In 2015, Plextek Ltd formally spun out Redtail Telematics, which provides turnkey vehicle telematics services to the fleet management and automotive insurance markets. Since 1993, Redtail have shipped more than six million tracking devices into line fit and aftermarket vehicles for stolen vehicle recovery. Redtail’s expertise in working collaboratively to answer challenging questions directs our efforts in working with OEMs to fulfil the potential of the connected vehicle, from line fit vehicle tracking with Mercedes Benz, through golf-cart battery health with Columbia Vehicle, to pothole detection with Jaguar Land Rover & Synaptiv.
A typical bill of materials (BOM) for one of our commercial or automotive high volume products includes details of as many as 600 to 1000 separate parts.
These typically include a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) within a custom enclosure, pre-packed and ready for use. It only takes a single part from our BOM to be missing to stop production – losing revenue than cannot be recovered.
Plextek consider this risk during the design phase before final commitments are made to parts selection. Single source components are avoided wherever possible and effort is dedicated into finding or designing for alternatives. This includes discussing changes of specification with the final customer. Alternative sources also assist in component price negotiations. However, particularly with high frequency RF components, it is not always possible to design for the use of alternatives because of footprint design or subtle performance issues.
Custom parts with dedicated tooling, such as PCBs or mouldings, will, by their very nature, be single sourced. However, to reduce supply risks, we pride ourselves in developing a close technical and commercial relationship with these suppliers. Although not preferred, Plextek’s owned tooling could also be moved in if there is no other option.
Once production is established, Plextek invests time in maintaining supplier relationships, both globally and nationally. However, ultimately the decisions taken during the design phase rather than during supplier communications will determine the overall level of risk to on-going supply.
By adopting this approach of reducing supply chain risk, Plextek have successfully delivered over 6 million units to a number of customers worldwide and have achieved agreed “cost-down” savings to the benefit of our customers.