The internet has become a hotbed for companies looking to cash in on the high demand for electronic components. Key the words “integrated circuits” into Google and hit “shopping,” and the results will include a wide array of sellers—among them, eBay, Walmart and numerous surplus outlets.
Needless to say, navigating the chaotic nature of the internet when buying something as important as an electronic component has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Counterfeit parts, defective components, missing parts, incorrect part numbers and other problems can all interfere with a company’s ability to get its own products made and/or customers served.
Minimizing Procurement Risk
Counterfeiting is a particularly big concern due to the risks involved with buying—and attempting to use—an incorrect or defective electronic component. “Electronic equipment manufacturers and their customers must be cautious about counterfeit electronic components. They need to be especially vigilant about their supply chain as a majority of counterfeit cases reported are associated with purchases through independent distributors,” Meta Materials cautions.
The counterfeiting threat is real and growing. According to North Carolina State University, counterfeiting has grown from a $30 billion trade problem in the 1980s to one that now exceeds $600 billion in trade.
“If the price seems too good to be true, the components may be counterfeit,” insurance provider Travelers advises. “Try to always purchase from suppliers who are OEM-approved distributors. Be sure to examine their quality control processes, where they get their materials and how rigorous they are in ensuring the quality of subcontracted materials. If possible, conduct an onsite inspection.”
Authentic Components Wanted
One way buyers can increase their vigilance and ensure that they’re ordering authentic components is by working with authorized distributors. These companies buy directly from the component makers, which provide the parts themselves plus any user manuals, accessories and other items needed to install and use those parts.
Authorized distributors also have global connections, which means they can find a component or part that isn’t necessarily in stock. These companies serve as direct conduits to their OEMs, which translates into high levels of customer support, product knowledge and technical expertise. They offer genuine parts, provide timely delivery and generally stock a wide variety of goods that are ready to ship same-day or next-day.
According to Mike Slater, vice president of global business development at electronic components distributor Digi-Key, authorized distributors are also focused on providing the largest selection of electronic components for customers to bring their ideas to life. In addition, distributors like Digi-Key offer a suite of value-added tools and services that help companies accelerate their ideas and products to market.
“The combination of not only supporting the customer’s technical element needs but also having the right products in stock, having the right relationships in place and having the experience to navigate issues that can stall a design, set the top authorized distributors apart,” Slater adds. “For our suppliers, we’re offering a lot of new options that make it easier for them to grow their businesses.”