As an electronics sourcing specialist, your goal is undoubtedly to receive the best results from your suppliers. Purchasing electronics and electrical systems brings challenges, but these tips could improve your outcomes.
- Vet your electronics manufacturing services partners carefully
An electronics manufacturing services (EMS) partner handles aspects related to the design, testing and building of electronics devices or components. An EMS partner also has the facilities and resources to meet the needs of customers who may be unable to succeed without outside assistance. Your EMS partner can source components for you, but if you relinquish that responsibility, ask the right questions to ensure you've chosen a reputable EMS partner.
For example, has the EMS company acquired a sizeable list of suppliers? Does it have the forecasting experience to avoid delays and shortages? Also, inquire about whether the suppliers used by your EMS provider can prove they test their components before shipping them. If you use an EMS company to assist with sourcing, assessing that entity's processes could help you avoid surprises.
- Verify what your supplier can promise
Suppliers offer a variety of things to appeal to their clients, ranging from short turnaround times to rigorous testing for peace of mind. If you question whether a supplier provides you with the best possible value, review what promises it makes to you and other customers. These assurances set expectations and make it easier to compare your options.
For example, industry standards require that the power ratings for individual transformers are less than 1 percent. Some suppliers offer those components with power ratings just under that benchmark. Others produce transformers that are consistently around 0.3 percent and tested five times before they reach the market.
Whether buying transformers or something else, review which factors make some suppliers stand out more than others. Also, look at what the process is if a component reaches you and does not meet your expectations. When suppliers work hard to keep you happy and retain your business, you're more likely to have a fruitful partnership.
- Choose a supplier that matches your business volumes
A typical scenario exists whereby electronics sourcing specialists working for smaller operations choose large suppliers to meet their needs. That approach is not necessarily wrong, but it may cause you to overlook a better option. The ideal solution is to choose a supplier that prioritizes you and matches your business volumes.
If a supplier takes days to answer your phone calls and emails, that's a bad sign. It indicates that other — probably larger— customers get most of their attention.
Clearly state your specifications and deadlines, then look for actions that show the company will meet them. Selecting a supplier according to your business volume could also ease your worries during component shortages. Suppliers can't make parts magically appear. The best ones will work hard to minimize disruptions, however.
- Know the value of both strategic and tactical purchases
Sourcing is a mixture of strategic and tactical purchases. The strategic method needs a long-term viewpoint whereby purchasers negotiate with suppliers to receive the best possible prices while striving for a mutually beneficial situation for the buyer and the supplier.
Then, tactical purchases relate to immediate needs. The procurement specialists that make them place day-to-day orders to keep their companies running smoothly. Today, many EMS partners assume the bulk of tactical purchases. This routine helps them manage the inevitable unpredictability inside the supply chain.
However, strategic purchasers push suppliers to seek continual development. Such progress may happen in quality, order fulfillment times or other areas. Various scenarios dictate how often you'll make strategic purchases versus tactical ones.
As you communicate with electronics parts suppliers, understand which factors may dictate certain purchases from those entities. Decide whether an individual supplier mainly fills a strategic need or a tactical one, and let that conclusion guide your relationship.
- Prioritize sustainability as you evaluate suppliers
Procurement specialists can and should use various metrics as they ensure suppliers meet or exceed expectations. Cost and quality metrics are standard evaluation tools. Think about continuing to use those as you simultaneously show preference to suppliers that make sustainability a major concern.
Harvard Business Review recently surveyed several multinational companies to determine which approaches they take to improve supply chain sustainability. The conclusions showed numerous methods adopted.
Some directly set targets for first-tier suppliers to impose on lower-tier ones. Others gather information to determine how suppliers tackle sustainability currently. Another option is for the corporations to assist their suppliers in joining sustainable industry associations. Corporations may also collaborate with competitors to establish industry-wide standards for sustainability.
Although an emphasis on sustainability may not translate to immediate business value, it should reap long-term rewards. Taking factors like the labor market and the environment into account during procurement indicates that you care about getting electronics supplies in ways that minimize adverse effects. Your customers likely care about that now, and it may matter even more soon if people become increasingly socially conscious.
Getting the components you need at the best value is not always straightforward. However, these tips can make that all-important sourcing task more manageable.