Dixons' PC builder talks to The Reg

On the bridge of the Starship Centerprise

The Register has been given a quick tour of the Centerprise factory - the place where Dixon's Advent PCs get built. Here's what we found out.

Around 20 per cent of Advents being built are P4 systems at the moment.

The Centerprise factory in Basingstoke can churn out a maximum of 800 PCs in an eight-hour day if they've got 60-70 people on the job. It averages around 600 per day at present, and hopes to build 100,000 machines this year.

Sixty per cent of the PCs built by Centerprise are Advents at the moment. Centerprise MD Raffi Razzak says less than 50 per cent of the company's business is from Dixons.

Most DOAs are due to bits working loose in transport - mainly VGA and PCI cards. Centerprise has developed clips to hold the cards in place.

Three per cent of Advent machines are returned in store - this includes DOAs, but also 'spurious' returns by customers who've seen better deals.

The failure rate of components/systems within the Centerprise assembly set up is between three and four per cent. In the early days it had been as much as 15 per cent but most of this was due to human error - mainly components being left unconnected. All stages of assembly are checked twice. The production line motto is "we don't trust anyone."

At present there are 22 permanent members of the assembly team and 18 temps, 15 of those have been working long term. When it need to ramp up production at busy times, like Christmas, it does have a pool of experienced temps to call on. If it does take on a complete newbie, they're never left unsupervised though they will be screwing things together from the off.

Centerprise keeps a week's worth of inventory on retail lines.

The shop floor find out which spec of Advent machines they'll be building next by seeing Dixons adverts in the PC press.

For any order greater then one, the software is loaded via a disk duplicating machine from a master copy, meaning each install is identical.

Advent machines are sold in all Dixons' stores - PC World, Currys and Dixons. Centerprise doesn't assemble Advent notebooks. Centerprise also builds Bonsai PCs for Tempo, and Vulcan computers for John Lewis.

Centerprise MD Raffi Razzak is worth £83 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List. He owns 83 per cent of the business. ®

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