Buying quantity without compromising on quality

6th March 2015
Nat Bowers

High service distribution is changing. The age of the simple component distributor is dead. Customers and suppliers are demanding a manufacturing partner who can offer both a full design solution and the high level of service they have come to expect.

By Phil Gee, Director, Corporate OEM/CEM, Farnell element14.

Therefore, anticipating and responding to this trend with a comprehensive suite of customer and supplier solutions is critical to success in today’s market - particularly when targeting the Contract Electronic Manufacturing (CEM) sector.

CEMs have very specific requirements and distributors need to understand these, adapting their supply chains and procurement channels to cater to their needs. Buyers within CEMs typically want to purchase products in volume and are primarily driven by price, though that’s not to say that quality, product availability and speed of service aren’t also of importance in their decision process.

Significant investment in inventory in the last two years has seen Farnell element14 enhance its ability to support low-to-mid volume customers from the prototype stage, through to production. Part of this required the development of a number of peripheral services, designed to ensure CEMs received the most efficient service possible. Of these services, ensuring we could provide full component traceability was the most important.

In recent years increased competition, globalisation of the supply chain and related safety concerns, stricter government regulations and the demand for higher value at a lower cost have placed intense pressure on the manufacturing process.

As outsourcing increases, CEMs will find having the ability to provide comprehensive traceability information on request will play a vital role in the retention of existing customers and acquisition of new contracts. Legislation such as RoHS and WEEE adds to the importance of traceability, making it a legal requirement for manufacturers to self-declare compliance and respond to traceability queries on demand. In fact, traceability of components is today an essential requirement of any manufacturing business in the automotive, medical, military and aerospace sectors. Should an issue arise, traceability helps mitigate liability - giving greater insight in to where the issue lies, which products it has impacted, and limiting the scale of any required product recalls.

But the dynamics of electronics manufacturing today can make it difficult to guarantee and maintain a high level of traceability, with electronics runs typically characterised by extremely short product lifecycles and a tendency for a large number of different products to be produced simultaneously. Trends such as the miniaturisation of components also increase the risk of quality issues, while legislative demands mean manufacturers must capture and retain what happens during the manufacturing process well after products have been introduced into the marketplace.

Common queries relating to traceability include:

  • Was this product assembled using a defective component?
  • Was this product assembled through processes that comply with standards?
  • Is the whole manufacturing order affected or is it limited to a specific component batch or lot?
  • What is the overall production history of this board or box?
  • Are we confident there are no counterfeit components in the supply chain?

To this end, in order to ensure full traceability, Farnell element14 offers date and lot codes on up to 200,000 SKUs, as well as fully automated, bar-coded product labels and dispatch notes on 20,000 of the most popular semi and passive components from all major franchises.

As part of its CEM proposition, Farnell element14 now also offers a broad range of flexible, production-ready packaging options, specifically for ‘Pick and Place’ machines. These include partial and quantity orders on reels, waffles and in tubes. It also stocks over 21,000 full reels across surface-mount semiconductor and passive components for quick turnaround, and a free cut tape and re-reeling service for a further 79,000 components in partial and full reel quantities. This is all combined with a new pricing structure that better supports volume production through extended price breaks on over 90,000 products.

With well over half of Farnell element14’s sales now online, the company has also invested in new transactional websites, geared towards making it much faster and straightforward for buyers to find and buy what they need. Every aspect has been redesigned to make the whole buying process much more straightforward, speeding up how parts can be found, making it much quicker to register, or the interactive online catalogue, everything has been designed to ensure the whole process works in the way a customer wants it to. One of the biggest improvements has been adding the ability for users to upload BOMs directly to the transactional website: by uploading their excel sheet to the website a list of parts will automatically be generated. It makes a menial task much more simple and straightforward.

So with same day dispatch on large volume orders, including re-reeled components at no extra cost; free date and lot code provision for real product traceability; and 24/5 support on the road, on the phone and online, the message to CEMs is clear. Switch to Farnell element14 for your low to mid volume orders and discover that you can buy quantity without compromising on quality.

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