A Foothold in Asia

Malaysian utility networks’ desire for quality fuels Ensto’s expansion in Asia.

Every customer will say they want quality. But it isn’t always the case.

“For Ensto to be present in a market, the market must demand quality and test according to quality,” says Perttu Lehtikangas, Ensto Regional Sales Director in charge of Ensto Utility Networks’ export business. “But too often, in the end, all that matters is price.”

Quality in Malaysia

To Malaysia’s S.A. Continental, however, quality was the driving factor behind its purchase of SLIW insulation piercing connectors (IPC) and medium voltage joint components from Ensto.

“Regarding IPC, there were a lot of complaints about poor quality from previous purchases,” says Datuk Said Anuar Said Ahmad, Continental’s Managing Director. “However, when TNB [the Malaysian electricity distributor and end customer] changed the requirement from class B to class A, some brands did not have their type test to comply.” Mr. Anuar is talking about the rigorous quality testing required to be certified to sell class A products in Malaysia.

Ensto’s Lehtikangas says it can be a journey of several years to receive the qualifications to sell. “To qualify the product alone can take six months to two years. It’s long-term development with the customer, visiting each other’s facilities, and understanding the customer needs and the product capabilities.”

To qualify in Malaysia, the customer visited Ensto for a full week. “They audited our Keila and Porvoo factories, our ISO systems, and did a thorough product audit,” says Christer Ohls, Area Sales Manager for SEA markets.

Two tenders and the future

After qualifying, Ensto competed for and won two tenders with S.A. Continental. The first tender was for IPC connectors and the second for jointing components – mainly shear head connectors and cold shrink joint bodies. One more tender is in progress for similar products.

TNB’s decision to upgrade the quality of its overhead and underground products will definitely impact the quality of electricity distribution to its customers. But it has had a strong impact on Ensto’s business, as well.  S.A. Continental SLIW connectors constitute the biggest single customer order of IPCs so far in Ensto’s history.

Historically, Ensto’s business model has been to produce a steady volume in smaller batches for wholesalers and distributors in the Nordics, Russia, and other European countries. “Southeast Asia is a rather new area and it creates a new type of demand for our production,” says Lehtikangas. “It could be the future for Ensto, but it all hinges on having clients like Continental who truly value quality.”

Trust as a value

As other markets in Asia upgrade their quality requirements, Ensto will do well to find more customers like Continental’s Anuar. “Ensto’s state of the art fully robotic manufacturing line for IPC connectors ensures that every single unit produced is of the utmost quality,” he says. “And the prompt after-sales gives the customer confidence.”

Anuar recognizes that doing business far from one’s Nordic roots is not always easy, and he values the trust that has been built between the two companies. “We would like to thank Ensto for trusting us to expand in Indonesia.”