Buyers and engineers have more in common than you think. Both purchase electronics components to advance a new product design, and both face the tedious and time-consuming task of generating purchase orders (POs).
During the lifespan of a new project, POs are sent to multiple sources and generate multiple costs. Companies expend roughly $160 per purchase order, according to Allison Levine, founder and CEO of software services provider DistiMonster.
“Each time an engineer or buyer procures components from a distributor or supplier, it creates an internal opex cost of close to $200,” she said. “With our platform, they can place one PO, which saves them time and money immediately.”
Through DistiMonster, users can consolidate purchase orders and bills of material (BOM) into a single file and immediately access component availability, pricing and shipping. Parts lists can be uploaded to a Monster BOM tool or components can be added individually. A personalized dashboard provides add, change and reorder options; order status and history; PCN/EOL notifications; access to data sheets; and invoice management capabilities.
But the real value is a seamless connection between EDA design, BOM and purchase order, said Pat LaRocca, president and founder.
“I’ve been in front of purchasing and engineering and they all deal with the same thing,” he said. “Some engineers are buyers and buyers work closely with engineers. At the end of such meetings I’d ‘white board’ the DistiMonster concept and they’d say, ‘that’s what I want.’”
The platform provides engineers with a single source for EDA design, part lifecycle management and NPI fulfillment. Users can cross-reference data; build a BOM; purchase parts; access millions of data sheets; and share designs. The service is easily integrated with EDA tools.
Typically, LaRocca explains, engineers design with — for example– an FPGA in mind. “The two dominant FPGA vendors, Intel (Altera) and Xilinx, are carried, respectively, by Arrow Electronics and Avnet Inc.,” he explained. “If they want to lay out a design with one or the other, they must go to each of these companies to get a sample. Every time you cut a PO, it costs money.” EDA/DistiMonster integration immediately directs engineers to component availability, pricing and procurement options. Users select the suppliers and distributors that receive their BOM.
The digitization of the electronics supply chain has streamlined such processes, according to Tony Harris, DistiMonster’s chief strategy officer. That’s important in recruiting the industry’s next-generation workforce. “This ‘M2M’ generation expects tools that are expedient, frictionless and fast. This is how they operate, and that’s where the market is going,” he said.
A recent study found some businesses still use spreadsheets and paper for supplier management. Verdantix surveyed global health and safety, procurement, operations and risk management executives. More than half use a mix of spreadsheets and paper to coordinate contractor prequalification and other vital records. Forty-one percent of respondents believe digital technology is valuable for managing contractors while 20 percent believe new technologies are essential to the success of supply chain risk management.
DistiMonster’s founders acknowledge the design chain has a lot of options for finding parts, but most fall short of “seamless.” Aggregators, for example, provide pricing and availability information for millions of components. “When you shop for a BOM,” Harris said, “one source may have only 200 of the parts you need so you have to go to another site. Aggregators send you to multiple sources.”
“We aren’t a supplier; we’re not a distributor; and we’re completely neutral on component selection,” said LaRocca. “Our job is to help point companies in the right direction before one single component is purchased.”