collaboration. Over that time, we have built a sense of security in the relationship. We have built a wide range in which service range KONGSBERG uses at Kitron. We have been challenged time and time again to be able to expand the range of services,” says Thomassen of Kitron.
“Having a large subcontractor chain that supports the sustainability goals we have is very important. Kitron is a very good example, at the same time as we work with a lot of companies in this area,” concludes Erik Lie of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.