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ODU has its own offshoremanufacturing facilities in Romania

Making worthwhile connections

Companies that manage their supply-chain effectively are the ones who stay in control financially. How do they do it, asks managing director of ODU Connectors UK, Stuart O’Donnell

Now,more than ever, companies that bestmanage their supply- chain seemtomaintain the best financial performance. So how is this achieved, especially at this time of volatility inmost industries?

Some companies have successfully out-sourced production,

allowing them to focus on their core competencies of technology and innovation. On the other hand, other companies have found that out-sourcing, especially off-shore, has yet to deliver on its initial promises, swapping one variety of supply-chain headache for another.

Most companies appear to think that out-sourcing can go only

so far, with flexibility and quality control the reasons for retaining production in-house. Yet the drive for cost-reduction is stronger than ever – so where does this leave us?

OEMs are rightly focussing on cost-reduction and on being lean,

and in this situation suppliers inevitably come under pressure to reduce prices. This is often accompanied by a demand for vendor- managed inventory or buffer-stock, so the OEMcan stay nice and lean, of course.

The answer, as far as ODU is concerned, is twofold. Firstly, ODU

has opened its own offshore manufacturing facilities, in Shanghai in 2001 and Romania in 2006, so as to contain costs. These are totally under our own management and control. Secondly, as suppliers, we need to be made fully aware of customer's needs to make an effective contribution to their future.

So what does the buyer-supplier partnershipmean in practice?

Armed with the complete picture, suppliers can better understand their role inmeeting customer requirements, now and in the future. Better than that, given the opportunity, we can usually come up with proposals that will add immediate value to both businesses. The objective beingmore supply-chain responsibility and profit for the supplier, with reduced overall costs andmore profit for customers.

20 | December 2010 For example, ODU

was able to find the right solution for a medical equipment manufacturer who required a connector, in fairly large quantities, that was sealed and had ‘snatch’ capability. It also needed to be as small and as economical as possible.

large and too expensive and it quickly became clear that a customised connector was the answer. This connector with six contact positions consists of one moulded part incorporating housing, strain relief, bend protection and sealing. Result: space envelope reduced by 50 per cent and installed cost reduced by 75 per cent.

ODU was also able to help a test equipment manufacturer who

was having technical problems in cutting cost from a new design that needed bulk-head connectors, handling mixed-signals.

The solution was to provide two sub-assemblies, each

incorporating a custom insert for a standard push-pull connector. This insert has two central coax contacts, with flying leads, to handle high-frequency signals and a further 16 signal contacts mounted onto a small PCB, with a section of flex-foil ending in an SMT connector to the main PCB. Result: technical problems solved and assembly time minimised, realising cost savings.

Ideas such as these only come about through discussion. Suppliers such as ODU provide a resource that could be

Customsub-assemblies helped a test equipment manufacturer cut costs in a new design

utilised more fully in these lean times.

Managing director ofODUConnectors UK, StuartO'Donnell, emphasises the importance of balanced buyer-supplier partnerships

Even the ODUMedi-Snap push-pull medical connector was too

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