At RPD, accelerating the pace of hardware innovation has always been at our core. Our team of incredibly talented engineers are constantly developing amazing products in London, whilst their efforts are realised by our Supply Chain team in Shenzhen, China. One of the Supply Chain team’s main objectives are to ensure that our network of factories remains high-quality, sustainable, and ethical. Any factory that wants to join our network has to pass a stringent factory audit. Here’s what we look out for!
Worker well-being and conditions
The primary concern for any manufacturing supply chain is the wellbeing of workers. We review every facility and any connected sites to ensure that all workers are treated fairly, and that the facility follows local laws and regulations. Where a factory provides housing and accommodation for their workers, we may also review this to ensure that the conditions are acceptable and reflective of the price deducted from any wages.
On-site safety is a key consideration – we’ll regularly review our factories to ensure that basic PPE is enforced and that all workers adhere to a HSE policy. As part of this we will also review machinery and facilities to ensure safety guards and other necessary equipment is fitted and functioning. We also review fire and emergency response situations, and how a factory may cope with an unlikely disaster.
We keep track of all of the machinery and capabilities of each of our factories, and how these are growing. We’ll pay attention to the age of machinery, and when it has been refreshed and refurbished. We review every facility on completion of every production, to evaluate how their performance and quality may be changing.
We spend a lot of time working with suppliers to establish how they work with their clients, and where their busy or quiet periods might occur. We do this to ensure RPD does not overload a factory at any point, or rely on a factory that may be nearing full capacity. Similarly we work with factories to identify their quiet periods and help them cover these times. We are often able to work with factories to keep costs low, as a result of filling time where they would have otherwise been operating at a reduced capacity.
Quality Control Measures and Processes
RPD integrates our own staff with factory QA and QC teams, to ensure that the necessary checks are being made and that process is in place. We also work with factories to help them develop their systems and processes for quality control. Each project will have its own QA/QC program, specific to the requirements of the product. However RPD needs to ensure that the factory has programs in place to document these specific processes, the results, the resolution steps for failure and the ability to forecast and prevent future issues.
Almost all of our clients hold environmental sustainability as a priority in their procurement program. We too aim to only support factories and logistics partners that make an effort towards the environment. In manufacturing facilities we are looking at how energy is used and sourced. We look at how materials are sourced and how a factory might reduce wastage in the preparation of stock. With logistics partners we will focus on those that have strong policies around green energy and strong standards for optimization of shipping routes and combining cargo to reduce travel.
Project Management Processes
We regularly review how a factory handles confidential information and how they deal with change and evolution through the production process. The majority of the work we handle is confidential, and has a large reliance on being first to market – making a factory’s data handling processes a key priority.
Financial Stability and Structure
We will also work with a factory to ensure their financial stability. We’re looking at ownership structures to ensure that all financial connections are appropriate and as higher quality as the facility. We will also work with the factory to ensure they are not overly reliant on a particular client or customer.
The primary factor in our selection process is to look at the other customer references. The majority of our clients are FTSE500 businesses with strict procurement processes – therefore we often look for facilities that also supply similar businesses. By doing this, we can be confident that the facility will meet our standards and benefit from our investment in auditing the facility.