More than a decade ago, electronics distributor Marshall Industries -- which was acquired by Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT) in 1999 -- ran a marketing campaign using the slogan, "It's about time." Distributors were then, and are now, all about helping customers better manage their schedules.
If you think time management has gotten any better in a decade, please let me know. However, it seems the electronics industry is being asked to do more with less even faster than before. The recognition of this fact is one of the reasons Vicor Corp., a manufacturer of power components and systems, developed a suite of tools to assist its customers in designing and selecting power solutions.
Vicor has been manufacturing power products for more than 20 years. Because power supplies are designed into end-products toward the end of the design cycle, Vicor needed to have the building blocks of a power system on hand and configure them quickly. This mass customization model allows engineers to design a fully functioning power module in a short period of time and Vicor to provide it without lengthy lead times.
Because the power systems are largely custom, Vicor supports its customers directly through its own staff of field applications engineers (FAEs). But to assist engineers that work 24/7 or in foreign time zones, Vicor enhanced its support through the Web. Vicor’s PowerBench tool consists of three online design capabilities:
A Custom Module Design System (CMDS), which supports Vicor's FasTrak Maxi, Mini, and Micro DC-DC converters. Using this proprietary system, design engineers can specify online, and verify in real time, the performance and attributes of Vicor’s DC-DC converters. The CMDS enables the comprehensive design of DC-DC converters in all of the "brick" form factors -- full, half, and quarter size.
An automated design system for configurable VIPAC power systems
A systems product online configurator where a registered user can specify and verify complete power solutions in real time
Vicor has recently expanded its Web offering in response to events in the power market. Leading power converter maker SynQor filed patent infringement charges against a number of bus converter manufacturers, and a court injunction subsequently suspended the manufacturing of many of those products. Vicor has a bus converter that does not conflict with SynQor's copyright and has adapted it to an industry-standard form factor.
However, customers needed a way to quickly cross reference the converters they use with Vicor's. So in mid-July, Vicor launched its IBC selection tool that enables users to identify the most appropriate option(s). A simple interface, searchable by manufacturer or part number, enables users to search Vicor’s IBC offerings and select a product. There are a lot of tools in the industry to assist designers and buyers, including UBM's recent launch of Datasheets.com. EBN will continue to update and inform readers about tools that can help them save time.
Vicor is doing a great job in getting their customers what they need and doing it quickly. There aren't many companies out there that have put the customer in this good of a spot. With their online tools, engineers in any time zone can make sure they are getting all the right capabilities and designs that they need. Vicor is proving that they will be around for many years to come.
It is very important to have right tools which can enable designers to make right decisions in a faster way. Particulary power supply components are lot in common when it comes to functionaly and the companies like TI, National and Linear are offering the software web based tools to design the DC-DC converters.
In most markets there is a healthy choice of potential suppliers. Suppliers who focus more on helping their customers develop their own products and services most easily will fare better. To that end I see a lot of suppliers now offering excellent applications support and web based design tools that help customers choose and design in the correct components as quickly as possible. This is especially beneficial in fast growing Asian companies (where the big growth is) where sometimes the experience of young engineering teams or language barriers may hinder the uptake of a supplier's product. Bottom line is to make one product easy to specify and use.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.