Our responsible supply chain

Explanation of the material topic and its boundaries

u-blox is committed to producing its products ethically and responsibly. As a fabless semiconductor manufacturer, solid partnerships based on shared values help ensure the u-blox supply chain complies with established international principles around labor, human rights, worker health and safety, the environment, ethics, and management systems.

This sustainability report's responsible supply chain section relates to how strives to produce our products ethically and responsibly while protecting human and labor rights, health and safety, and the environment.

Our commitment and collaborative approach to a responsible supply chain

The u-blox Supplier Code of Conduct based on the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) Code of Conduct is the bedrock of our commitment and collaborative approach to our responsible supply chain. All tier 1 suppliers in our supply chain undergo a rigorous and ongoing supplier risk assessment in line with our Supplier Code of Conduct.

Learn more about the u-blox Supplier Code of Conduct

Careful supplier selection

All potential u‑blox suppliers undergo a comprehensive multi-stage due diligence process, including a supplier risk assessment, before we buy from them. The first part of this involves the Supplier completing our self-assessment process, including the Supplier's sector, size, geographical location, and the type of work performed. The risk assessment looks extensively at human and labor rights risk and impact. We then review their responses and feedback on any areas that need improvement, perform onsite audits, and take corrective action if necessary.

Continual improvement for u-blox and our partners

We are constantly striving to improve sustainability standards in our own business. This is why we look to learn from our suppliers' best practices.

No child labor, no trafficked labor, and no forced labor

Our policy with regard to human and labor rights is very simple: there should be no abuse of any form taking place during the manufacturing of our products. This means no child labor, no trafficked labor, and no forced labor. Working hours and pay must comply with local laws or the RBA Code of Conduct, whichever is stricter.

Freedom of Association

As stated in the u-blox Supplier Code of Conduct, in conformance with local law, u-blox suppliers shall respect the right of all workers to form and join trade unions of their choosing, to bargain collectively, and to engage in peaceful assembly as well as respect the right of workers to refrain from such activities. Workers and/or their representatives shall be able to openly communicate and share ideas and concerns with management regarding working conditions and management practices without fear of discrimination, reprisal, intimidation, or harassment.

Health and Safety

As outlined in the u-blox Supplier Code of Conduct, u-blox suppliers must recognize that in addition to minimizing the incidence of work-related injury and illness, a safe and healthy work environment enhances the quality of products and services, consistency of production and worker retention, and morale. u‑blox suppliers should also recognize that ongoing worker input and education are essential to identifying and solving health and safety issues in the workplace. Recognized management systems such as OHSAS 18001 and ILO Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health were used as references in preparing the Code.

Further information about the u-blox Supplier Code of Conduct as it relates to health and safety can be found here:

Suppliers who embrace environmental compliance and governance

As part of our Environmental Management System, we develop and publish detailed guidelines for our suppliers. The headline requirements are that all our contract manufacturers must hold ISO 14001 certification. Suppliers of components, materials, and parts are highly recommended to be ISO 14001 certified. Fabless companies should maintain an environmental management system and request that their production partners be ISO 14001 certified.

Much of our environmental footprint comes from manufacturing our products. To minimize this, as a fabless company, we must work closely with our supplier partners to control air emissions, waste management and recycling, and water management. Each of our suppliers has policies and strategies to deal with these very important issues, and u‑blox monitors its operations closely. In addition, we cooperate exclusively with top-tier manufacturers in our industry with leading environmental compliance and governance systems in place.

Our commitment and approach to responsible mineral sourcing

Due to a long history of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where mining profits have been used to finance violence and wars in the region, the minerals cassiterite, columbite, tantalite, wolframite (and their derivatives Tin, Tantalum, and Tungsten), and gold have been designated internationally as ‘conflict minerals.’

We aim to use 100% conflict-free minerals to produce conflict-free products. Our focus is to create products in ways that do not harm individuals, communities, or the environment and that all minerals and other materials are sustainably and responsibly procured. To this extent, u-blox is striving to ethically source minerals from responsible Suppliers to ensure its supply chain does not contribute to any human rights abuses around the globe nor to finance armed groups, directly or indirectly.

u-blox uses the RMI Cobalt Reporting Template (CRT), respectively Conflict Mineral Reporting Template (CMRT), relies upon the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) smelter database and Reasonable Country of Origin Inquiry (RCOI) information and implements a due diligence process in accordance with the five-step framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. 

In 2020, we set a goal to gain in-depth insight into our supply chain to improve supplier engagement, learn more about their practices, prioritize resources, and thereby increase our opportunity to maximize impact.

As a responsible business, it is imperative that our work does not contribute to any conflict, anywhere in the world, through the use of conflict minerals. That is why our supplier selection process addresses these concerns.

u‑blox suppliers, including contractors and external manufacturers, are aware of their obligations towards responsible minerals sourcing through our Supplier Code of Conduct. Accordingly, they are requested to have a policy to reasonably assure that the minerals they source are conflict-free. They are also expected to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of these minerals and make their due diligence measures available to u‑blox upon request.


Supplier risk assessment and segmentation

We began in 2020 by working with an external ESG consultancy with extensive experience in Responsible Supply Chain Management (RSCM) to analyze our tier‑1 suppliers in 10+ countries by aligning our pre-risk assessment supplier and sourcing data (company-specific leverage) with their proprietary segmentation approach.

u-blox’s ‘leverage’ data (spend, supplier location, duration of relationship) was then combined with their industry-leading proprietary data engine for risk categories and supply chain geography to identify key supply chain risks.

Extensive desk research on five rather than one onsite audit

Rather than conducting one onsite audit, as was set as an ESG goal in 2022, we decided to ask our ESG consultancy to conduct extensive desk research on five suppliers’ approaches to responsible supply chain management as a complementary element to the risk data completed in 2021.

Addressing Supplier risks

Based on the assessment data and additional desk research, three suppliers were identified in early 2022, with some risk. Meanwhile, we have adapted our Supplier Code of Conduct and are currently communicating and collaborating with all of our suppliers to identify and address any gap relating to our Supplier Code of Conduct and the risks identified through the desk research.

90% of our modules and 100% of our chipsets produced in low risk (based on RBA topics) countries

Today, 90% of our modules and 100% of our chipsets are manufactured in low risk countries at locations committed to the supplier code of conduct based on the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) practices. In 2020, we set a goal to gain in-depth insight into our supply chain to improve supplier engagement, learn more about their practices, prioritize resources, and thereby increase our opportunity to maximize impact.

2022 Sustainability Report