The passive electronics distribution market is split into very different company approaches, customers have available to them the services of broadline brokers, catalogue and specialist distributors, each have their own merits and offer a unique procurement and (if offered) technical service.
As the name suggests have access to a broad range of manufacturers and therefore products available.
Broadline distribution tends to stock product to match market demand i.e. parts which turn fast and tend to be lower in price. For commodity products this provides customers with the ability to have a good degree of confidence parts will be in stock and removes any financial commitment.
Logistics is a major part of the company’s approach to business and with a linecard which contains most of the manufacturers listed on the BOM, customers which are medium to large in size tend to use a broadline distributor as their first point of call.
Brokers tend to provide the most flexibility when it comes to sourcing a wide range of products or a market event transpires i.e. shortage or discontinuation of product.
The broker is able to achieve this situation because they are not franchised to the manufacturers in question they are free to scour the market and obtain product from all available channels, including other brokers, a fully franchised and qualified distributor simply does not operate this way.
Additionally brokers are not part of the OEMs quality management system, a degree of trust and heritage is paramount to ensure the transaction runs smoothly.
Catalogue distribution is ideally suited for engineers who wish to obtain a low quantity of product for evaluation purposes quickly or for initial builds. It is a common perception that if a catalogue distributor holds the line, it’s likely the product will be readily available from various manufacturers and sales channels, allowing purchasing professionals to source the product without too much difficulty and open up the possibility of cost-down opportunities in the future.
Catalogue distribution, also lends itself to smaller customers who may not wish to buy the manufacturers MOQ / SPQ as this would result in excess stock.
Specialist distributors like DMTL
Specialist distributors are typically small to medium company’s themselves. They don’t have the luxury of a BOM landing on their desks, full of manufacturers components they represent.
Specialist distributors have to offer a valid reason for customers to purchase a select number of lines from them. Below we look to explore some of the most common reasons why specialist distributors have their unique position in the passive electronics distribution market.
Looking after products which are critical to the customers end product.
Fully franchised, specialist distributors are happy to supply and stock components which form part of the manufacturers offering but are not deemed to be big runners by broadline / catalogue distributors, examples may include non-preferred values, high voltage parts, tight tolerance, CECC / MIL released components.
This is a specialist distributors core business model, the customer is able to have confidence they will be getting the right product at the right time.
If a manufacturer changes or discontinues the product then a franchised specialist distributor will have been provided formal notification in the form of a PCN, EOL or LTB this allows customers to take appropriate action if needed to mitigate against any potential impact of the change.
Typically specialist distributors do not have competing manufacturers or product ranges and therefore it is in their absolute interest to ensure everything possible is done to ensure the product is supported.
Manufacturers support for specialist ranges
Manufacturers themselves realise the need for specialist distributors to service the need of their customers.
They may offer a price incentive or direct technical support in the form of application engineers, product managers, R&D etc to their specialist partners. This allows the specialist to work in conjunction with the customer to supply product roadmaps, optimised parts, technical data, perform specialist tests etc, as it is understood a broadline or catalogue distributor simply has too many products types they are trying to service.
Fully franchised specialist distributors normally have less well known manufacturers on their linecard, who specialise in a certain technology or product type, examples include; high CV capacitive solutions, custom wound inductors or transformers, circuit protection devices, busbar current shunt resistors, precision resistors, current sense resistors, potentiometers, buzzer & sounders, terminal blocks, etc.
In DMTL’s case these manufacturers are predominantly Asian based, who are themselves absolute power houses in their domestic market. What might be classified as a specialist high cost product in Europe or the Americas, could be seen as a commodity product, thus the potential for releasing significant cost savings for products which are fit, form and function equivalents.
Best product for the application
With a combined ability to offer the full product range from represented manufacturers (including optimised solutions). Having access to manufacturers who concentrate on specific product / technologies and with an internal level of technical knowledge that far outstrips other distributors, allows engineers to pull from a pool of knowledge and have access to a product offering which wouldn’t be ascertainable by any other means.
DMTL have helped customers achieve their design goals with examples including; steering product roadmaps for wet tantalum capacitors to offer a much needed CV, supplying supercapacitors with flying leads, offering components with Pb lead terminations, offering custom RF capacitor assemblies, customising power resistor mounting hardware and supplying fusible resistors which also meet stringent pulse requirements.
A specialist distributor shouldn’t require you to endlessly trail through datasheets hoping you find the product you are looking for.
When contacting a specialist distributor supplying a core outline in-terms of electrical, physical & environmental requirements will be enough for them to quickly assess the likelihood of offering a suitable solution.
What can DMTL offer?
Here at DMTL we love a challenge, the more difficult, the better, we will always invest our time exploring every avenue to see if we can help.
DMTL operate successfully with companies of all sizes, we provide the support outlined above for products which need to be identified, handled and supported very differently from commodity readily available product.