Smart Buying of Electronic Components
Designing and learning about electronic circuits can often be fun and rewarding. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be visiting us here at CircuitBread! But as your knowledge and skill in electronics increase, you might be faced with some challenges. One of these is how and where to find the parts you need for your prototypes and how to find the quantities you need if you’re planning to make additional copies of your design.
First, it’s important to remember that you can often find parts that will work to fill a specific need in a single circuit, especially when your designs are simple. Finding production quantities of that same part, however, at times, be a problem. Engineering wants to find a part that works. Purchasing needs to find quantities of that part at the right price.
In addition, as your circuit designs mature and grow more complex, you may need more obscure parts or ones in heavy demand. So, the most important component sourcing tip early in your learning curve might just be to anticipate and design with future production in mind. You don’t want to find that your creative circuit idea works, but reproducing it will be difficult.
A Few Suggestions
There are several more broad tips that you may want to remember about sourcing components as you advance in the field. None is more important than anticipation and planning, but here is a high-level view of some considerations that can help direct your parts procurement efforts.
1. Be flexible. Your brainstorming product or circuit idea may require some engineering flexibility. Be aware that sourcing components for availability, cost, or delivery times may often require specification trade-outs on your part.
2. Establish productive relationships. If you are working at a manufacturer, make friends with production. They will need you, and you will need them if your designs move forward. Reliable, authorized component distributors can also be an invaluable resource for you on component substitutions, availability, shipping, and pricing.
3. Make sure you have the latest component data. Don’t pull a product data sheet from the back of a file cabinet, and expect it to contain the latest specs. You need to know what’s available now, whether or not it will work in your design, and if you can get it tomorrow.
4. Don’t neglect standards and regulatory requirements. If your design might be included in a critical system, like a healthcare product, you may need to follow industry consensus standards or government regulations that can determine which components you can use.
5. Consider production realities. Taking a product into production encompasses more than scaling up an approved design. It must also consider volume sourcing, incoming and outgoing tests, out-of-spec parts, current shipping realities, etc.
6. Understand and plan for product lifecycles. All components have a product lifecycle. If your design requires critical parts, be aware of possible End-of-Life (EOL) notices or other complications from the manufacturer that can disrupt your supply line. Some authorized component distributors offer EOL programs to help you plan. You can view a sample EOL solution at OnlineComponent.com’s sister company Master Electronics as one of their solutions.
7. Use Digital Tools. Even if you are just learning how to design circuits, it is important to leverage the power of digital tools to keep track of your parts, specs, timelines, etc. You can access a simple and useful Lead Time Calculator via OnlineComponent.com’s toolbox here.
Producing well-planned and useful products is a goal of most engineers in their professional quest for “design elegance”. Designs that have not been translated into workable products that can be easily reproduced and used to solve a problem are just that – designs.
As you learn more and more about the field of electronics, and the design of products that can add to the value of life for consumers and businesses, you will understand the importance of proper component selection that allows for the realities and limitations of manufacturing. You can read more about tips for sourcing components for your designs, and some of the best practices that purchasing professionals use, by visiting our friend of CircuitBread, OnlineComponents.com, at https://www.onlinecomponents.com/en/blogpost/general-buying-tips-for-electronic-components-553/
Consider your ideas and plan your designs carefully to reach your goals. And get the help you need early, often, and wherever you can.