Prices for Estonian military equipment up by a third, producers under pressure | News

Individual equipment purchased for EDF members includes various uniforms, boots, helmets, body armor and body armor, carrying systems and harnesses, gas masks and protective suits, backpacks, protective clothing sleeping, tents and more, Robert Käsper, soldier category manager at ECDI’s procurement department, according to a press release.

Although European companies generally participate in ECDI purchases in this area, their production has sometimes been relocated elsewhere, mainly in Asia. This fact had a very strong impact on purchases a few years ago, as China locked down in almost all sectors during the COVID-19 epidemic, and transport from major Asian ports was also difficult to find. arrange. Fabric deliveries did not arrive as quickly as expected, resulting in delays in finished products.

“Hats worn under helmets and neck warmers, for example, were two products that we were rather worried about for some time,” Käsper said. “The Estonian manufacturer was supposed to receive fabrics from China to make them, but they were delayed for a very long time. Another example, we ordered berets from the Czech Republic for a very specific time, but because of COVID, the factory which manufactures berets has simply been closed for three weeks.”

War in Ukraine affecting availability

Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has affected the availability of personal equipment in Europe for three main reasons, according to ECDI.

First, raw materials are mostly sourced from the Far East, and there are signs that delivery times have already increased from the status quo. Second, many volunteer organizations and companies are working hard to provide Ukrainian troops with essential protective equipment. As a result, producers are facing intense pressure, stocks are largely depleted and new production has to wait longer to be delivered.

Third, Western European countries began to think more about better equipping their own defense forces, replenishing their stocks and renewing the personal equipment they had been using so far.

However, the Estonian center noted that it had a very good network of contacts and a relationship of trust with its suppliers and manufacturers, which contributed to the timely delivery of important supplies to EDF.

Elements of an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) soldier’s uniform. Source: Joakim Klementi/EDF, Sodur

Constantly evolving EDF gear

In addition to the global instability of recent years, purchases must also always take into account the fact that the equipment sought is also constantly evolving, just like clothing for example.

“Materials, patterns, compatible products, comfort and more change, and we try to keep up with the latest developments,” the category manager explained.

Natural materials are used less and less in clothing because they are not strong enough and light enough, while the middle layers may not be breathable. In its clothing purchases, ECDI is also moving towards the requirement to use as many recycled materials as possible.

“When clothes last longer, it creates less waste,” Käsper said. “It is increasingly important to us that the purchases are also environmentally friendly – ​​for example, in terms of the dyes and the chemicals used to produce the clothes.”

In cooperation with the EDF, the ECDI is currently in the process of updating the EDF uniforms to make them more modern as well as to better meet the latest EDF needs.

According to Käsper, there are a lot of small details to consider, from the durability of the materials – because new materials coming onto the market are many times more durable than the current ones – to whether the fit of the uniform pants is good enough to prevent them from bursting at the seams when long strides are taken in any direction.

There have also been developments in the footwear market. While classic EDF uniform shoes are still made from genuine leather, they are often combined with socks and textiles to make the shoes more breathable and to prevent chafing when new.

Russian and Belarusian subcontractors excluded

Today, supply chains are also affected by a wide range of macroeconomic trends. On the one hand, rising raw material prices and labor costs have put strong pressure on manufacturers’ prices, forcing some suppliers to look for new ways to reduce their costs, including increasing the share components produced in countries with lower labor costs.

On the other hand, geopolitical currents, as well as high transportation costs, are forcing many producers to take a closer look at the overall costs of their supply chain and to take certain risks to increase security of supply.

“We have currently excluded the use of Russian and Belarusian companies as subcontractors in our purchases, but it is neither justified nor feasible to exclude, for example, certain components and raw materials from China,” said Kasper.

New supply system

ECDI uses four dynamic procurement systems, with 10-17 bidders typically involved in each procurement. “These bidders, or partners, can be present at each procurement, submit bids for different lots and opt out of the bidding if they prefer,” the category manager explained.

A dynamic purchasing system also allows the contracting authority to purchase products and services according to groups of products defined by a procedure similar to the reopening of a competition — in legal terms, a related contract — according to need. A dynamic bidding system allows bidders to be added over the life of a contract, helping to ensure continued competition.

As a result, many more bidders and much more work are involved in each procurement, but according to ECDI, the new process will also lead to better delivery times and lower prices. This is particularly important in the current context, where the war in Ukraine has caused the prices of almost all product groups to rise by a third in a short time. This price increase has put all of ECDI’s military equipment manufacturers under great pressure.

ECDI organizes contracts for the Ministry of Defence, EDF and other institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence, manages and develops its real estate assets.

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