Each unit is configured-to-order (CTO) and, due to the licensing agreements they have in place with end users, the OEM offers a 10-day repair service against each unit they sell, rather than replacing the units with a new one.
This can be a complex process to manage due to the way in which the software loaded onto the units is configured differently to each end user.
To meet the requested turnaround time, we needed to implement a robust, yet agile, process for receiving, assessing and repairing incoming units.
To begin with, a 'fast track' system was introduced, which meant incoming units from the OEM were sent directly to a dedicated repair line rather than being handled by our main logistics team.
The next stage involved setting up a line-side store for all the key items needed to repair the units, like outer metal enclosures, touchscreen displays and keypads. These were all replenished via a Kanban system. In addition to raw material, stock-agreed levels of PCBAs and “embryo” units were also held next to the repair line.
This allowed us to respond quickly to every eventuality – from a unit with a cracked display, through to one that was BER and would need to be replaced with a new unit.
Having separate stocks of PCBAs and “embryo units” dedicated to the repair line also meant that standard production orders would never be jeopardised.
Details of the current and future stock liabilities, delivery performance and repair trend analysis are reviewed on a quarterly basis as part of a more general business overview. Clearly, this level of support and stock level commitment requires a great deal of trust in the first place and then close monitoring by both parties on an on-going basis.
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