To stay competitive, the UK’s thriving electronics industry needs distributors that are able to offer a broad and deep partnership through the whole product life cycle: concept, prototype, initial batch manufacture, volume manufacture then on to design revisions for phase 2. So called “High Service Distribution” companies are quick to promote their online platforms and vast selection of products which enable customers to order samples and development tools with prompt delivery, however this is just a very small part of what customers require today.
Anglia believes that to claim to be “High Service Distribution” you also need to give UK customers strong pro-active design support at the concept and prototyping phases, accurate availability information for devices on the BoM, insight on lead-time changes and other issues that can arise in the supply chain, inventory and orderbook management, competitive and regularly reviewed pricing – all of these are key to a dynamic and productive partnership between customer and distributor and form the cornerstones of the service Anglia offers its customers.
An FAE team is usually the first point of contact between the customer and a distributor for a new project. A good FAE team can really make a difference to the design: pointing the designer towards devices that are the best fit technically and highlighting solutions that they may not have thought of. The best distributors invest in their FAEs and offer a team that covers the full spectrum of electronic engineering specialisms – RF, analogue, display, power etc. Anglia FAEs are trained to the same level on the same courses as the suppliers we represent, often this training is provided by the actual product developers giving a close understanding of the products in their portfolio to the same level as the vendor’s in-house team. Anglia FAEs are trained to be able to go beyond addressing simple technical queries to actively encouraging innovation and forward thinking.
Sometimes, a customers’ needs extend beyond the support FAEs offer, into creating schematics, writing code and producing PCBs. They may require specific expertise in areas such as RF & Microwave, software, analogue, power etc. Anglia’s Design Partner programme provides access to the best independent design consultants in the UK that we can confidently recommend to our customers to work seamlessly with their design team on their projects. Chosen for their experience of designing for OEM and Industrial applications, they can help accelerate customers’ design cycles, often with expertise in specific areas.
Free development tools and samples
As design and engineering teams get started on a project, they will often want to evaluate several different device options on the bench, testing them specifically within the constraints of that design. Anglia believes it should be easy to access the latest component technologies, that’s why we created 'Ezysample', the no questions asked free sample service for UK and Ireland customers from Anglia. The Ezysample service doesn’t just offer free component samples, we also offer free development boards to support the design process.
A good distribution partner can provide much more than just recommendations on technical suitability. Through the distributors awareness of the market and close links with manufacturing partners, customers can be guided away from parts which are likely to suffer from long term availability issues.
Good distributors will also support customers with regulatory challenges like RoHS 3. Anglia works closely with all of our suppliers to provide customers with accurate documentation on devices that are already compliant, devices that are becoming compliant and devices that will not be offered in compliant form.
PCN and PTN
With many online distribution services, customers can readily obtain small pack quantities of devices which have already been made end of life (EOL) by their manufacturers, also where a product is due to go EOL often there is no prompt warning of the impending situation. Whilst availability of EOL devices is great for service engineers this is very dangerous for designers. Anglia remove the risk of designing in an EOL product by providing detailed availability information alongside the technical specifications on their website. In addition to product change notifications (PCN) and product termination notifications (PTN), the information includes live current stock levels, stock due and the expected arrival date, and the supplier lead time. All of this information is published on Anglia Live free of charge – and is even available to customers who don’t currently buy from us.
When it comes to ensuring continuing availability of all of the parts on the BoM/AVL, the key is to work closely with suppliers. If we as a distributor receive forecasts of what level of requirement customers have and when they need it, we are in a good position to cushion them against lengthening lead times or product terminations. We can also put in place a buffer stock of a device before it gets withdrawn or changed, providing a valuable extra few months of supply to allow the part affected to be designed out. When regulations change we can ensure that all of our customers’ inventory is compliant in a timely fashion so they aren’t left with any unusable devices. Many customers now use the Anglia 80/20 service, where they hold inventory on their own site and pay for it as they use it. This service provides a great starting point for us to work together to manage anticipated obsolescence challenges.
A personal relationship
Anglia believes a successful partnership should be based on a strong interpersonal relationship backed by well thought out and reliable procedures. Each Anglia customer has a personal contact at Anglia – someone to call with questions and challenges. This individual is located at our head office, and is in close touch with Field Applications Engineers and Field Sales Engineers serving that customer, ensuring a consistent joined up approach that looks at the whole relationship. Key responsibilities include regular pricing reviews to ensure competitive pricing and careful order book management to prevent any delays or issues in the supply chain.
True High Service Distribution
In summary Anglia believe the relationship between customers and their chosen distribution partner is complex and cannot be fulfilled with basic services such as those offered by many online ordering platforms. Anglia prides itself in offering our customers a complete distribution service that we believe is second to none and is our definition of a truly High Service Distribution model.