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 About Plant Link

Plant Link S.L. is a privately owned, Spanish registered company, founded in 1995. It specialises in the supply of components, services and test equipment to the automotive industry. Headquarters are in Cadiz, Spain.

Plant Link S.L. has three operating segments

Supply Management -
Management of the supply of material to European automotive manufacturers including the sale of components, memory devices & microprocessors.

Automotive Services -
Provision of engineering & supply services to the automotive industry

Custom Test Equipment -
The design, development & manufacture of test equipment for the automotive industry

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Automotive Services

Plant Link was created in 1995 with the goal of providing the automotive industry with the key services and products needed in today's competitive environment. Since its start Plant Link has proven extremely successful in managing product quality and supply coordination for companies engaged in the provision of components to automotive manufactures. An important part of the Plant Link service is determining what the automotive customer wants, when he wants it and ensuring it is delivered on time. This may sound like a simple task, but often it is not. In most industries the supplier expects the customer to order what he needs. Not so with many automotive customers. They expect their suppliers to determine what to ship by connecting in to their data bases. The information may have errors and may not give the true picture. Quantities may change with in "lead time." The automotive customer however may well consider it is the supplier's responsibility to detect the errors and requirement changes. Usually there are complications in the interpretation of the supply requirement information communicated and also in the methods used to make the physical connection to download it.

Fundamental to the Plant Link success story are two factors, the employment of the best and most experienced personnel in the industry and the automation of as many processes as possible. The founders of Plant Link already had many years experience working in automotive supply, automotive quality and resident engineering. The electronic test equipment design facility at Plant Link provides masses of technical support and capability to the company. We have been able to develop an extensive range of dedicated software to resolve every aspect of the supply business.

The net result has been a virtually faultless supply coordination record since the start of Plant Link in 1995. In 1999 Plant Link was presented with Intel's “Automotive Contractor Appreciation Award” and in 2002 with Intel's "Q&R Support Recognition & Appreciation Award."

Downloading Customer Requirements
The automotive industry uses a variety of different communication systems and data formats to provide information and their weekly supply requirements. A supplier is expected to use the methods of each of his automotive customers and normally can not use his own. It is necessary to connect to the automotive customer at least once per week (may be daily), download and interpret the data and then organise supply accordingly. The systems vary widely in both the physical connection and how information is presented. Commonly it is expected that the supplier obtains the specialised terminals and/or software necessary and logs on to the to the customer data bases. A supply coordinator then reads and interprets the data and enters it manually in to the supplier system. The Plant Link solution is different and is a totally automated one. Plant Link have built electronic links in to every automotive customer and customer plant serviced. As each customer has different formats for transmission and data presentation, Plant Link has created software to extract the information and format it in a consistent manner. The data is then downloaded directly in to the Plant Link Supply Data Bases with out possibility of human error during the transfer process.

POU (Pay On Use) / Consignment Warehousing
If the automotive customer uses "POU" (Pay On Use) warehousing, then the situation gets very involved. There will be a greater amount of data that will need to be accessed, interpreted and acted upon. Material may be "line fed" in small quantities many times per day causing multiple daily inventory adjustments. Inventory control and supply requirement calculation become significantly more complicated. A data link or equivalent will be necessary to obtain status information from the POU. The warehouse operators may be performing hundreds of "line feeds" per day, hopefully with out a single human error. However, mistakes do happen even with extensive use of bar code equipment. This causes incorrect POU stock levels and/or incorrect requirement calculations. Unfair as it may seem, the automotive customer will often expect the supplier to detect and correct the errors. Plant Link resolved these issues with the Plant Link Supply Database.
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JIT (Just In Time)
A JIT (Just In Time) environment will reduce inventories and add pressure and often stress to the situation requiring frequent monitoring of customer requirement changes and warehouse information. Warehouse stocks are kept to a minimum and variation in planned builds by the customer can run stocks down dangerously close to zero. The automotive customer may consider it is the supplier's responsibility to monitor levels and ensure adequate stock despite the unpredicted changes. This may well mean that the supplier must provide a local supply coordinator who can visit the customer frequently, or actually work at the customer's site. Plant Link employ local and resident supply coordinators to help resolve these issues. The Plant Link Supply Database is crucial to correcting errors and keeping track of changes. Any quality issue putting material "on hold" can have disastrous effects. (See following section). Click here for more information on the Plant Link Supply Database.

Quality Support, Resident Engineers & Avoiding "Charge Backs"
Local quality support, or a "resident engineer" may be necessary to provide immediate reaction to quality issues. This is particularly the case if JIT (Just In Time) is in operation. With out this a quality problem can quickly lead to an "all stock on hold" status and a resultant "line stop." In the automotive industry this can soon result in a line stop at a car assembly plant. A "charge back" of the consequential costs is common and can become very expensive. A car assembly plant line stop is something to be avoided in all circumstances. Plant Link engineers have many years of experience in the product lines we serve and in the automotive quality issues encountered. We have been resolving automotive and component quality issues for more than 30 years. In addition, we ensure an engineer is with in a few hours of every automotive customer plant. At some plants we employ "resident engineers." Plant Link has proved very effective in preventing line stops. Local failure analysis by Plant Link engineers followed by problem isolation down to specific lots or by "screening" has enabled the release of sufficient material to keep the lines going.

SBI (Self Billing Invoice) & Payment Reconciliation
The POU warehouse can introduce massive complications when it comes to calculating payments received. The customer may well be making "line feeds" of material to his manufacturing facilities every few minutes. Each line feed triggers a payment. By the end of a year there can be thousands of payment line items. Occasional customer warehouse handling errors incorrectly identifying a lot number, component type, quantity, etc can create a nightmare when it comes to payment reconciliation. Plant Link is aware of many situations where reconciliation has never been achieved despite massive amounts of effort at the supplier. The problem was resolved by Plant Link engineers who automated the processes involved, developed specialised software and built electronic links to the customer financial data bases. In the last few years the Plant Link SBI Data Base has been successful in correcting >99% of all errors and achieving annual reconciliations to with in a few $s. Click here for more information




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