Future Electronics’ corporate VP, Karim Yasmine, guides readers through the supply chain landscape.
Q) What supply chain trends has Future Electronics witnessed over the last decade and what do purchasers need to prepare for over coming years?
Like every technology space, we have seen drastic changes in the supply chain. Over the past 10-years, aggregators have changed the way purchasing professionals access information. Today, application programming interfaces (APIs) are simplifying information exchange in the supply chain. Automation is also the norm. Although technology is evolving, the purchasing community still relies on distributors who physically stock inventory and offer differentiated supply chain services. The demand/supply equation is always in flux and buyers depend on stocking distributors to get their products to market quickly, regardless of demand spikes or external factors. Our Bonded Inventory Management program, for example, ensures customers enjoy on-time delivery, continuity of supply and flexibility.
Q) Counterfeit and obsolete components are a threat to supply chains. How are companies like Future combatting this?
Counterfeit products are an industry-wide issue that Future Electronics has addressed with strict multi-point inspections on all product entering our facilities. Our distribution operations and trade/compliance departments manage this process, so every customer receives factory-certified product. Future Electronics is also a member of ECIA, GEDA and other industry associations around the world that represent authorized distribution.
Q) How has Future adapted during COVID-19 and how do you see future working patterns?
From the beginning of the pandemic, our number-one priority has been the well-being of our employees, customers, suppliers and rep partners. On the business side, we focused on continuity at our Distribution Centers. Our unified global IT platform allowed us to provide customers with seamless business continuity. We also offer customers virtual product training and other information services to get technologies to their engineering teams despite this constrained environment. Moving forward, we are looking at new ways to enhance our support levels for both purchasing and engineering.
Q) The semiconductor sector has seen consolidation over recent years. How is this impacting the supply chain?
M&A has its benefits and challenges. Consolidation can mean fewer options, such as fewer sources on an AVL, which underlines the importance of a partner like Future Electronics which provides differentiated supply chain solutions. Also, acquisitions have merged some of the top companies, who are now offering a complete technology portfolio. As M&A continues, our focus is ensuring continuity of supply and working with our customers in cases where product lines are pruned or end of life with recommended alternatives.
Q) As lead times extend, which components are most impacted?
Lead times are stretching in specific technologies. Microcontroller and sensor lead times have extended, with some microcontroller lead times at 24-plus weeks right now. The market is very dynamic, with supply chains being affected at every level of the manufacturing process. Freight has become a major factor as well. Future’s product marketing team is working closely with our suppliers and manufacturing reps to ensure we communicate the most up-to-date information and solutions to our customers.