Welcome to Planet e.
14th International Trade Fair for Electronic Components, Systems and Applications
Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), Hall E3, E4, E5
Distribution Special Section
While the term “distribution” might seem pretty simple, it really en- compasses an array of issues within
the industry. For this special distribution
section of ECN, we surveyed our readers
about four topics that are important to the
distributors, consumers, and manufacturers.
We start our journey by diving into the
controversial topic with an issue that’s
hitting multiple industries: conflict materials (page 23). We
found that more than 60 percent of engineers said they knew
what conflict materials were, but about 80 percent felt it was
important to keep them out of components. From a social mo-
rality perspective, the responses tended more towards an open
and honest discussion about the implications of using conflict
materials. Conflict materials are those mined in the Democratic
Republic of Congo and surrounding countries under violent and
bloody circumstances. They mostly consist of tin, tungsten, tan-
talum, and gold. Since many of these materials are also used in
components and increasing regulations are putting the burden
on companies to track where materials are coming from, it’s a
topic of concern for many engineers.
Our next stop was the similarly controversial topic of counterfeit components (page 24). The grey market is an issue of
increasing concern for engineers since a faulty counterfeit
product can lead to disaster. With more than 65 percent of engi-
neers ordering their parts from an authorized distributor, it was
interesting to find that 46 percent had some issue with counterfeit components.
Speaking of potential disasters, supply chain disruptions
(page 30) can result in a huge profit loss. The key is establishing
relationships with a reputable distributor, and nearly 40 percent
of engineers reported a three to five day lead time to receive a
component. Interestingly, (but not unexpectedly) about 50 percent used Digi-Key. Even more encouraging, only about a third
of engineers had experienced a disruption in supply chain due to
some sort of disaster. The results really emphasized the need to
have a solid option for getting components as quickly as possible,
though the overall price generally trumped speed.
Finally, we explored the area of Field Applications Engineers
(FAE) (page 25), which are sales engineers that represent specific
companies, but who have the technical background to offer
suggestions for how to integrate the product into designs. An
economic downturn had many companies reducing full-time
engineering staff, a majority of engineers noticed increased
amounts of work being done with FAEs. For most, however, it
had never been the deciding factor for which component to use.
Overall, the surveys represent engineers as a group that is
concerned about the quality of the products they’re producing. Ensuring a solid supply chain from a reputable distributor
helped eliminate a lot of the potential problems, and a lot of
trial and error helped set up a system that works.