The Australian arm of France’s giant international electronics and systems group, Thales, has identified a Sydney-based technology solutions company, OEM, as a possible global partner.
Thales Australia’s Industry Engagement Unit is charged with facilitating opportunities for local companies within the Thales supply chain serving defence, aerospace and space, security and transport markets in throughout the world.
The advantages for industry include greater export opportunities, access to Thales’s extensive supply chains, increased knowledge of current and future projects, and direct connections with relevant Thales decision-makers across the business and around the world.
Thales Australia’s Purchasing Director, Michelle Richard, said OEM Technology Solutions had come to her attention as the result of a contract to provide 312 DVRs and 156 video display computers to Thales for the Downer-EDI Waratah train project’s Communications & Surveillance Subsystems.
Michelle, who has worked for Thales in France, Canada and the UK during a 20 year career, said that OEM have been in rail longer than Thales and the supplier due diligence process took very little time.
“They have the right credentials and everybody I’ve met has said OEM is extremely knowledgeable, often more than us,” she said.
For the Waratah Suburban Passenger Vehicle project, which involves 78 new train sets (624 carriages) for the Sydney Metropolitan train network, OEM was essentially a re-seller of a German product.
Thales could easily have bought direct from the manufacturer but, according to Michelle, the decision was taken to go via OEM in order to utilise the firm’s expertise for software integration and hardware configuration as well as have access to a local support centre.
“It was a very un-Thales-like thing to do but going with them proved a very, very wise decision on our part,” she said.
“We didn’t know the hardware like they did and they were very responsive and knowledgeable. If they hadn’t been there it would have been a lot more painful.
“They know their business and are extremely customer focused. When I talk to OEM requesting something they have someone available immediately and are extremely supportive, exactly the kind of behavior we want from a supplier.
“What they’re supplying is the very heart of the system and without their help we’d still be trying to figure some problems out.”
Thales has some 4000 suppliers in Australia and Michelle makes no bones about the fact that she believes they have 50% too many. But OEM is not on any hit list.
“I am a very strong supporter of OEM. They have a couple of niche products that are pretty cool. I wish I could buy more from them because when I’m looking for innovation I go to my suppliers.
“When I looked at them and the way they do innovative things, it opened my eyes to other avenues for Thales
“There are certainly some opportunities for OEM within Thales worldwide.
“For technological innovation the French normally will look to France first and then to Europe as we have a lot of technology in France where it is part of the culture. But there are some innovations at OEM that we’re interest in.
“Plus, they’ve positioned themselves with service.
“They’ve been extremely customer focused and knowledgeable and they’re not just ticking boxes and sending product off to a shipping address. They are actually adding value and expertise.
“Indeed, they add value to the entire process,” Michelle said.