The role played by technology distributors in the design process has seen significant change over the past 10 years. Due to customer and market demands, the distributor's primary function evolved from providing access to products in high volumes to offering customized services and solutions.
As distributors sought to expand their design services, they harnessed the Internet to improve access to these services. Today, distributors' Web-based tools let designers manage their BOMs and the systems integration process; access evaluation kits; check order status, pricing, and availability; and more.
Electronic component distributors provide online tools to help engineers make educated supply-chain decisions. Using these tools, engineers can access product schematic symbols as well as parametric and transactional data.
Thanks to RoHS and WEEE legislation, designers must become even more conscientious about part selection. Avnet Electronics Marketing developed an online information repository to assist engineers in determining which products comply with these regulations.
Similarly, Avnet Applied Computing Solutions offers embedded computing engineers a Web-based information management portal that includes a BOM library. Engin-eers can follow guidelines from the BOM library on what parts will work together in a design.
Avnet Applied Computing Solutions also has online configurators for server and storage technologies. Its technical and engineering experts have validated that all solutions available through the configurators will work together seamlessly. The extensive prevalidation process for the BOM library and configurators eliminates system-based misconfigurations that can cause product-development delays. Such services help shorten the design cycle for engineers because they needn't spend significant time and resources prevalidating and testing parts before making their final product selection.
The future of distributors' online services promises increased collaboration between the engineering and distribution design teams. Engineers will be able to instant-message the distribution design team over a secure and encrypted network connection to discuss their projects in real time, resulting in faster design development.
In addition, distributors will begin offering ways to share design details in online webinar settings. This will help ensure that the engineering, distribution, and production teams are in sync on the product's direction. As product-development and lifecycle times continue to shrink, the need for distributors and engineers to work together in real time will increase, as will the services provided by distributors via the Internet.
Resources mentioned in this article:
Avnet Prómiere supply chain tool: www.promiere.com
Avnet Green/Lead-Free Initiative: www.em.avnet.com/leadfree
Avnet Applied Computing Solutions: www.acs.avnet.com/