December 30, 2013

Converge Wraps Up 2013

We made it! Converge has had such a busy year we felt it was only fitting to recap for the end of year our past blogs for 2013.

So…Converge kicked off 2013 by discussing the results of our Annual Customer Satisfaction survey sharing some valuable feedback that customers provided to make further improvements on the services we provide globally.

We then introduced a series introducing some our key global leaders such as Bobby Ireland - Director of Global Business Trade Operations, Cannie Kok - Director of APAC Commodity & Purchasing, and Eric Wu - Director of Sales in APAC for South Asia and how their function provides Converge customers value.

We followed up by highlighting some of the major industries served, specifically Telecommunications and highlighted some of our regional offices in Israel, Shanghai and Sweden which not only provide the same services as our corporate offices in Peabody, MA, but also provide additional visibility in areas of the world most electronic distributors can’t.

We also introduced Pathfinder, an enhancement to our proprietary software system that improves our sales process, helps identify additional cost savings, and provides shortage solutions and surplus inventory mitigation for our customers.

Next we talked extensively about Converge’s commitment to quality, our strict compliance/logistics procedures, our C-TPAT recertification, the amazing implementation of 5S to improve quality/efficiency, as well as our quest to be AS-6081 certified.

But there was more. In another blog, we discussed common causes of shortages and what actions can be taken to alleviate procurement challenges during this period of the market cycle.

And finally, we introduced our readers to the Converge Global Operations team (Cannie Kok -Director of Commodities for APAC, Bobby Ireland - Director of Global Business Trade Operations, and Spence Huffstetler - Manager of NA Trade Operations). We outlined how their function takes them a step back from all the day-to-day sourcing and surplus management activities so they can measure the overall business objectives and establish specific goals to help grow and continue to support the business.

What a year it’s been!

We are so proud of our accomplishments and familiarizing our readers with what it takes to be a leader in the independent electronics components distribution industry.

Stay tuned for more in 2014!

December 5, 2013

Where Did We Come From? A Look at Converge’s History

We’ve come a long way, baby…

When it comes to technology and innovation, 33 years is quite a long time.

Over three decades ago, before IBM launched its first PC and Apple launched its first Macintosh, the early beginnings of Converge had already started to take root. In 1980, a company called New England Circuit Sale was founded. Later renamed NECX, the company developed a unique database system for tracking and pricing electronic components. A few years later, its first proprietary electronic parts tracking system was released, thereby establishing the company in the industry with the first centralized electronics exchange.

The purpose of the database system and electronics exchange was to more accurately track and fulfill demands in the marketplace that up until that time had been almost nonexistent.

When the legendary parts shortage of the early ’90s finally subsided, the organization set the stage for future growth by expanding globally into Sweden, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

In 2000, an independent organization founded by 16 leading high-tech OEMs, contract manufacturers, component manufacturers, and distributors acquired NECX and renamed the company Converge. In 2004, Converge shifted its focus to trade business and launched an IT asset disposition (ITAD) division and a reverse supply chain solutions group. Also at that time, the organization further expanded its global footprint, opening offices in France, China, and Stockholm.

Not surprisingly, in 2007, Converge received media recognition by being named the largest independent distributor of electronic components in a ranking of the 10 largest companies in the industry. In addition, Electronic Business magazine listed Converge as the top independent distributor of electronic components and supply chain services in its annual “Top 25 North American Electronic Component Distributors” rankings.

In 2010, Converge became a subsidiary of Arrow Electronics. The corollary divisions known as ITAD-IT asset disposition and ReSolve - reverse supply chain division were reorganized according to service function under Arrow offerings.

Today, Converge is an Arrow Company and still a leading global supply chain partner for technology-driven companies. With Arrow’s backing and over 33 years of market expertise in shortage solutions and surplus inventory management, coupled with a rigorous 100+ quality inspection process, Converge has not only helped organizations manage their supply chain but has also reduced risks where electronic components distribution is concerned.

So when we say “we’ve come a long way,” that is an understatement.

To learn more about Converge’s global presence, history or service offerings, please contact us at info@converge.com.

November 12, 2013

Converge Benefits from Being C-TPAT Certified

What is C-TPAT?

C-TPAT stands for the Customs — Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which is a collaborative understanding between a business and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency that involves common security requirement standards for the importation of goods or products into the United States. Although it’s an entirely voluntary certification, there are certain requirements for eligibility that a company must meet:

  • A business must have a staffed office in the U.S.
  • A business must be an active U.S. importer or nonresident Canadian importer with a record ID (U.S. Social Security number, U.S. IRS ID(s), or CBP-assigned importer ID).
  •  A business must have a valid import bond that is continuous and registered with CBP.
Upon application approval a company is assigned a supply chain specialist to review, evaluate, and provide suggestions regarding supply chain/import procedures (logistics/compliance), security, employee training, and the overall handling of products/goods before the business is certified. Then once certified, a business must conduct an annual security profile review in order to maintain its certification.

What does it mean to be C-TPAT certified?

Being C-TPAT certified means that a business is willing to invest in the security and protection of its products and the import of its customers’ products. For that reason, most supply chain forwarders/shippers and major OEMs/CEMs won’t do business with an independent distributor that is not C-TPAT certified.

What are the benefits of being C-TPAT certified?

A C-TPAT certified member:
  • Is less likely to be subject to customs inspections and is granted frontline privileges for ocean container imports
  • Will be given priority in customs lines in the event of a national emergency and/or terrorist act
  • Has access to additional training to improve security within its supply chain, which can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings
  • Can continue long-standing relationships with CEMs, OEMs, and forwarders/shippers
  • Is more highly regarded for reputation and brand equity when securing business
C-TPAT certified companies are also open to random audits at any time, including when they are due for recertification. This year Converge was one of the independent distributors randomly selected for a C-TPAT audit. With help from our logistics department and their due diligence throughout the audit process, Converge was proudly recertified in September.

As we have mentioned in our previous blogs posts, Converge is in never-ending pursuit of the best quality and security for our customers.

For more information on our certifications or memberships, please contact us directly at info@converge.com.

October 15, 2013

Converge Discusses Cause and Action for Shortages

In the electronics component, industry shortages are often unpredictable and can happen for many different reasons. Most long-standing companies tend have a backup plan in place to address times of shortage. However, for companies without a plan for the inevitable, there are several factors to consider.

Shortages can arise if...

  • There is a reduction in production due to increases in manufacturing costs, a material shortage or a downsizing of workforce.
  • A new technology/component is introduced into the market, making the older versions either hard-to-find, end-of-life or obsolete.
  • There are seasonal demands and/or inaccurate forecasting.
  • A major OEM’s production line shuts down due to a natural disaster or unforeseen event.
In times of shortage, desperate times call for desperate measures. Out of necessity, manufacturers search for supply in the open market through brokers or independent distributors. Typically, if they have adequate resources, they can employ their own market intelligence and planning to secure product at the onset of an unforeseen event. But what if they don’t? What are some options?
  • Manufacturers can try to procure components in the open market on their own through brokers or distributors, but this option can be extremely risky and costly.
  • Manufacturers can also compile an approved vendor list should the primary source have long lead times or no product availability to fulfill their demand. However, dedicating internal resources to this process can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Another option is to partner with a reputable independent distributor, like Converge, which has an established market intelligence network in place; reliable, trusted relationships with approved vendors in the open market; a team of expert commodity managers available 24/7; a global footprint; and a rigorous quality control and inspection process.
The bottom line is there are so many factors that can quickly influence supply and demand in the market. Why not be prepared and partner with an independent distributor with over 30 years of experience in dealing with electronics component shortages?

For more information on our shortage solutions, please contact us at info@converge.com.

September 30, 2013

Why a Converge Regional Office in Sweden?

In previous blog posts, we highlighted our regional offices in Shanghai, China, and Herzliya, Israel, covering Asia and the Middle East regions, but Converge’s migration to a global organization really began with our presence in Europe.

Converge’s regional office in Stockholm, Sweden, opened in 1998, not too long before our Amsterdam corporate office was established. Stockholm, located on the southeast coast of Sweden (Baltic Sea), is the most densely populated city in Sweden, accounting for approximately one-quarter of the country’s population.

Although Stockholm had its struggles early in its history, during the later part of the 19th century it slowly began to emerge as a more modern, ethnically diverse, and technologically advanced city. Now its culture is rich in art (galleries, theaters, and museums) and architecture as well as diverse in entertainment and cuisine.

Over the past few decades, Stockholm’s economy has managed to remain steady, with the majority of the workforce employed primarily in the service industry. However, within the past decade, the high-technology industry has actually accounted for the majority of jobs created. Companies such as Ericsson and IBM have established themselves in the IT center of Kista.

Converge, identifying a need in the electronic components supply chain and an opportunity in a growing economy and industry, was the first US-based independent distributor to break ground in Europe. Our Stockholm home office is responsible for handling Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. In addition, we handle the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Currently, it is staffed with a business development team, experienced sales and purchasing Account Managers supporting the Nordics and Baltics regions as well as overall EMEA.

Converge provides quality parts and services not only to Stockholm’s leading Telecommunications market but also to the Home Energy, Computer and Peripherals, Industrial/Embedded, and Consumer Electronics verticals from any one of our regional or corporate offices. Being a consistent and reliable provider of quality electronic components during times of shortages or surplus is who we are, and having a presence on each continent is how we have maintained strong, long-standing relationships with our customers.

For more information on our Stockholm office, some of our other global locations, or the services we provide, please contact us at info@converge.com.

August 22, 2013

Why a Converge Regional Office in Shanghai?

In today’s blog, we would like to turn our attention to our regional office in Shanghai, China.

Shanghai, sometimes referred to as “Queen of the Orient” was just a fishing port decades ago. Today Shanghai is not only one of the largest cities in the world, but also the largest and most expensive city in the People’s Republic of China. With a population of over 23 million, this major city is located in the eastern part of China on the Yangtze River Delta and borders the East China Sea and Hangzhou Bay.

Unbeknown to some of our readers, Shanghai’s famous Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower has been featured in some highly acclaimed films such as Mission Impossible and the Fantastic Four. Also noteworthy is Shanghai’s Magley train; connecting the city to its airport, it is the world’s fastest train with the highest recorded speed of 431 kmph (279 mph).

But in addition to its colorful history and tourist allure, Shanghai is considered a major financial center, generating up to 20% of GDP for China, with industrial technology being its largest contributing market vertical. With all this opportunity and an exponentially growing economy, it is certainly understandable why Converge would locate an office in this thriving city.

In January of 2003 Converge officially opened its Shanghai regional office. The goal behind the additional China location is to further increase our presence and reach in such a developing marketplace. The Shanghai office manages all supply chain business that is primarily focused in East China. It currently employs a staff of 22, consisting of 11 account managers, 7 sourcing representatives, and 4 business support staff.

Similar to other Converge regional offices, Shanghai offers a full suite of services in shortage solutions such as procurement of end-of-life (EOL) and obsolete components, and surplus inventory management options, all backed by an industry-leading quality management and inspection process.

And no matter in what region of the world you may conduct business, the bottom line is that technology-driven companies will always need to partner with a reliable and reputable independent distributor that has the global reach to ensure product fulfillment.

To learn more about Converge’s global footprint or our regional office in Shanghai, please drop us a line at info@converge.com

  
For information on another regional office, see our last blog highlighting Converge’s regional office in Herzliya, Israel.

August 13, 2013

Converge’s Endless Commitment to Quality

Why are we so obsessed with “Quality”? One reason may be that we have quite a bit to say about it. But mainly it’s because we are proud of our commitment to excellence in all areas of quality.

In past blogs posts, we have focused on individual areas of quality and how they impact our business and the electronics industry. In this blog, we would like to take a step back and provide our readers with a retrospective of the quality process.

If we look at the big picture it’s fair to say that “Quality” is one of the most common buzzwords in the electronics components industry today. Any independent distributor, broker, or franchise distributor you talk to will within minutes bring up the topic to either boast about their quality achievements or discuss the challenges that may face them.

Quality is essentially engrained in every aspect of the business, whether it’s providing quality customer service or quality components, or even just in the quality processes. And quite frankly, there is no tolerance for inefficient processes.

So what are the reasons Converge’s quality is so recognized in the electronic components industry?

  • Converge has a global commodity management team that utilizes their individual market expertise to provide insight on shortages, surplus inventory, and procurement opportunities in the marketplace.
  • Our vendor management program, which is a strict vendor screening and management program, identifies, qualifies, and approves suppliers while monitoring their performance throughout every transaction.
  • Our continually evolving multi-point quality inspection process now includes over 101 checkpoints.
  • Our component quality engineers are trained and certified to the IDEA–ICE 3000 standard and recertified every 2 years.
  • Our global facilities contain the latest testing equipment and technology, including baking ovens, XRF guns, X-ray/decapsulation machines, and an identification tool for CPU testing.
  • We have also adopted and implemented the 5S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain) workplace organizational method to optimize workflow efficiency.
  • And finally, our in-house reporting, monitoring, and annual customer satisfaction survey provides us with critical feedback on how we are performing and helps us identify areas for continual improvement.
Although that seems like a long list of dedication to quality improvement, we know that striving for quality excellence doesn’t stop there. For Converge, we believe that quality excellence is and always will be an endless process.

For more information on Converge’s quality processes and procedures, please drop us a line at info@converge.com.

July 23, 2013

Converge’s Global Operations Team

When you think of a global operations team, you might envision a tactical military operations team preparing for a mission that includes various functions such as: strategizing, reporting, analyzing, researching, and/or observing.

At Converge, our Global Operations Team works in a very similar fashion, but in a business operations sense. Our Global Operations Team consists of three global leaders: Cannie Kok, Director of Commodities for APAC; Bobby Ireland, Director of Global Business Trade Operations; and Spence Huffstetler, Manager of NA Trade Operations. Each of them has a background and expertise that complement the team and provide operational diversity.

The Global Operations Team’s function is essentially to take a step back from the day-to-day electronic components sourcing and surplus management activities to measure the overall business objectives and establish specific goals for completion. By utilizing available tools to measure the current business objectives, the team is able to strategize on further market penetration and other growth opportunities. The team also ensures that the focus of the managers and directors is where it needs to be, relative to the market conditions.

The team is constantly monitoring and reporting on opportunities, sales, vertical penetration, and operational processes. One of its goals is to ensure that there are reliable procedures and consistent measurements in place to guarantee the integrity of the information being reported. Standardization of all business functions globally, across all our offices in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC, is the ultimate goal. The team’s reporting provides the regional managers and directors with real-time information to guide the account representatives, traders, and account executives in various aspects of the business.

By leveraging the strengths of and capturing ideas from other regions, the Global Operations Team can implement specific ideas to assist in growing the business. This encourages an ongoing and open line of communication between regions and within departments.

Some of the other areas the Global Operations Team specifically manages are:

  • Cross-selling
  • IT initiatives – reporting tools, updating and developing software
  • Business metrics – reporting and tracking
  • Training – education and reorientation of processes and procedures that may not be seen on a daily basis
  • Vertical market penetration and opportunities
The Global Operations Team certainly has a full plate these days. And while it's difficult to define every single function the team will perform – because they deal with so many different aspects of the overall business – their mission will remain the same: continue to develop tools to improve our overall operations and communications while identifying and capturing new opportunities globally to expand business.

We are confident that having the Converge Global Operations Team in place will ensure Converge’s mainstay, reputation, and recognition for years to come.

For more information about Converge, please contact us info@converge.com.

July 2, 2013

Why a Converge Regional Office in Israel?

Over the past several years Israel has become a lucrative marketplace for some major high-tech companies, especially those in the telecommunications, medical and military industries – and many of these companies have been longtime business partners of Converge.

Converge saw opportunity in the Middle East long before this migration began and has been building relationships in this region since before 2003, which is one of the reasons why in 2007 the decision was made to officially establish a regional office in Herzliya, Israel.

Herzliya (population of just over 80,000) is a city located along the beautiful northern coastline of the Tel Aviv District in the industrial sector, only a 15-minute drive from downtown Tel Aviv. Most recently the area near the marina has become an increasingly popular tourist attraction, with its pristine beach, vibrant nightlife, and a variety of restaurants and shops providing this small city with some economic benefit.

Converge’s Herzliya office is currently staffed with Middle East Regional Manager Oren Gadel and Account Managers Ziv Rosen and Israel Biton. Our Herzliya office is primarily responsible for business in Israel, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.

Some readers might be wondering if conducting business in the Middle East is any different than in other regions.

There is still that one-to-one personal approach that is preferred primarily due to the country’s size and culture. In this small city/industry everyone pretty much knows everyone, so if a distributor has not established a good reputation like Converge has it might be faced with some difficulty securing business. Customers in this region are educated about the technology in the marketplace and therefore expect the highest level of quality parts and services the first time around. Second chances are not common in this highly competitive market.

Converge is able to offer the same quality parts and services from our Herzliya office as we do and always have worldwide across all our corporate and regional offices. This is due to our secure vendor base, quality processes and integrated systems, not to mention our extensive market knowledge. Specializing in surplus inventory solutions and end-of-life, hard-to-find, and obsolete components is what makes us “best in class.”

Converge has been a consistent provider of surplus management solutions and electronic components shortages year after year, regardless of market condition or region. For us, we know that getting it right the first time saves you, our customer, both time and money.

Before we conclude, there’s one last piece of technology history that may not be common knowledge and that we would like to share with our readers. Did you know that the technologies of flash memory (disk on key) and instant messaging actually originated in Israel?

Interesting...

For more information on our regional office in Israel and the services we provide in that region, contact us at info@converge.com.

June 20, 2013

Converge in the Telecommunications Industry

In a previous blog post, we discussed what it takes to provide services to some of the largest electronics industries. One of the larger industries we mentioned was telecommunications, which continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. This market is ever-changing and innovative, with consumers driving demand by insisting on better services and added features, especially in the mobile/tablets markets. As a result, technology innovators need to stay ahead of the demand curve and their competitors if they plan to stay in business.

If we take a look at the telecommunications industry, we see that it is typically viewed as being split up into two sectors: services and equipment. In 2012, according to several different industry research companies, revenue from the equipment sector (which refers to the manufacturers and technology innovators) reached close to $2 trillion, and the services sector (online platforms) revenue was supposedly just under $1.5 trillion.

Wow! That is certainly impressive.

However, this growing industry has had its growing pains along the way, no doubt. For example, in 2011, the overall global economic downturn – or, as many have called it, the “recession” – resulted in manufacturers having to slow down production and cut costs in order to protect their profit margins. This also had a trickle-down effect on the distributors supplying parts to these manufacturers.

This economic downturn turned consumers into smarter and more frugal shoppers. Retailers had no choice but to respond with more sales, rebates, and free introductory services/products to secure revenue and inventory.

Despite the economy, the demand for these electronics products (HD TVs, smartphones, and tablets) remained considerably high, although it certainly was not increasing at the exponential rates that we had seen in previous years. Consumers began to be much more cautious when deciding on whether to use disposable income for electronics products.

Global economic uncertainty is still prevalent, but Converge is no newcomer to the telecommunications industry or to the challenges faced by those in the supply chain.

Converge has been supplying components for the latest products for more than 30 years – meeting the demands of this evolving industry and manufacturers’ design requirements during the most critical times. We know that not having the right parts at the right time can be detrimental to manufacturers’ production and their bottom lines.

We specialize in procuring electronic components, whether they are hard-to-find, obsolete, last-time buys (LTBs), or end-of-life (EOL). We also provide surplus remarketing solutions, value-added services and deliver quality components guaranteed through our multi-point inspection process. No matter what your telecommunications and data communications needs include, you can depend on Converge.

For more information on the industries we provide solutions for, visit our website or contact us at info@converge.com.

May 28, 2013

Converge Reaches Across Industries

Technology has come so far so fast it’s now hard to imagine any industry or product that does not have a need for some type of electronic component. Everything we seem to touch and utilize in our modern day contains some type of board, processor, chip, sensor or switch. With the ongoing advancement of technology, the need for suppliers/distributors becomes obvious.

Although some suppliers have established a reputation and have been around for decades, not all independent distributors are the same. Some specialize in certain components for specific industries, and others may supply parts only for a particular finished product. But no matter what type of component, product or industry they supply, all distributors have one thing in common; They all must procure their parts from manufacturers or vendors somewhere in the world.

Procurement of a part requires a company to have a reliable source — a vendor that has been vetted, approved and has established an ongoing relationship. That vendor must be depended upon to provide the highest-quality parts regardless of the industry or product.

And it doesn’t stop with having just one trusted and reliable source. A distributor with global reach in a supply chain is expected to have a variety of approved vendors across all industries. This provides customers with the best surplus remarketing solutions and with the most options for the timely fulfillment of parts, especially in a shortage market.

Managing a list of reliable and approved vendors across all major vertical markets is no easy task; a distributor should have some type of vendor management or quality control processes in place to maintain a database of approved vendors, monitor vendor performance and track orders.

Converge not only has the established global partnerships and standardized processes in place but we also have over three decades of market intelligence experience procuring components in industries such as Computers and Peripherals, Consumer Electronics, Home Energy, Industrial Automation/Embedded, and Telecommunications as well as some of the higher-reliability markets. These industries represent some of the fastest-growing segments of the electronics industry, with demand fluctuations that are most often dependent on existing market conditions.

For example, the Telecommunications market may have a history of high demand for network processors and modem chips, whereas the Computers and Peripherals market may have had a higher demand for CPUs and LCDs.

But no matter how the specific demand or requirement varies depending on the product, volume, end user or regulations, Converge understands that our customers need the latest parts quickly to continue meeting the challenges of these growing markets and evolving technology.

Regardless of the part or industry, we are the trusted sourcing partner you can depend on.

For more information on the industries we service and/or the components we supply, contact us.

May 9, 2013

What Is the New AS6081 Standard?

SAE recently released the new AS6081 Standard, otherwise defined as Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts: Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation, and Disposition – Distributors.

So what does all that mean?

The new AS6081 is a quality standard designed to provide an even higher level of protection against counterfeit components for customers in the aerospace/defense industry and the global supply chain.

This new standard released by the SAE International G-19 Distributor Committee allows electronic component distributors in high-reliability markets to:


  • Help identify reliable sources to procure parts through supplier/vendor management 
  • Evaluate/mitigate risk of fraudulent/counterfeit parts being distributed
  • Assist in controlling suspect or confirmed fraudulent/counterfeit parts
  • Properly report suspect and confirmed fraudulent/counterfeit parts to other potential users and Authority Having Jurisdiction
Those of you who have read any of our blogs know how seriously Converge takes quality and counterfeit prevention. In fact, we are constantly evaluating and improving our processes and procedures to ensure that we are procuring electronics components of the highest quality. Every component that passes through our facility must go through a rigorous quality inspection process. So, what better way to prove to our customers how committed we are to quality, security, and continual improvement than to seek certification in the new AS6081 Standard?

In January, Converge completed one of the first AS6081 implementation training sessions sponsored by SAE International in preparation for the certification audit.

The training session provided detailed information on AS6081 requirements and included topics such as:

  • Overview on the rise of counterfeit components in the supply chain
  • The certification process
  • How to incorporate this standard into current quality management systems
  • Identifying various AS6081 test methods
  • Developing a plan for implementation and compliance
Although the official date for when the accreditation and certification bodies will be ready to begin conducting the audits is not known, it is expected to be sometime later this year. In the meantime, Converge has been busy preparing for this extensive audit to ensure that we are fully compliant well in advance. Our goal is to obtain AS6081 certification at the earliest date possible from the accreditation and certification bodies when they become authorized to perform the audits to the standard.

This is yet another level of quality reassurance that we can provide our high-reliability customers in the electronic components supply chain.

For more information on our certifications and the AS6081 Standard, contact us.

April 24, 2013

Converge Enhances Q-Trade with Pathfinder

If we stop and think about how many programs and systems companies utilize to conduct business on a daily basis, it would make sense that they should all be working collaboratively to provide the highest caliber of service to its customers.

Procuring electronic components and managing surplus inventory in the independent market are already involved enough without having to worry about whether the systems a company has in place are accurately and effectively working together to your benefit.

Unfortunately, smaller, independent distributors and brokers may consider this type of system a luxury rather than a necessity. However, larger established independents realize that in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace any system implemented should be accessible online in real-time, fully integrated, and in most cases, global.

In a previous blog post, we introduced readers to our Consignment Visibility Tool, which is only one component of Converge’s robust data management and analysis system, Q-Trade. Q-Trade is a proprietary, globally integrated system that provides our sales team efficient and timely data to meet our customers’ demand and supply chain needs. Q-Trade, consisting of a Global Visibility System (GVS), Master Parts Reference (MPR), Converge AutoMatchTM, and a Consignment Visibility System (CVS), has now added the benefits of “Pathfinder” to its list.

Pathfinder is a tool that identifies the best transactional opportunities in the marketplace for our customers by expanding different data sources used to match the supply and demand of electronic components. It uses automated analytics that simplify and improve our sales process while helping to identify larger opportunities and additional cost savings, increase matching probability, and provide shortage solutions and surplus inventory mitigation for Converge’s customers.

Pathfinder essentially helps bridge any gaps to form better partnerships in the marketplace between suppliers and buyers through repeat business, shorter fulfillment times, more available supply, and increased visibility to stock in the marketplace.

Pathfinder provides Converge with a competitive advantage and increased transactional velocity with our customers, which is a definite win-win.

For more information on our globally integrated systems and the services we provide, visit our website or contact us at info@converge.com.

April 10, 2013

The Ins and Outs of Global Compliance and Logistics at Converge

Compliance and logistics are often said to be the backbone of an electronics distributor, especially one with an established global presence. Without these two important functions, companies buying and selling electronic components worldwide would be unable to fulfill demand and/or even compete for business.

But all companies exporting any kind of product are bound by and must comply with strict government regulations and compliance procedures. This requires not only experienced personnel and resources but also time to prepare/verify a product for export and ensure that it’s not being shipped to a sanctioned country or restricted party.

Some independent distributors, due to their size and limited capabilities, must outsource this function because it can be quite labor intensive and cumbersome to perform in-house.

However, Converge's global compliance and logistics teams are in-house, experienced personnel consisting of a Compliance Manager, Logistics Manager, Compliance Analysts, and Traffic Specialists. Our teams follow a stringent step-by-step compliance process for all electronic components imported and exported, which can begin even before the product is actually in the warehouse. This process can include:

  • Verifying that the sales order has a value
  • Screening customer/vendor accounts (ship to, bill to, and ultimate consignee) against restricted parties lists (RPLs)
  • Identifying product classifications—obtaining the harmonized tariff schedule (HTS), local tariff number, and export control classification number (ECCN) for all line items being exported
  • Confirming a license determination for each export transaction
  • Verifying end-use certificate is on file and obtaining it if it is not 
  • Following U.S. and in-country national export regulations and strategic goods control system when exporting from distribution hub outside the U.S.
The compliance process we have in place protects us and provides our customers with security while ensuring that each transaction goes smoothly without delays.

Once compliance has completed all the necessary steps, the order is released and cleared for processing through our logistics team, which must also follow a series of steps to prepare the product for shipment. These steps include:

  • Verifying all shipping documents, including SO/PO, method of shipping (carrier/freight forwarder), agreed delivery requirements and providing compliance information to the customs broker
  • Coordinating shipments with freight forwarders and negotiating competitive rates
  • Approving additional freight-related costs (typically handled by the Logistics Manager)
  • Logging shipments into the automated export system (AES) when applicable
  • Ensuring the proper packaging for utmost protection of the product
At the same time that our logistics team is preparing for shipment, our IDEA-certified Component Quality Engineers (CQEs) and Component Quality Specialists (CQSs) are following a quality management process whereby the product is put through a standardized multi-point inspection/shipping checklist, which can include up to 102 points, before leaving our possession.

Converge’s presence with global and regional hubs located in Peabody, MA (38K sq ft), Amsterdam (50K sq ft), Singapore (26K sq ft), and Hong Kong (7K sq ft) guarantees our customers efficient deliveries, local standardized inspections (regardless of where the product was procured from), and the highest packaging standards that go way beyond the minimum industry standards.

Our compliance, logistics, and quality/warehouse teams in each region are experienced, committed, and ready to fulfill any order. That’s the kind of assurance expected from an independent distributor and one of the reasons why customers keep partnering with us.

To learn more about our compliance and logistics services or global locations, please contact us at info@converge.com.

March 27, 2013

Global Converge Leaders in APAC: Meet Eric Wu

Continuing with our Global Leaders blog series, we introduce you to Eric Wu, Converge’s Global Business Leader in the APAC region. 

Meet Eric Wu, Global Converge Leader in APAC

 

 
Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Converge. Is there something that you specialize in for the company?

A: My title is Director of Sales in APAC for South Asia. My responsibilities include managing our regional sales team, daily sales activity and tactical operations. I work closely with my regional managers to support and strengthen each regional sales team, identify the potential markets and expand business.

Q: What region do you primarily serve?

A: I primarily serve South Asia, including Asean, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and India.

Q: How long have you worked at Converge?

A: I have been with Converge a little over ten years. I spent the first five years in Shanghai and the past five years in Singapore.

Q: Tell us a little about your background. What career path led you to Converge?

A: I joined Converge in OEM sales in Shanghai ten years ago. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work in a few different roles while at Converge: seller, buyer, regional manager, commodity manager and now sales director. The experience has allowed me to study this niche market from several different perspectives. I would also like to mention that prior to joining Converge I was in charge of procurement with a local PC maker in China.

Q: What services does Converge offer in your region?

A: As a global company, we offer the same shortage, surplus and quality management services to all APAC clients as we do in EMEA and the Americas. We not only help our customers source those hard-to-find, end-of-life (EOL) and NPI parts to keep their production lines running smoothly, but we also provide custom-built solutions to assist in the disposal of their surplus materials. We do all this through our Converge platform and with our quality inspection process providing customers peace of mind.

Q: How does the APAC market differ (if at all) from the rest of the world? Do you focus more on any specific services or technologies?

A: Yes, the APAC market does differ a bit, mainly because it encompasses many countries with different cultures, languages and business etiquettes. Converge is able to address these differences through seven regional offices with local staff available to prospect and serve customers every day. Another difference is that Asian customers not only tend to be more sensitive to pricing, but they are also typically well educated about the electronics market.

Converge is at a great advantage to be able to source with our established presence in APAC. Our strong commitment to quality allows us to offer the same services and technologies worldwide.

Q: What else should our readers know about Converge? How can they learn more about our services in APAC?

A: The electronics industry is a fast-paced, growing and constantly changing market. APAC electronics companies are facing shortages and surplus concerns every day. Converge APAC is a leading independent distributor with the ability to provide customers one-stop total solutions, such as EOL and NPI sourcing, mass production shortage sourcing, and surplus inventory recovery solutions.

With a global footprint and an integrated worldwide network, Converge’s sourcing radar covers every corner of the globe, providing 24/7 seamless support.

Furthermore, Converge fully understands how important quality is to the customers and the supply chain. All the electronic products shipped by Converge must go through a stringent quality assurance procedure complete with on-site multi-point inspections.

Q: Anything else you would like to share? Tell us about your family, favorite hobbies, etc.

A: I am happily married, with a lovely daughter. I enjoy reading, watching movies and playing badminton in my leisure time. After moving to Singapore, I started jogging not only for the exercise but also because it allowed me to make so many new friends.

Thanks, Eric!

If you would like to talk to Eric about how Converge can help your company in APAC or to get some pointers in badminton, feel free to contact him at eric.wu@converge.com.

March 13, 2013

New Converge Podcast: Protecting Customers Through Quality Management

How does Converge protect its customers from receiving substandard components? That’s the topic of discussion in a new podcast titled “Protecting Customers Through Quality Management” which is now available on the Converge website.

All of our customers are secure in knowing that partnering with Converge for their electronic component needs provide them peace of mind. But, how exactly does Converge provide that assurance?

In this new podcast, we will be talking with our quality experts Ron Wiggins and Dwight Gerardi about why it’s so important to partner with an independent distributor that has an established quality inspection program, some of the risks involved when you don’t, and you’ll even get a glimpse on how the quality management program actually works at Converge. Ron and Dwight will discuss their roles at Converge as well as our commitment to quality improvement and the type of equipment used.

They will also answer questions about what goes into our step-by-step inspection process and what happens if a discrepancy is found in a component. Protecting our customers and the supply chain from substandard parts is something we strive for every day and in every single transaction. It’s what we’ve built our reputation on and sets us apart from the competition.

To learn more about how our quality management process helps protect our customers and the supply chain listen to “Protecting Customers Through Quality Management”.

March 1, 2013

Global Converge Leaders in APAC: Meet Cannie Kok

In our continuing blog series we introduce you to Converge’s Global Business Leaders in the APAC region.

Meet Cannie Kok, Our Global Converge Leader in APAC




Q: Tell us a little about your role at Converge. Is there something that you specialize in for the company?


A: My title is Director of APAC Commodity & Purchasing at Converge, which is where my expertise lies. My responsibilities include managing and supporting a team of five commodity managers who handle all the purchasing and commodities in the APAC region. The commodity managers are divided up by different product groups-GEN IC, MEMORY, CPU, and technology products.

Our commodity management team utilizes industry experience and intelligence to locate and procure electronic components from sources throughout Asia in order to support our global sales team.

Q: What region do you primarily serve?

A: I primarily serve the APAC region, but I also work globally with our Amsterdam (EMEA) and Peabody (Americas) headquarters.

Q: How long have you been with Converge?

A: I am pleased to say that I have been working for Converge since 2003, so close to 10 years.

Q: Tell us a little about your background. What career path led you to Converge?

A: All my special training comes from past work experience in various industries. I have over 20 years of experience in planning and purchasing in the electronics industry for original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers, and franchised and independent distributors.

Prior to my career at Converge, I worked for several multinational companies such as Conner Peripherals (acquired by Seagate), Maxtor Peripherals (acquired by Seagate), NatSteel Electronics (acquired by Solectron), and Avnet, Inc.

Q: What services does Converge offer in your region?

A: Converge is a global company, so we are able to offer the same full suite of services as we do in our Americas and EMEA regions: procurement of parts for shortages, surplus inventory management, and an industry-leading quality management program.

Q: How does the APAC market differ (if at all) from the rest of the world?

A: I believe that there are some differences. I think the main differences between the APAC market and the rest of the world is our culture and the fact that Asia has been known to manufacture some of their own product brands at times.

There are also more languages and varying country regulations in the APAC region which we need to be well versed in to conduct business appropriately. This means that each transaction has to be handled differently to meet specific customer requirements and adhere to local laws and regulations.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share/brag about that readers might not know?

A: I would like our readers to know that Converge has established relationships with reliable suppliers globally, especially in Asia, and that our rigorous quality inspection process enables us to provide the best quality products in the least amount of time 24/7. And because of the concerns regarding suspect parts entering the supply chain, we need to be extremely careful whom we acquire supply from.

That is why our dedication to continual quality improvement and our vendor management program are key in helping reduce the risks of suspect products entering the supply chain, especially during a shortage market. Moreover, our vendor management program allows us to continuously monitor and carefully screen all our suppliers, providing our customers peace of mind.

Q: Anything else you would like to share? Tell us about your family, favorite hobbies, etc.


A: I am happily married with three loving children. I am blessed to have my family’s support despite my heavy commitment at work. I am passionate in learning about new technology products. I love shopping, traveling to different places, and experiencing and learning about various cultures. I also dabble a little in interior design.

Thanks, Cannie!

If you would like to talk to Cannie and learn more about how Converge can help your company in APAC, please feel free to contact her directly at cannie.kok@converge.com or visit the Converge website for our full list of services and global office locations.

January 30, 2013

Global Converge Leaders in EMEA: Meet Bobby Ireland

In this blog, we continue our ongoing series introducing you to the key Converge global business leaders.

Meet Bobby Ireland, Director of Global Business Trade Operations

 
Q: Tell us a little about your responsibilities at Converge and how long you have worked here.


A: I have been with Converge for about ten years. I am responsible for the overall coordination of global strategic accounts, business operational reporting, programs and processes as well as a number of corporate and regional support areas such as Global Account Management. As a former EMS guy I am able to bring a lot of structure into what I do for Converge, ensuring we can track, report and take advantage of key impact areas.

Q: What region do you primarily serve?

A: I am based in the United Kingdom, so my main role is within EMEA, but I am also responsible for a majority of corporate and global activities with global accounts and my colleagues in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Q: Tell us a little more about your background and what career path led you to Converge.

A: After graduating from the University of Abertay in Dundee, I immediately went to work for Solectron, which at the time was the world’s largest EMS. They just happened to have a huge site in my home town of Dunfermline, Scotland. During the six years I worked at Solectron, I did some work with Converge for the materials group. A few months later I joined the organization.

Q: What services does Converge offer in your region?

A: Since Converge is a global company, we have all of the same service offerings in EMEA as we do in the Americas and APAC. So anywhere the customer is located, we can provide shortage, excess, and obsolete inventory solutions, all backed with an industry-leading quality assurance program.

Q: Do you focus more on any specific services or technologies?

A: My focus is in three main areas. First, I coordinate and help manage the corporate relationships for global strategic accounts in the region. My involvement depends upon the level of business and their footprint. For these customers, I support contract discussions, attend quarterly business reviews and manage and monitor performance and trends.

The second area of focus within the same strategic business is global responsibility for several accounts — I serve as the main contact to our parent company for their global business.

The third area is business operations reporting and tracking, which we use extensively in EMEA and globally to manage our overall business. This area includes metrics reporting, commodity focus, vertical tracking, regional trends and penetration, etc.

Q: How does the EMEA market differ (if at all) from the Americas?

A: I see Europe as much more of a melting pot, with many differing cultures, languages and areas that need to be considered.

Take, for example, the Israeli and German markets. Converge needs to have offices in these regions to fully serve these markets. And within these offices we need the right people with the right skill sets and relationships who have the ability to help us develop the market.

Europe also has very defined markets — the United Kingdom has a very small to medium-sized business centered mainly around high-margin verticals such as Medical, Military and Automotive.

Central Europe (now moving into Ukraine/Russia) is considered to be the lower-cost region, holding most of the medium to high volume in Europe.

Germany and the Nordic countries have a large base in Computers, Telecommunications and Embedded accounts. These points, factored with the cultural and language diversity, make the EMEA market challenging.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share or brag about that readers might not know?

A: I would like to reiterate Johan Dahl’s comments from his recent blog interview: Our quality assurance program is what differentiates us most from the competition. We have made, and plan to make, further investments into our integrated systems and quality-testing equipment. And our dedication to continual improvement won’t stop there, as we strive for higher levels of certifications to capture a larger base of high-reliability customers.

Our customers can see for themselves that, in comparison to the rest of the market, Converge can back up their quality standards, while others only talk about it.…..

Q: How can readers learn more about Converge services in EMEA?

A: We have a great footprint in EMEA, with plans to expand further. Our goal is to service the primary markets in EMEA, with Converge regional offices or personnel close to the physical locations of our customers.

I would encourage any customers to discuss any aspect of the market with us, to gain a better understanding of what we can do to support them.

The “broker” market is not what it once was — we are now a long-standing independent distributor and strategic partner to our customers.

Q: Anything else you would like to share? Tell us about your family, favorite hobbies, etc.

A: I am married. I met my wife, Jennifer, during my time at Solectron and we have our young son, who keeps us more than busy. The less said about my local and national football teams the better, although my colleagues in Peabody, Massachusetts, might just convert me to be a New England Patriots and Boston Bruins fan if things keep going as they are.


Thanks, Bobby!

If you would like to talk to Bobby about how Converge can help your company (or would like to discuss hockey and football), you can contact him at bobby.ireland@converge.com.

January 16, 2013

2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey Results Reflect Positive Feedback

A few months ago, Converge conducted its annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, which many of you, our customers, received. For those who participated, we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide us with valuable feedback. Your comments and suggestions allow us not only to measure our processes but also to improve on our performance and services as an independent distributor.

It’s no secret that the majority of our customers rely primarily on franchise/authorized distributors for their supply chain needs, but like everything else, the market has its ups and downs — and that’s when Converge steps in with our market intelligence and global logistics. As an established independent distributor, we are able to source electronic components from reputable vendors around the globe as well help you recover value from your inventory in times of excess.

No wonder our customers ranked “ability to locate product” as the number one motivating reason to partner with Converge. And why a majority of our customers said they would continue to partner with us for their component shortages needs first and surplus inventory second.

In addition, our customers indicated they were satisfied with Converge’s overall performance, our knowledge of product(s), and their sales experience with us. But most importantly, they were pleased with the level of quality we provide making our quality inspection process still the most important factor when choosing to partner with Converge.

So we asked our customers more specifically about our quality inspection process, and once again the feedback was very positive: The quality of product, whether customer requirements were met, accuracy of orders, and communication/reporting were overwhelmingly better than or as expected.

Even though Converge continues to receive praise for our market expertise, sales process, and quality management programs, we are still of a firm belief that there is always room for improvement.

And as pleased as we are with the results from the survey, we will always be committed to the continual improvement of our processes and services year after year. No distributor is perfect, but that being said…we will be looking into areas where we can not only excel, but also offer our customers additional value-added benefits.

For more information on the Converge’s suite of services, visit our website.

January 3, 2013

Converge Implements 5S to Optimize Quality and Efficiency

If you’ve read the Converge blog before or have ever been to our website, then you probably already know that quality is a big deal to us. In fact, it is one of the key tenets of who we are as an organization. We help electronics manufacturers and service providers solve shortage and excess inventory problems, AND we do it with a component quality assurance process that is second to none. Every order we buy or sell must come to a Converge facility for a thorough quality inspection and, if needed, advanced in-house testing services such as X-ray and decapsulation. So it is extremely important to us that our warehouses – where all receiving, inspection, testing, and shipping activities occur – operate as safely and efficiently as possible. 

That is why we are excited to tell you that Converge adopted the “5S” workplace organization method earlier this year. The 5S method, closely tied to Lean Six Sigma and popularized by the Japanese automotive industry, enables a company not only to optimize a workspace for efficiency but also to put a culture into place that sustains these improvements. The name stems from the fact that the five primary phases all start with “S”: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain. Starting in June 2012, our warehouse teams began to seriously evaluate their work spaces and list opportunities for improvement in each of these areas. We asked ourselves questions like “Where should tools be stored in order to make sure they are in the right place at the right time?” and “How can we arrange the equipment in this workspace to reduce the number of steps needed to accomplish a task?” Did we feel we had strong processes in place before? Yes. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t room to make them even stronger. 

Six months later, we are proud of what we have accomplished so far. If you were to walk through our warehouses, you would see our 5S scorecards posted in each work area. Scoring of the identified action items is done on a weekly basis by our internal audit team. Each week, these auditors identify new opportunities for improvement, which are discussed and delegated at team meetings. We have found that even little tweaks and changes are translating into significant efficiency improvements in hours and throughput. In addition, the 5S method has created a culture in which our employees are always looking for ways to improve rather than slipping into complacency. With improved efficiency and a heightened culture of awareness, we feel more confident than ever that we can provide Converge customers with a counterfeit detection program that provides them not only with the parts they need but also with peace of mind. 

If you would like to see our 5S process in action, we would be happy to give you a tour of one of our facilities – and show you our testing and inspection process while we’re at it. Just drop us a line to start the conversation.