October 7, 2016

External Pressures and Mounting Obsolescence – The Future of Obsolescence Management

big_cloud_dataA spate of recent and massive component manufacturer mergers and acquisitions leaves many questions around the longevity of supply chains and availability of relevant components within the electronics industry. Recent moves in the Franchised and Independent Distribution space are causing further uncertainty. Franchised distributors hold official agreements to market and sell components on behalf of the original component manufacturer; Independent Distributors market and sell components but do not hold official agreements to do so.

The problem is accelerating electronic component obsolescence . To solve the problems posed by critical components not being available, you need all the possible information available about the components – and that turns out to be an enormous amount of data. IBM states that we generate 2.5 million Terabytes of data globally on a daily basis. How much of it is relevant, and how to find that relevant data is another matter. And once you’ve found it, does it answer questions for you, or raise more? What tools and services do you rely on to track the detail you need?

As a further consideration, you have to consider the integrity of the data you’re relying upon. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are excellent for breaking news and events, but when looking for reliable and credible detail it pays to follow major news sites and manufacturer data releases. Component manufacturers communicate well, but often critical obsolescence data is missing, or without sufficient notice period of changes. An internal SiliconExpert study shows a massive 41% of components made obsolete are moved to this status with no communication of this change to the wider industry. More concerning still is that 30% of these parts are made obsolete immediately. So that’s no more availability from the component manufacturer, and this change is immediate!

In addition, we’re seeing significant moves in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR to potentially add Cobalt to the Conflict Minerals list along with continual updates to the EU regulation for the Restriction, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) as well as significant supply chain headaches from the upcoming revisions to the directive for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).

All of this will not only impact obsolescence, but the ways in which customers choose to handle it. All of this uncertainty means that not only do our customers need to find reliable sources for components. Even more importantly, they need the intelligence to confidently make decisions based upon data.

Converge continuously looks along all these lines. September 2016 was the second year of our annual FOM Conference in Amsterdam covering leading thinkers and innovators from across the high-reliability electronics world, concentrating on their challenges, how they address them and what resources we should collectively focus on – pan industry – to move forward together. Central to the event was ideas sharing and thought leadership (as well as a ban on ‘pitching’ by any speaker or attendee) which kept communication fresh, and meant we cultivated an environment where open discussion was encouraged.

Check our website for the impressive speakers list and check back next time for a rundown of the things we learned together. 

Blog by: Rob Picken

September 6, 2016

From What’s Possible to What’s Probable – The Future of Obsolescence Management

Rob Picken - Converge, FOM Director
Rob Picken - EMEA Director
I am the EMEA Director of Future of Obsolescence Management (FOM) at Converge, an Arrow company. Electronic components obsolescence (when components become unavailable from their original manufacturing source, for various reasons) and the technical and physical data about electronic components fascinate me. I’m fascinated because I’m keenly interested in the behaviors that data can drive. No company buys a data system because it’s “nice to have”. The expectation is that the data will help them make better decisions, but the reality is that it is often very difficult to turn data into actionable intelligence in a timely fashion.

I started my career at IHS (now IHS Markit), where I helped customers in the defence industry make sense of the huge volumes of data they were generating about their own assemblies, and how the data related to what they were seeing in the marketplace. This included everything from technical parametric data to the physical product size to how much a given component cost in a given country.

A few years ago, I built an EMEA business from the ground up for Arrow. SiliconExpert brings together the widest, deepest array of components data possible, allowing users to bend that data to any requirement, easily answering queries about environmental data or the lifecycle of components. Without SiliconExpert, engineers and decision makers often spend days collecting, collating and analysing the data at hand.

But with only the pure data it is hard to actually make a real difference. We discovered that the SiliconExpert customers often called our sister company, Converge, as well. SiliconExpert identified the problems; Converge provided tangible, physical solutions. We’ve brought the two sides together in our FOM programme.

The partnership between SiliconExpert and Converge allows us to quickly and efficiently solve very complex and otherwise very expensive problems – especially problems of obsolescence. For example, in the defence industry, redesigning assemblies can cost millions of dollars in design, test and certifying that your new design meets stringent quality and performance specifications. Redesigning involves finding an alternative component, testing it within your current design and within the intended application, and proving it works with no ancillary issues. Because this spend is usually unplanned, it causes major headaches.

For a UK-based defence client, we used SiliconExpert data on lifecycle and risks over the coming few years to identify which components were likely to be a problem. Converge took the SiliconExpert data and illustrated, within minutes, where stock lay, how vulnerable the client was in other areas, and possible solutions. Without this collaboration, it would have taken several weeks’ work for the client to identify a solution. However, in a two-hour meeting we were able to illustrate a real, preventive solution.

Component obsolescence sucks up time, resources and money and is typically resolved reactively – only after it has become an acute problem. Data can move us towards proactive solutions. The FOM initiative is new, it’s innovative and it will change the way we deal with obsolescence. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

July 26, 2016

Join Converge at Electronica 2016

electronica is back!

Messe M√ľnchen, Germany
November 8-11, 2016

If you’ve never attended electronica, there’s still time.

electronica 2016 is the leading trade fair for electronic components, systems, and applications industries worldwide. This year as in years past, the halls will be filled with approximately 2,725 participants from 52 countries and 73,000 visitors from 87 countries including decision makers and media/journalists from 30 countries covering every aspect of the electronics industry.

electronica has grown so much over the past few years that another hall was added this year to accommodate the demand.

Converge is excited to be participating in electronica once again. We will be located in Hall A4, booth# 228 directly across from Arrow Electronics booth# 225 this year. Staff representing our global locations will be available to discuss our full range of services and solutions designed for your obsolescence, hard-to-find, shortages, and excess inventory needs.

electronica is one of the longest running international electronics trade event and here are some reasons why you shouldn’t miss it this year:
  • Exhibitions cover a wide range of products and services: electronic design, embedded systems, passive components, semiconductors, testing/measurement, not to mention wireless.
  • 80% of participants at electronica share in decision making, 24% are key decision makers, and almost ½ (46%) hold management positions.
  • 97% of those who have exhibited at electronica return to exhibit and/or participate in subsequent years.
  • The electronic automotive conference, Embedded Platform Conference, IT2Industry Conference, and the Wireless Congress feature prominent speakers sharing their expertise. 
  • electronica has been a successful platform for the future of electronics, customers and suppliers alike for 50 years. 
Join us at electronica 2016, stop by Hall A4, booth #228, and learn more about what Converge, an Arrow company can do for you! 

June 13, 2016

Converge Exhibits with Arrow at Del Mar Electronics Event

DMEDSRecently, Converge attended the Del Mar Electronic and Design Show 2016 (DMEDS) in California. The DMEDS is a design and manufacturing trade show covering electronic components used throughout the supply chain including: fabrication, design, purchasing, and most aspects of electronics manufacturing. A regional event focused on the West Coast, DMEDS caterers to the electronics, medical, and biotech industries situated in the areas of San Diego County, Southern Orange County, and Imperial County.

DMEDS was held May 3-4, 2016 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego and consisted of close to 500 exhibitors spread out over 3 halls, with one hall strictly dedicated to seminars. As primary sponsor, Arrow hosted a seminar featuring SiliconExpert speaking on the hot topic of “Component Risk Management.”

Many exhibitors were able to display products from their industry including electronic components, instrumentation equipment, IC products/services, and engineering software/services etc.

Converge team members had the opportunity to network with existing customers, discuss supply chain opportunities with Arrow and subsidiaries such as Verical, and SiliconExpert as well as talk with experts in industries that design, manufacture, and test electronic products.

Overall, DMEDs provided the opportunity to bring us closer to customers, strengthening partnerships while proving our expanded presence in this region.

If you did not have a chance to visit us at Del Mar Electronics and Design Show 2016, check out our website for other upcoming events/trade shows where Converge will be participating.

May 4, 2016

Meet Our Global Director Enda Ruddy

For some time we have been introducing you to the Converge management team across the globe. In this following blog post you will meet Enda Rudy, Director EMEA Trade and FOM Globally. 

Enda Ruddy, Global Director
Q: Enda, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure. I am from Dublin, Ireland, and have been living in Amsterdam for the past 13 years. I originally came to Amsterdam to work after finishing my studies. To learn the language, I moved in with a Dutch roommate, and I ended up marrying his younger sister. We are expecting our second child this summer – a brother or sister to our son, who is two.

When I first moved here, I joined a soccer team where Tom Nelsey, Daniel Gentil, Oren Gadel, Ilja Lahtinen, and Brian Sneddon played. It became a community for us expats, and through that relationship I learned about Converge. Brian helped me get an interview. I was hired, and I started in sales more than 10 years ago.

My personal connection to work is very strong. I can compare it to my soccer team: it feels like a community. That’s something I really appreciate.

What is your role at Converge, and what career path led you to this position? 

A: I’m currently a global director, responsible for the EMEA region and our obsolescence business globally.

Although I’m not a subject matter expert on ICs or their obsolescence, luckily there are plenty of people at Converge who are. The focus on obsolescence is a direct result of the excellent work we have done across the company to serve the toughest customers – those with the most difficult requirements. It has given us the confidence to scale that expertise, and that’s where we are now.

Would you agree that product obsolescence is shifting the focus in the electronics market? Why?

A: So much of the electronics market is shifting fast; change is the only constant. I would describe obsolescence as something that has steadily been creeping up in terms of importance to the supply chain. Now there are many events and trade groups focused on it. It’s definitely a hot topic.

There are probably three main drivers for the rise of obsolescence: 1) technology is changing so rapidly that manufacturers miss the alerts that signal the end of life of a component; 2) many industries are being forced to support components for very long periods of time, without the funding to allow for adequate buffer stock; and 3) supplier consolidations mean many component lines will be discontinued.

Q: How does Converge fit into the obsolescence management process?

In terms of risk management, we have a very important role to fill. That’s an important mindset, because it’s not about selling components as much as it is about reducing the customer’s risk of having no availability or getting unauthentic parts.

It’s also interesting to think about how we fit in the broader Arrow picture. A Converge team recently visited a key customer – along with Arrow, Silicon Expert, and our test house partner in the region – to discuss a complete solution. This approach might become a typical go-to-market path in the future, because obsolescence is not a one-off event but rather an ongoing challenge with a lot of moving parts.

That’s why, by partnering with Arrow and Silicon Expert, we can provide a plan for every part the customer has, from data to last-time buy to non-Arrow line card and then to obsolete components.

How does your role within the company relate to obsolescence management?

I will be managing a team under the Future of Obsolescence Management (FOM) brand.

What is the role of obsolescence management in the current Converge business model?

We’re a portfolio distributor serving many types of customers in different ways. Obsolescence is just one part of that offering. What’s interesting is that it touches every department, especially quality and operations – those teams do an amazing job, including getting quality certifications and handling complex component inspections.

When you talk about sales, it’s now consultative. Purchasing is more about risk management; finance is figuring out how to work with customers that receive the goods only when a lengthy testing process is finished; and marketing is also doing excellent work with the FOM brand and

So, obsolescence is an important piece of the Converge jigsaw. We’re all involved in it, but all the other areas such as CPU sales, tech products, cost savings, etc. are just as essential.

You work primarily with the European market. Could you point out any regional specifications in the way obsolescence is managed – compared with Asia and Americas, for example?

Actually, that’s something I look forward to learning more about. In EMEA, we know that what works in France may not work in England or Israel, and vice versa. The small differences and details are critical. The nice thing is, we already have a global expert team in place.

Would you rather regard obsolescence as a challenging issue or a growing opportunity? Why?

Any company that can provide a service that really helps solve the obsolescence challenge faces a huge opportunity to grow.

Thank you Enda!

If you would like to contact Enda or learn more about our obsolescence management expertise drop us a line