Original electronics manufacturers using high-reliability parts benefit from having the right partner. Here’s a look at three things that a strategic partner can bring to the table for these specialized buys.
Some OEMs, especially those in the defense, aerospace, industrial control, medical, and automotive sectors, rely on high-reliability parts for their designs.
These designs need to withstand harsh treatment, including heat, radiation, and vibration without even the slightest risk of faltering. It goes without saying that choosing the right products, from ICs to passives, and working with the right partners is critical. High-reliability components also carry a significantly higher price tag than their commercial grade counterparts, underscoring the need to strategically plan every buy.
The High-Reliability Bar
The vast majority of components in standard and high-reliability designs overlap by as much as 90%. However, the handful of specialized components demand specialized strategies for design and testing. A distribution partner well versed in these areas can help streamline the process and help avoid the pitfalls.
3 Things the Right Distributor Offers
- Global sourcing channels. By buying components from around the world, OEMs have a greater opportunity to find the quality and price they need. An established supply chain partner has reliable and known sourcing allies in place to keep the flow of reliable products coming through the supply chain. Further, the distribution partner leverages hubs across the globe to trim lead times and provide quick access to needed inventory.
- Robust quality procedures. When accessing a global sourcing network for high-reliability applications, quality control is paramount. A sophisticated sourcing partner will ensure that suppliers are subject to intensive and robust qualification processes. Further, incoming products must be inspected to ensure that they meet the desired quality and performance specs. A2 Global, for example, uses a process that includes a 60-plus point visual inspection of incoming components, as well as constant monitoring of overall supplier performance.
- Traceability for components. A reliable supply chain partner should be certified in quality standards such as the SAE’s AS6081 and AS9120, which require the documented process to include traceability. Traceability creates a process for locating components at a granular level as they move through the supply chain. In addition to enhancing efficiency, these processes ensure transparency and accountability, and help identify fraudulent/counterfeit electronic parts before they are introduced into the supply chain. Fake parts are a huge issue: The U.S. Department of Defense estimates 15 percent of all spare and replacement electronic parts purchased for military use are counterfeit. Electronic parts counterfeiting was estimated to have cost U.S. semiconductor manufacturers around $7.5 billion in 2018; 69.9% ($5.24 billion) of those fake parts were integrated circuits (ICs), according to the ERAI.
To summarize: Sourcing high-reliability components can be a daunting task but partnering with the right sourcing partner offers many important benefits.