Always a critical component to the supply chain, distributors are evolving their approach and offerings to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) manage and strategically apply supply chain services and best practices to keep the flow of components moving. Especially in today’s competitive marketplace with lengthening lead times and increased competitiveness, choosing a distribution partner has become a critical activity.
We sat down with Kathy Bordeleau, director of marketing operations and Lori Rapoza, director of sales operations at Sager Electronics, to talk about the trends that they are seeing in electronics distribution, as well as to get an inside look at how one leading company is approaching the market.
EBN: How do you see supply chain management evolving as a strategic asset for a distribution company like Sager?
Bordeleau: Authorized distribution is a critical component of the supply chain for both suppliers and customers. A distributor has always played a role in ensuring the timely flow of product from suppliers to customers in order to meet time-to-market requirements.
However, today’s successful distribution model is more than stocking packages, purchase orders and shipments. Information is king and the ability of a distributor to translate information into action to the benefit of its suppliers and customers is the differentiator.
At the core of any successful operation is a robust ERP system that can collect, store, analyze and report large volumes of information accurately and consistently. Employing business intelligence software and a robust
toolset on top of a strong platform such as Sager’s PeopleSoft system allows for enhanced analysis and better decision-making across all facets of the supply chain. For example, from Purchasing’s ability to see and understand usage at the part number level to Sales’ ability to anticipate a customer-specific stocking requirement, Sager’s management teams use information to buy, manage and situate product to best meet the needs of both constituencies.
EBN: What are the critical demands from customers evolving and how is supply chain management part of that?
Rapoza: Customers wish to acquire product as close to the point of use as possible and at a competitive price. Anticipation of requirements, access to product and speed of response are crucial. Sager works closely with its supplier partners to understand factory pipelines and what’s on the horizon. As factories face material shortages, lead times extend and prices increase, it’s our role to position our backlog and inventory to provide a seamless flow of product to the customer.
Our customers want access to intelligence and are relying on us to provide it. It is the continuous flow of information from supplier through Sager to our customer and the use of better analytics that position everyone in the supply chain to make well informed business decisions. Sager is using its market intelligence to devise stronger inventory strategies. Investing in inventory including high running, customer-specific and hard-to- source products positions us against fluctuations in the marketplace and improves our ability to mitigate potential supply chain issues for our customers.
Additionally, through our Power Solutions Center and staff of in-house design engineers, Sager can build sub- assemblies in a quick and efficient fashion to meet customers’ more complex design requirements. Understanding a customer’s technical needs and having the ability to quickly address those specifications through a value-add solution is another example of how Sager is using intelligence to meet demands faster and more productively.