HCD, the Letchworth, UK-based contract electronics manufacturer, is well aware that the combined effects of deep recession followed by a faster-than-expected recovery and the tragic tsunami in Japan have made sourcing some components challenging. A further complication is the proliferation of grey market traders operating on the internet means that it is becoming increasingly common to see counterfeit components in the supply chain. These are just some of the reasons why Purchasing Manager Annette Coxall is such a vital part of the operation at HCD.
Coxall was recruited to join HCD by Co-Founder and Commercial Director, Carol Holmes, to whom she reports. “We had a specific brief,” says Holmes. “Up to that point I was doing all the purchasing myself and needed someone who would learn my techniques straight away, which Annette has done very well.”
“I was delighted to join Carol and the highly professional team here at HCD,” comments Coxall. “Probably the best justification of our approach is that have never yet been beaten despite sourcing many hundreds of different electronic components for the diverse range of boards and products manufactured by the company. However, neither would we ever risk our customers’ products with components that were not 100% correct.”
Coxall is a highly-experienced purchasing specialist, having built up a wealth of knowledge in various electronics manufacturers, CEMs and distributors before moving to HCD.
However, before Coxall and her team even get to the point of having to deal with a shortage or long-lead items, HCD will have taken steps to prevent the issue ever occurring in the first place. HCD is unusual in that it started as a PCB design house, adding PCB assembly, cable assembly and box build as the demands of its customer base grew. This means that the company has the technical ability to evaluate a board prior to the start of a job and will advise on possible alternative components that may be easier to source, cheaper or more appropriate.
Coxall adds: “Certain components are difficult at the moment – relays, film caps, high CV MLCs, some FPGAs – but in general we are getting through this period pretty well and we have never let a customer down. One of the reasons that we manage the supply chain so effectively here at HCD is that whoever begins a BOM continues with it from initial quote, through any revisions and into production. This means that one person ‘owns’ the job and understands it fully. In this way we avoid many pitfalls and still deliver a quality product to our customer on time, every time.”