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IP&E Components: The Unsung Heroes of Circuit Designs

July 9, 2024
We often take for granted the simple, yet complex nature of our everyday appliances. The many components that are needed are often overlooked.
In today’s tech-centric world, we expect batteries to run our devices, electrical cables to charge those devices and coffee makers to produce our morning brew. What we don’t always think about is the intricate combination of wires, resistors, capacitors, inductors and other components that are working diligently behind the scenes to keep our smartphones on, devices charged and coffee makers running.
Take that coffee maker, for example. Its construction is simple enough in nature, but for its heating element to work and indicator light to illuminate, that coffee maker needs an array of tiny components. Many of those components are part of the interconnect, passive and electromechanical (IP&E) family—the unsung heroes of circuit designs.
This family of parts is made up of three different product groupings:
  • Interconnect parts are the basic components that electrically interconnect wires, cables and components in electronics and electrical systems. Some examples of interconnect parts include connectors, wires and cables and circuit boards.
  • Passive devices have electronic components that don’t need a power supply to operate. Instead, these devices can only “passively respond” to electrical signals, not intercept or alter them. This group of products includes resistors, capacitors and inductors.
  • Electromechanical components are used to manufacture and assemble electronic products. They include motors, relays, transformers, filters and contactors.

These groups of products play an important part in our daily lives. They also serve as the foundational elements for many industrial products, heavy machinery and even advanced robotics. For example:

Warehouse & factory conveyor belts: Interconnect components transmit signals from sensors for monitoring product movement on the belt while passive components regulate power to the motor that drives that belt. The electromechanical component ensures that the conveyor runs smoothly.
Electrical appliances and smart homes. Home appliances add convenience and quality to our everyday lives and many of them feature relays, which fall into the electromechanical category. Since energy conservation, compactness and smart functionality have become almost standard in modern home appliances, the relay has become indispensable.
Industrial robotics: Mechanical robots on the factory floor rely on interconnect components for communication and control; passive components for the management of power and signals; and electromechanical components (motors and actuators) to power the robots’ movements and help them complete specific tasks. 
Automotive electronics. Continuous improvements in automotive electronics that have happened in recent years owe much to multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs), which fall into the passive category. Applications of MLCCs in automobiles include satellite positioning systems, central control systems, radio navigation systems, chassis stability control systems and ADAS systems (fun fact: an entirely electric vehicle requires as many as 18,000 MLCCs).
Automated welding applications: Interconnect components control the robotic arm, passive components regulate how much power the welding torch receives and electromechanical components (usually motors) ensure precise movement of that torch for the desired weld.

These are just some of the ways IP&E components are being used to develop products in modern factories, warehouses and distribution centers around the world. 

The Powerhouses of the Electrical Component World
IP&E products are playing an increasingly important role in system-level designs. Speedy and reliable data, content and power transfer require a buyer or engineer to select the right, high-quality products for their specific application. Yet unlike chip technology, which is often a single source, there are typically multiple providers of IP&E technology. Each piece often has unique specifications for various requirements, and it can be time-consuming and difficult to sift through all the information to find the right, most reliable technology for your design.
Avnet’s roots in IP&E solutions run deep and wide, making it one of the top global IP&E distributors in the world. The company ships 100 billion products annually with 14 million lines. It has also maintained solid relationships with top global and regional IP&E suppliers for many years and holds over $700 million in global IP&E product inventory.  
Avnet takes pride in its complete portfolio of world-class IP&E products from the top names in the industry. The electronic distributor’s product offering is backed by its dedicated sales and quoting teams who will turn quote requests around in as little as 24 hours. Thanks to its global reach, Avnet has the inventory and supply chain expertise that spans the world while maintaining the local feel of sales and quote support that its customers need.


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