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A different distribution model

17th November 2022
Caroline Hayes

The COVID pandemic highlighted the precarious nature of the electronics industry chain as supply shortages have caused delays in all mark sectors.

At electronica 2022, Stephen Morris, General Manager, EMEA for Rochester Electronics explained how the company’s policy of stockpiling billions of devices has meant that it has helped customers sidestep delays and has even played a part in ‘rebooting’ a medical design for immediate dispatch using a chip based on a Motorola MC6800 microcontroller.

The company is an authorised distributor of some of the best-known names in the electronics industry and is able to supply their products even when the name no longer exists. It can supply devices from International Rectifier, IDT and Cypress, for example, but also has ADI, TI, onsemi, Infineon and NXP, with its most recent signing, STMicroelectronics, added to the company’s portfolio in 2021.

The company has 15 billion parts in stock with 5billion of those being active parts but the majority are obsolete parts which are manufactured up to two years ago by the original manufacturer, Morris explains. The philosophy behind this distribution model is that the company is always able to offer parts for manufacturers who are designing in longevity, such as mil-aero and medical equipment.

One customer approached Rochester when they revived a ventilator design to be used during the height of the COVID pandemic. The small, portable ventilator system had not been manufactured since the 1990s, said Morris. The original used parts which no longer exist. Rochester used it in-house manufacturing facilities to manufacture the original part to the original specification. “There was no redesign needed, no re-certification  and no risk,” said Morris.

Obsolescence of a part can lead to the need for a redesign which can be timely and expensive, but for customers who do not need the latest parts, for example the aerospace industry, Rochester Electronics can recreate a part for it to be designed into a platform, with a guaranteed supply for 10 years. Re-manufacturing can take 12 to 18 months and even ASICs can be replicated under license. This is a considerable reduction in time compared to a typical five year redesign and recertification  process, said Morris.

“This is a change of mindset for customers,” said Morris. “By designing the front end, we are giving people a choice of parts.” The company says it can also educate and support customers in their design searches.

“Designers have a choice of two sources for products – distributor or supplier,” explained Morris. “But Rochester Electronics sits on the bridge between these two. Instead of going to a broker – where origins or test procedures may be uncertain, we are a no-risk route for customers,” he said.

Delivery time is three days (maximum) from the company’s warehouse near Boston, US.

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