Solutions from Interconnect Specialists (published in Electronics Sourcing Magazine-September 2020)
September 18, 2020
Considerations when sourcing from Interconnect Specialist Distributors…
While today the “business as UNUSUAL” mantra blares loud for us all, electronic connector sourcing has always been complicated for a myriad of reasons, the biggest likely being long lead times and limited available inventory. Still, when you source from distributors who specialize in interconnect products you get a substantially more help when the going gets tough.
To start, if you have bought electronic connectors that are “off the board” vs on PCB’s, you know available inventory can be important because these “off the board” connectors often are part of a system of cables and harnesses that can be of varying lengths and can involve options that are bought as the last part of a “system buy”. Usually these orders have more options and variables to them than the brains or heart of a device whose BOM & PCB is more locked down. Additionally, they are hard to second source since the engineers have likely tested and chosen only 1 approved supplier due to time and resource constraints at the end of a project. So, that can leave a procurement professional in troubled waters if issues arise (as they always do!).
To address the inventory availability issue, specialist distributors typically BUILD their connectors themselves allowing for control of assembly times and taking advantage of component inventory that is STB (Stock to Build). This STB capability from the likes of TTI, Electro Enterprises, ECCO, etc.…gives a broader account of available SKU’s to make since the connectors are not assembled and glued & finished (i.e. set in stone to a complete top-level assembly completed part number). This gives a specialist distributor more flexibility on inventory and part combinations. By doing so, those distributors expand the reach of their inventory profile and provide greater service and supply capability to their customers.
Besides building connectors for manufacturers and being able to deliver an expansive list of part numbers to OEM’s and CEM’s needing readily available inventory support, specialist interconnect distributors can perform value added services to assist in supply chain and inventory management. Those include “customer specific” bonding of inventory, using Just-in-Time software and apps to re-order easily (see Table 1 for a depiction of Heilind’s IMRS-Inventory Management Replenishment System), Kan Ban functionality, consignment programs (popular with wire products), and special packaging for marketing or unique security and storage needs, along with advanced “blind shipment” services where direct ship to a customer’s end customer makes sense. You dream it, they can build and deliver it today-and customers are looking for even more complex supply chain support including outsourcing design and manufacturing services where appropriate lowering labor costs and product obsolescence. (See ECCO Assembly Services here: https://eccoconnectors.com/services/cable-harness-assembly/).
Knowledge is another area where specialist interconnect and electro-mechanical distributors excel. As seen in Table 2, there are many series of connectors that we support whether by building or simply selling a manufacturers’ completed connector. Because we assemble the various parts of a connector, we often have an innate know-how as to “form, fit, and functional” equivalents or options that might work in a customer’s design. This allows for more flexibility in sourcing, pricing, and performance for procurement professionals.
So, in summary to address this market problem of inventory availability and part complexity causing headaches for buyers of connectors, look to distributor specialists who can assist with more expansive inventory offerings via Stock-to-Build capabilities, additional supply chain programs and assembly services for “just in time” support and lowered carrying costs, and overall knowledge of the product. Acting as an extension of your procurement team via a more focused resource with these commodities are what Interconnect Specialists will do for you!
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