It’s About Time

More than a decade ago, electronics distributor Marshall Industries — which was acquired by {complink 577|Avnet Inc.} 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 EBN will continue to update and inform readers about tools that can help them save time.

7 comments on “It’s About Time

    August 2, 2011

    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.   

  2. elctrnx_lyf
    August 2, 2011

    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.

  3. Edmunds Sinevics
    August 2, 2011

    Vicor Corp. is based on two good pillars: innovation and flexibility. Nice to see innovations, which makes product selection easier and faster.

  4. Eldredge
    August 2, 2011

    Certainly, anything that makes the designers job easier to accomplish will be met with enthusiasm! Providing excellent design tools is a smart move.

  5. jbond
    August 3, 2011

    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.

  6. JADEN
    August 18, 2011

    The importance of Time Saving tools can not be understated.  Its really help in time management, saving doing unnecessary and repetitve tasks in a better way, and help in fast decision making

  7. Clairvoyant
    August 19, 2011

    Agreed, Jaden. Time saving tools, if properly implemented, are always a benefit. Especially useful for allowing busy engineers to get work done on other things on their list!

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