Supplies and raw materials

We purchase a variety of raw materials and products which contain raw materials for use in our production and project execution processes. The primary materials used in our products, by weight, are copper, aluminum, carbon steel, mineral oil and various plastics. We also purchase a wide variety of fabricated products and electronic components. We operate a worldwide supply chain management network with employees dedicated to this function in our businesses and key countries. Our supply chain management network consists of a number of teams, each focusing on different product categories. These category teams, on global, divisional and/or regional level, take advantage of opportunities to leverage the scale of ABB and to optimize the efficiency of our supply networks, in a sustainable manner.

Our supply chain management organization’s activities have continued to expand in recent years, to:

  • pool and leverage procurement of materials and services,
  • provide transparency of ABB’s global spending through a comprehensive performance and reporting system linked to all of our enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems,
  • strengthen ABB’s supply chain network by implementing an effective product category management structure and extensive competency-based training, and
  • monitor and develop our supply base to ensure sustainability, both in terms of materials and processes used.

We buy many categories of products which contain steel, copper, aluminum, crude oil and other commodities. Continuing global economic growth in many emerging economies, coupled with the volatility in foreign currency exchange rates, has led to significant fluctuations in these raw material costs over the last few years. While we expect global commodity prices to remain highly volatile, some market volatility will be offset through the use of long-term contracts and global sourcing.

We seek to mitigate the majority of our exposure to commodity price risk by entering into hedges. For example, we manage copper and aluminum price risk using principally swap contracts based on prices for these commodities quoted on leading exchanges. ABB’s hedging policy is designed to safeguard margins by minimizing price volatility and providing a stable cost base during order execution. In addition to using hedging to reduce our exposure to fluctuations in raw materials prices, in some cases we can reduce this risk by incorporating changes in raw materials prices into the prices of our products (through price escalation clauses).

Overall, during 2013 supply chain management personnel in our businesses, and in the countries in which we operate, along with the global category teams, continued to focus on value chain optimization efforts in all areas, while maintaining and improving quality and delivery performance.

In August 2012, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its final rules regarding “Conflict Minerals”, as required by section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We have initiated processes, including working with our suppliers, to enable us to comply with these rules, and to assist our customers regarding their disclosure obligations, as required by these “Conflict Minerals” rules. Further information on ABB’s Conflict Minerals policy and supplier requirements can be found under “Material Compliance” at