robotic arms in a car plant

One of our valued customers within the automotive industry is the German-owned, multinational manufacturer, responsible for designing, building and distributing complex driver behaviours to a worldwide customer base.

The business unit employs a large R&D team focussed on product development, with core expertise in software and driver behaviour monitoring, reporting back crucial data to their customers. Being R&D-driven, the firm realised that their ongoing supply chain management – as non-core competency – was distracting from product and sales development.

Prior to Vanilla’s involvement, the customer purchased various sub-assemblies from numerous contract manufacturers around the world. Final assembly and testing would be conducted at their facility in the UK. Managing multiple global vendors, directing labour-intensive tests and running final products logistics from a small R&D office was challenging.

Volumes quickly grew, but forecasting proved unreliable. Bulky sales from a relatively small end-customer base required the firm to respond to large spikes in supply chain and production demand. The manufacturer was then offering extended lead times and low product availability, having to assist suppliers with sourcing and lead time management – its customers were beginning to lose confidence and needed an alternative solution. 

We quickly understood the various issues, common in other projects across the industry, and presented a solution that combined all our key services:

  • Consolidated the vendor base, migrating the management of existing printed circuit board (PCB) assembly suppliers, as well as introducing new improved contract manufacturing suppliers
  • Migrated final product assembly and test to our operations
  • Introduced improved build instructions, as well as final packaging specification, improving build time
  • Managed the client’s full logistics package, including end-customer direct fulfilment.

Following project approval, we looked to make small, easy-win improvements across various areas of the process. Subsequently, we improved test time and coverage, and located some minor design issues that were initially thought to be manufacturing defects. We also looked at alternative component parts and approved aspects with improved lifecycles and lower costs. The full project benefits were:

  • Improved product yield due to increasing quality in PCB assembly and suggested changes in board design
  • Improved costs through reduced build time and alternative materials
  • Reduced customer inventory and product lead time
  • Increased sales through improved product availability
  • Overall reduction in total cost of ownership.

The customer has now increased their own working capital, enabling further investment in future product development and increasing their sales presence.