For the past six months, the Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) has been in a state of flux. For the procurement community, that became evident though changes to ECIAauthorized, the association’s inventory-aggregation site.
In October, some of ECIA’s biggest members – global distributors Arrow Electronics Inc., Avnet Inc. and Electrocomponents plc—left the trade association to form the Global Electronics Distributors Association (GEDA). With that decision, inventory listings from those companies, representing hundreds of component suppliers and thousands of SKUs, were pulled from ECIAauthorized.
Recently, Avnet has returned to ECIAauthorized, which now lists 70+ vendors of electronics components. At the end of last year, said Victor Meijers, ECIA senior vice president, the requirements for listing on ECIAauthorized were expanded to include franchised component lines from non-member distributors.
ECIAauthorized was launched in 2011 as a members-only site dedicated solely to franchised inventory. Other component aggregators provide price and availability from non-authorized sources, increasing buyers’ risk of sourcing counterfeit components.
The timing of the expansion wasn’t entirely a coincidence as ECIA’s largest members had recently left the association. But the ECIA had been considering adjustments to the site for a while.
"The ECIA Distributor Council felt that limiting participation on the site to only members of ECIA detracted from the primary value it provides to users: that it only lists parts from authorized sources," Meijers explained. "Allowing members of GEDA and other non-ECIA members to list authorized inventory addresses that and creates a better user experience."
Distributors are required to provide proof of authorization for the products they list on ECIAauthorized. That could include the cover letter of a franchise agreement or an e-mail from suppliers verifying authorization. Oversight will be ongoing, Meijers added, and the site is already largely self-policed. “If manufacturers see misrepresentation of their lines, they will let us know.”
Separately, "tying ECIA membership to participation on ECIAauthorized.com has limited our success in expanding global adoption of the site and its various tools," Meijers said. “We have strict criteria for membership and vetting companies in other regions can be difficult due to language barriers and our inability to always verify authorization for all of their lines. We felt that allowing non-members to display inventory for which we can verify they are authorized would increase participation and make it more attractive to users in other regions of the globe.”
Non-members posting on ECIAauthorized pay fees that are assessed on a sliding scale. Those funds are re-invested into maintenance and upgrades to the site.
The possibility of broader cooperation between the ECIA and GEDA on an inventory site has been raised, according to industry sources, but the coronavirus is now a priority for all companies in the electronics supply chain. The annual Electronics Distribution Show (EDA) has been cancelled for the first time in decades; people are working from home wherever possible; and assessment of Covid-19’s impact on business is ongoing.
“We feel [ECIA/GEDA cooperation] is in the best interest of users,” Meijers said; “but for now it is ‘wait and see.’”
ECIA has regularly been polling members on the impact of Covid-19. Respondents pointed to brightening expectations for easing pressure on the electronics component supply chain in a survey ended March 20. However, the survey also reflected the deepening worldwide crisis and presents renewed concerns for the impact on the electronics markets and supply chains.
"The number of respondents seeing a severe impact on the electronics components supply chain jumped from 2 percent to 8 percent between the previous and most recent survey," according to Dale Ford, chief analyst for ECIA. "However, the number seeing an impact ranging between moderate to severe remained constant at approximately 80 percent of respondents. The area of greatest concern is the loss of end-market demand with the automotive and industrial electronics markets continuing to represent the segments of greatest concern."
The new survey added a question about the impact of government quarantine orders and directives on a company's workforce and operations. Moderate disruption was reported by 53 percent of participants and 17 percent indicated a serious disruption.
The degree of uncertainty surrounding the continued spread of the virus and its impact on economies continues to grow and is reflected in the ongoing volatility in the financial markets, Ford added.