From Shenzen with love

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A problem with James Bond’s car is guaranteed to get the attention of the popular press. Maybe the indicators no longer drop down in time when machine guns fire.  Or could it be a problem with the ejector seat?

In real life, of course, the reason for Aston Martin’s recall of some 17,000 cars is rather more prosaic. However, it says a lot about supply chain visibility and risk management.

The problem is the risk of breakage of the throttle pedal arm owing to the use of counterfeit plastic in its construction. And in a letter to regulators in America, Aston Martin set out just how far down the supply chain the problem arose.

The complete throttle pedal assembly was manufactured in the UK by the tier one supplier. The pedal arm itself was manufactured by a second tier supplier in Hong Kong. This tier two supplier appointed a sub-contractor in Shenzen in China to mould the pedal arms – the tier three supplier.  And the counterfeit material used by the tier three supplier was supplied by another company in China.

Keeping track of this information must be a nightmare – especially when you consider that the average car contains some 30,000 parts. Perhaps it is not surprising that Aston Martin has decided to move production of pedal arms from China to the UK as soon as possible in 2014.

And perhaps even less surprising is the fact that the issues raised by this will come under scrutiny at the Logistics and Supply Chain Conference which takes place in London in April. In particular, it will look at on-shoring and near-shoring, and the role of outsourcing.

It will also include a series of sessions in which winners in the 2013 European Supply Chain Excellence Awards talk about their supply chain strategies. 

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