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Simpler products = greater availability

Aug. 23, 2022
Newark reports shortages are easing in some areas, mainly commodity and less technically sophisticated products

While high-tech devices—basically anything with a microchip—remain largely unavailable, items with simpler materials and mechanics may be breaking through the supply chain logjam and gaining some availability.

“We’re finding the majority of lead times for products are actually shrinking a bit from 25-35 weeks to about 20 weeks, while lead times for most brands of discrete semiconductors and passive components are really shrinking. They’re also produced in large volumes, which is starting to bring some prices down,” says Uma Pingali, business president at Newark. “On the other hand, high-end devices with microcontrollers and semiconductors, such as PLCs and field programmable gate arrays (FPGA), still have one-year lead times. They usually also require more customization and integration, which gives engineering managers an even greater challenge when they have to wait 40-50 weeks for them to arrive. We’re still in a pressure situation, and mainly concerned with what we can’t get, but some are getting easier to source.”

See with user eyes

While it’s true that suppliers and distributors have always put themselves in the shoes of their customers to serve them better, this traditional strategy is even more important for enduring hard times and reaching brighter days. Beyond finding and securing inventory, Pingali explains that distributors and suppliers are likewise preoccupied with user experience (UX) and what their customers want to know about as their processes and technologies become more digitalized, and require 24/7 availability and support.

Read more about the supply chain

This article is part of a series about the automation supply chain. Read more on the topic here.

“Customers want to know product availability, quantity and prices; what hour they’ll be delivered; how much freight will cost; what carrier will be used; anything extra they’ll have to pay; and what mechanisms distributors have in place to provide these services,” says Pingali. “This is why we’ve also invested in an online bill of materials (BoM) system and automated procurement software that can help with demand planning and ordering.”

In addition to lengthy delays, Pingali adds it’s especially important to watch out for unreliable lead times, which can result in breaking promises to customers. “Distributors need to use state-of-the-art lead time notifications, work with suppliers, address issues proactively, immediately update their websites with the best lead time information, and be ready for any breakdowns,” says Pingali. “We’ve got hundreds of thousands of customers, and each needs to know what’s available, what’s sold out, and what’s the lead time on getting more.”

About the author: Jim Montague
About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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