November 14, 2012

Quality Q&A with a General IC Commodity Manager

How does Converge work to assure quality for customers who need to procure semiconductors from the open market? Global IC commodity manager Mark Baldyga recently sat down for a candid Q&A session about procurement. Mark has spent 14 years at Converge, and has overseen the buying and selling of general ICs for the past seven years.

Q: First of all, IC is such a broad term. What types of components does a global IC commodity manager supervise at Converge?

A: Converge assigns any IC that’s not memory or CPU to the general IC commodity team. Our team buys and sells $300 microprocessors and microcontrollers all the way down to capacitors and resistors that go for $0.002 per piece—and everything in between.

Q: What separates Converge from other companies in the IC space?

A: There are many companies that do one or two things very well. Converge is a dedicated “solutions development” company that prides itself on being the best overall procurement company in the independent distribution space. We have been in business for over 30 years and are considered to be industry thought leaders. Our three decades of customer and supplier relationships with OEMs, CEMs, and franchised distributors, combined with the largest global footprint in the industry, have made Converge the world’s most reliable independent distributor from a quality, delivery, pricing, and market intelligence standpoint.

Q: How big is the general IC commodity team at Converge?

A: We have global general IC commodity managers in the Americas, Amsterdam, and Singapore. Each of those managers has a group of buyers that work for him or her. So customers who source general ICs through Converge are utilizing a team of around 35 people who are dedicated to purchasing and providing market intelligence about that commodity in all three business regions.

Q: Market intelligence is incredibly valuable to any customer looking for hard-to-find components. But the number-one question on every electronic component buyer’s mind right now is how can you guarantee that ICs coming from the open market are safe? Doesn’t outsourcing semiconductors raise a customer’s risk level?

A: There’s not a customer on the planet that doesn’t go out into the open market without quality concerns, and rightfully so. Believe me, we think that way, too. Not only does Converge assure quality deliveries through an industry-leading inspection process manned by electronic component engineers, but Converge was also one of the first independent distributors to recognize that the key to delivering quality product to our customers was in extremely conservative policing of our open market supply chain. We established a rigorous vendor management process that has passed and impressed even our strictest customer audits.

Q: What does Converge’s vendor management process entail?

A: We keep a scorecard on every vendor generated from a complex matrix of multiple quality and performance characteristics, including product quality history and performance, as well as other key factors. Every vendor’s score results in a reliability rating that allows our buyers to source from the most reliable suppliers. Converge’s conservative approach toward sourcing has been the single most important key to our impressive record of keeping counterfeits out of the supply chain, as well as to our sustained role as the go-to distributor for helping OEMs and CMs procure hard-to-find components.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for a company looking for an open market trading partner, what would it be?

A: Make sure that the supplier you select has a vigorous, auditable supplier management program and a robust quality department, in addition to state-of-the-art inspection and verification capabilities. Inspection capabilities alone are not enough to successfully manage a counterfeit mitigation program. The cornerstone of a vibrant quality assurance program is preventing substandard parts from entering your building in the first place. Choosing a partner who operates on that level of vigilance is absolutely essential to protecting your company from the consequences of poor-quality components.

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