Buyer’s guide to frequency control

ECS Inc. International answers four key questions regarding the sourcing and purchasing of frequency control products.

Q) What should be on a buyer’s shopping list when sourcing frequency components?

When selecting and buying frequency control products and power inductors look for a respected brand. Most modern applications require several clocks and a good FCP manufacturer will offer a broad-based product range. Products should include crystals, oscillators, voltage-controlled oscillators, temperature compensated oscillators, oven-controlled oscillators, plus resonators, filters and potentially magnetics.

Manufacturers should also offer engineering and technical resources to support customers’ design work. A regional sales manager should be available to help with part numbers, pricing and delivery, while a local manufacturer representative will provide real-time support and a strong sales channel with product stocked at major distributors.

Q) How is the crystal supply chain performing against potential shortages or allocation?

During the pandemic and shutdowns we have seen supplies of raw materials and finished goods slip out significantly. What was once <10 weeks is now 16-plus weeks for build to order products. When managing inventories, it is vital to understand how and where products are used. Following market indicators and reacting to internal lead times and manufacturing process times, lets us maintain a constant flow of products. Lead times are also mitigated by keeping significant quantities of product in distribution.

Q) What questions are buyers asking ECS when sourcing crystals?

Questions tend to focus on three areas. Firstly, corporate details: where we are headquartered (Lenexa, KS) and how long we’ve been in business (40-years). Secondly, products: how and where are products built and what is the roadmap. Many also want to know what engineering and technical support we offer. Finally, supply chain, do we sell through authorized distribution (yes) and which distributors are franchised. Customers can also buy direct.

Q) Are frequency products affected by tariffs?

When products move from one country to another, tariffs are sometimes added to account for currency and economic differences. This is mainly from China to the US. For some products this is just a reality, while others can move to another factory. ECS has tariffs on less than 10 per cent of products.