from Craig Hume, Managing Director of Utopia Computers

 

We often get asked how we manage to build such a wide variety of computers while consistently hitting on our promised delivery times. In this short blog I want to give some insight into the work that goes on in the background at Utopia to achieve this.

Anyone who is familiar with procurement for stock will know the challenges, from keeping the right amount of stock in the warehouse to predicting when orders will be at peak, and in the IT channel you have the added challenge of trying to predict constant price fluctuations. A great example of this is 16GB DDR4 RAM chips, which at the time of writing are selling for around £110, whereas only a few months previously they were available for as little as £60.

1TB Samsung ECC RAM used in our Sonox C4 monster.

Utopia uses a cloud based stock allocation system called Catalyst. This system allows us to not only see the stock we have, but also the stock which is currently available in the UK channel. This is updated with live feeds from all our key distribution partners, meaning at any given moment we are able to calculate accurate lead times for any specification of build.

The home page for Catalyst, from here Utopia can find any IT product in Europe.

As part of our current standard operating procedure when an order is received we calculate the build time based on the location and availability of the parts required. For example, when all parts are in stock, the build can start asap, if an out of stock component has a 2 day lead time, then we check to see if this will impact on our client’s agreed delivery date. If this is the case we automatically contact the client to discuss alternatives, or to agree to proceed with the adjusted build and delivery date.

The below image gives an example of the type of data we monitor on the Catalyst system..

Here we can see that the card in question, a PNY Quadro K1200, is available at three suppliers, as well as seeing the available quantities.

We also track stock changes in the channel as well as price changes against all regular stock items. This allows us to predict future shortages and reduce the chance of having stock unavailable.

Above we can see the the Quadro K1200 has a steady price with stock being readily available.

I’ve given two examples below of how we use this data in real terms below:

Example 1:

Recent shortages in PSUs, brought on by the increased demand for digital currency mining systems meant that prices for these components were on the rise. We were able to predict this price rise by seeing stock holdings going down rapidly throughout the channel. This in turn meant we were able to buy stock while prices were still low and maintain our pricing on PSUs, which in turn allowed our desktops and workstations to stay very competitively priced.

 

An example of a mining rig build for Ethereum Mining (image source: cryptosrus.com)

Example 2:

Similar to the above example, certain graphics cards became quite hard to source due to their performance output in digital currency mining efficiency. We were able to map this, and help customers select alternative graphics cards to suit their needs and staying within their budget and projected deadline.

Our clients often ask us how we can stay competitive against the likes of multi-national competitors like Dell and HP. I hope this blog goes some way to illustrate that it is not only down our talented team, but also because of strict operating procedures and leading edge cloud based data processing tools that this is possible.