Just the thing to get a distribution sales executive’s
attention, one would think. Arrow, Digi-Key, and Mouser
apparently agree: they’re all Maker Faire sponsors.
The Internet of Things
In addition to providing writing opportunities for
freelancers like me, the Io T has led to a rash of startups
trying to get a piece of the action. But developing an Io T
product is hardly a non-trivial task; it requires expertise
in a variety of technologies such as wireless connectivity,
power management, sensors, connectors, and packaging,
among others. Developing an Io T product can be
challenging for small companies that don’t usually have
the breadth of in-house technical knowledge needed.
Enter the distributor: not only do they have
development kits that are optimized for Io T quick-start
development, but in many cases, they provide training
too. As I mentioned last month, Arrow and Renesas
have teamed up to offer seminars on Renesas’ Io T
Enabler Kit at local Arrow offices around the U.S.
Later, once the new product goes into production, the
company may need help with forecasting demand and
managing inventory. Startups have limited capital, and
they want to use it to develop new products and for
marketing—not to build warehouses to hold inventory.
Casting The Net Wide: Other Services
If you run a larger operation, such as Avnet with
FY2016 sales of $26.2 billion, or Arrow, with 2015 sales
of $23.3 billion, you can perhaps afford to expand your
horizons. Both companies are busily diversifying into
related service areas.
Avnet has perhaps the most diversification: their
Technology Solutions services group accounted for
around 37 percent of 2016 revenue. The company
has gone into hosting services and cloud-based
products in a big way: according to the website,
its StadiumEdge product “lets you connect the
dots from disparate data sources through a single
view and gain deep insight” that can boost ticket
sales, optimize resource allocation, and increase
concession sales, among other things.
Hey, Design Engineers Are Sports Fans Too.
Avnet has also staked a claim to the B2G market
with its acquisition of British distributor Premier
Farnell, a leading maker of the Raspberry Pi low-cost computer board.
Sticking closer to home, Arrow’s Power Supply
group in Phoenix, Arizona offers design services
including: build-to-print; testing, inspection, and
burn-in; sheet metal, PCB, and cable assembly design
services; kitting; product testing and documentation;
system design and integration; and others.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Distributors are also trying to influence designer
decision-making in more subtle ways. For
example, in June, Arrow purchased a group of
electronic trade publications from UBM. The
company’s new corporate home will be Arrow’s
Distributors aren’t neglecting future designers
either, as evidenced by the Avnet Innovation Lab at
Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of
Engineering. The lab is part of a $750,000 donation
over three years that will award funding to selected
entrepreneurs and provide connections to help
bring their technologies to market.
Where were they when I needed funding for
my Perpetual Motion/Cold Fusion/Fountain of
Youth machine? ECN
Thirty-fve years and 11 billion miles...
Now that’s reliability.
Made in the USA.