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Why Procurement Should Look for Distributor Certifications

April 27, 2023
Like many professional organizations, distributors of electronic components hold a variety of different industry certifications that designate them as experts or authorities.

Whether they’re demonstrating their commitment to quality, responding to customer requirements, improving their competitive advantage, accessing new markets, reducing risk or all of the above, companies will often use industry certifications to stand out from the crowd.

Electronics distributors are no exception to the rule and are often associated with myriad credentials, each of which demonstrates that the organization has met a certain level of competency in a particular industry.

ISO 9001
A quality management system certification awarded to companies that meet the International Organization for Standardization’s requirements, ISO is one of the most recognized acronyms when it comes to distributor certifications. ISO 9001 sets out the criteria for a quality management system. It can be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity. According to ISO, there are more than 1 million companies and organizations in over 170 countries certified to ISO 9001.

Electronic component distributor Chip 1 Exchange is one of those organizations. It says ISO 9001:2015 specifies requirements for a quality management system when an organization:

a) Needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and

b) Aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

“Selecting a distributor that voluntarily holds itself to these standards ensures you will receive quality product and dedicated customer service,” Chip 1 Exchange points out.

Credentials to Look for
The electronics sector uses a variety of other certifications that apply to distributors, manufacturers and/or specific products. Some of the most common credentials include:

AS9120: a quality management system certification that is specifically designed for the aerospace industry. Prepared by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), with representatives from aviation, space and defense companies in the Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe, AS9120:2016/AS9120B standardizes quality management system requirements. It can be used at all levels of the supply chain by organizations around the world to improve quality, cost and delivery performance. This is accomplished through the reduction or elimination of organization-unique requirements, effective implementation of the quality management system and wider application of good practices.

ITAR: A U.S. government export control regulation that applies to certain electronic components. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations is a set of government regulations related to defense exports. According to Thomas.net, regulations include policies and provisions related to prohibited exports, imports and sales to or from specific countries (with exceptions among many others).

CE: A European Union conformity assessment mark that indicates a product meets all applicable safety, health and environmental requirements. CE marking indicates that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer and deemed to meet EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements. It is required for products manufactured anywhere in the world that are then marketed in the EU. 

AS Certification: Applies to activities that manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect, transport or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to damage by electrostatic discharges greater than or equal to 100 V human body model (HBM). “Our ESD program prevents failures of electronic components due to electrostatic discharge, saving our customers time and money on costly ESD related disruptions,” Chip 1 Exchange states on its website.

ERAI:  A privately-held global information services organization, ERAI, Inc.  monitors, investigates and reports issues affecting the global electronics supply chain. Since 1995, ERAI tools and services have assisted buyers and sellers from all sectors of the supply chain in preventing loss by mitigating risk in the material purchasing process. As the world’s largest database of non-conforming material, ERAI is leading the fight against the sale of counterfeit and high-risk components, promoting a higher level of awareness via data-sharing, education, training and networking.

These and other certifications are important because they help ensure that the electronic components being procured are of high quality and that they meet all applicable safety standards. They also help ensure the traceability of electronic components back to their original sources and avoid counterfeit parts—a potentially dangerous risk for all users.

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