December 23, 2014

Home for the Holidays with Arrow

For many, the holidays evoke a special warmth, especially when families make that extra effort to come together to share experiences, remember their family ties and strengthen that bond.

For us at Converge, this year finds us closer to our Arrow family, with Arrow colleagues now sharing our Peabody facility and holiday spirit. A huge part of what makes us a “happy family” is our shared commitment to quality and our customers.

Our quality practices, certifications and affiliations work together to ensure our customers have the availability of quality products and services on which they rely. Converge continues to play a critical role in supply chain security for the electronics industry and provides a vital contribution to Arrow’s vision of Five Years Out.

Our belief is that the electronics industry is truly a global opportunity with endless possibilities. Combining Arrow’s global presence with Converge’s strategic locations means that together we’re able to service our customers wherever they are or wherever they need us.

Like Arrow’s Sam Car and the Arrow Value Recovery business’s DigiTruck, Converge works to give back to the community. For more than 15 years Converge has been working with Project Uplift, helping local North Shore Boston families in need. It’s just one more way we share Arrow core values. It’s really great to be part of a family that’s committed both to doing well and to doing good for others.

Happy holidays to everyone from us at Converge, a happy member of the Arrow family.

November 20, 2014

What's Q360 Quality? And Why Now?

In previous blogs, we have discussed concerns about substandard components in the supply chain, but when the President of the United States signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), all suppliers took notice.

Signed in 2013, the NDAA addresses many global and national defense issues as well as counterfeit components in the supply chain. In the NDAA, there is reference to revising and enforcing current protocols and developing stronger regulations requiring component suppliers to implement safeguards and demonstrate a system to help detect and avoid having suspected counterfeit parts enter the supply chain.

In addition, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has also recently announced a strong, concerted effort to fight counterfeits by funding research into other types of authentication technology due to the increased risks found in the high reliability industry. Millions of dollars can be lost if these products are not battle or emergency ready due to the possibility of faulty or substandard parts.

Counterfeiting has been big business for years, and it extends way beyond just electronic components and causes a domino effect. We’re talking billions of dollars every year and an impact on just about any consumer product on the market. Customers go to their local retailers and expect that when they buy a product they are buying something safe, reliable, authentic and of the highest quality. Inversely, manufacturers expect that the parts procured to build their products are authentic as well.

So, yes … having quality safeguards in place is a must for any reputable independent distributor and/or supplier if they want to continue doing business with manufacturers. But now that the U.S. government is becoming more actively involved in enforcing safeguards and requirements to protect the supply chain, distributors and suppliers will be more accountable for substandard/suspected counterfeits parts entering the supply chain − specifically in the aerospace and defense industries, where the risks are so much greater.

At Converge, quality has been an integral part of our organization since the first substandard parts were identified. Our Q360 Quality program is a commitment not only to continuous improvement but also to our customers and to the supply chain. Because we supply components all over the world to so many different industries, we believe in surpassing industry standards and providing the highest-quality components to our customers while protecting the supply chain.

The long-standing relationships Converge has established with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and contract manufacturers (CMs) are a direct result of their trust in the safeguards in place that are part of our standard quality practice. This includes our vendor approval process, industry affiliations and certifications, extensive training and certification of our components engineers, rigorous quality inspection process, and state-of-the-art in-house equipment as well as on-spec and on-time deliveries, which are all part of our all-encompassing Q360 Quality management program.

To find out more about our Q360 Quality program and our work in the high reliability industry, contact us.

September 17, 2014

Electronica is Celebrating 50 Years!

Congratulations to electronica on this golden anniversary – 50 years of success and still going! So don’t miss it -- register for electronica 2014 now and start packing your bags!

Converge is so excited and honored to be a part of history and electronica 2014 that we have been making preparations for this global electronics trade fair for over a year. electronica 2014, which takes place in Münich, Germany, November 11-14, is considered one of the world’s most important trade shows for the electronics industry. It essentially covers just about everything from components and systems to applications and services.

We are looking forward to learning from and exchanging ideologies with a variety of manufacturers, suppliers, and so many of our customers that we couldn’t imagine missing this event. Come visit us at Hall A4, Booth #127. Converge will have representatives available from our international locations and European headquarters to discuss ways to help your company solve your obsolete, hard-to-find, and surplus inventory component needs.

We pride ourselves on strict and rigorous quality standards by adhering to the industry’s best practices on counterfeit detection through our quality management program. Our representatives will be on hand to discuss our continuous commitment to improvement, providing the highest quality products, and the zero-tolerance policies that we have had in place for over 30 years.

If you are still not sure whether you will attend this year’s most important electronics trade fair, here are some interesting facts about electronica that might sway your decision:

  • electronica has been successfully introducing customers and suppliers in the electronics industry for 50 years, helping them establish strong relationships.
  • electronica 2014 is expecting more than 73,000 trade visitors and 2,600 international exhibitors, not to mention the extensive media coverage and presence.
  • Eighty-nine percent of all electronica visitors are decision makers, 47 percent are in management positions, and 29 percent are top key decision makers.
  • The industries represented by the exhibitors and attendees vary widely and include industrial and consumer electronics, telecommunications, and military/aerospace, along with many others.
  • Foreign visitors attending the trade fair represent approximately 78 countries.
Contact us today to arrange a time to meet with our Converge representatives at electronica 2014.

We look forward to seeing you in Münich this November! You can find us in Hall A4, Booth #127

Source: http://www.electronica.de

August 12, 2014

Customer Service in Operations? Converge in APAC

Great customer service can come from many different areas of a business. For a company to stay ahead of the competition and keep customers coming back, it becomes critical to deliver on a customer’s expectation the very first time. This can be a challenge for an independent distributor, especially when there could be increased demand due to new technology, supplier/production shutdowns, or seasonal demands. Supplier lead times, numbers of orders, and special customer requests can have a substantial impact on meeting delivery expectations and overall customer service.

Yes, it is true that customer service starts with a knowledgeable and experienced salesperson managing a sale, but it’s up to the operations team consisting of quality, logistics, and compliance to really complete that sale by making sure that the right product gets into the right hands by the right time. Simple, right?

One crucial area where customer expectations are either met or not met is operations. However, the actual operations function that processes orders happens behind the scenes in a warehouse and is typically not visible to a customer.

In theory, operations should be a simple and seamless process, but this is where so many organizations fall short. Having a consistent and structured system in place with an experienced team globally is the first step to delivering a perfect order, which is what every organization strives to do.

In our continued quest for the perfect order, we at Converge have adopted the 5S method in all of our corporate facilities (warehouses) worldwide, which we have mentioned in some of our previous blog posts. This allows us to measure our processes and continue making improvements internally to increase efficiency. That efficiency essentially is passed on to our customers. In addition, we follow an all-encompassing rigorous quality management process with highly trained, on-the-job staff and engineers certified through the IDEA-ICE 3000 standard globally.

For example, in our APAC facilities the operations team, although globally trained in quality control/inspections, and in 5S for efficiency, is more regionally focused. They handle the day-to-day incoming/outgoing inspections, compliance, and shipments for electronic components sourced and any surplus inventoried through our facilities in that part of the world.

Our warehouse operations team in APAC consists of a senior manager for logistics and trade compliance overseeing our Singapore and Hong Kong facilities. Directly reporting to the APAC senior manager is a warehouse manager, an operations manager, the senior global BS team lead (Bangalore), and a supervisor of order management/business support. This experienced team is essentially responsible for ensuring that customers consistently receive the highest-quality components “on spec and on time” throughout Asia.

So no matter which one of our corporate warehouse facilities processes an order, our customers can have peace of mind knowing that the components that they are receiving have been inspected and shipped according to our efficiently established network and global processes.

For more information about Converge, drop us a line at info@converge.com.

June 5, 2014

Five Reasons to Partner with Converge in EMEA

Over the past 15 years, EMEA has quickly become one of the more important innovative technology centers outside the United States. Converge, seeing what an impact the European market was having worldwide, became one of the first independent distributors to establish a European-based network of offices in this important region. 

Fast-forward to today, Converge now has a wide network of offices from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, and many places in between, which has allowed us to capitalize on emerging/expanding markets and stay competitive while meeting the demands of customers regionally.

Although most business is conducted in cyberspace these days, European customers still prefer the personalized approach and convenience of local access. Independent distributors need to be willing to invest heavily in a global footprint to maintain a strong presence in the electronic components distribution supply chain and continue nurturing these important relationships.

So here are five good reasons why you should partner with Converge in EMEA:

  1. We have a seasoned management team in an already strong and growing region. Our management structure includes individuals who have been with the company for more than 10 years since our establishment in EMEA, bringing decades of industry-related experience.
  2. We are committed to our customers and resolving their supply chain pains. To tackle this we have developed a wide range of customizable services for procurement and excess inventory. Our core belief is that no customer is the same; therefore, neither are their supply chain needs.
  3. We have a team of regional commodity managers who are experts in helping find value for our customers in the market.
  4. We have account management teams strategically positioned throughout the region and in close proximity to densely populated industrial areas to strengthen established relationships with key customers.
  5. Our global network and operations provides secure, consistent support that helps us meet the service requirements of customers in a timely fashion, which can be especially critical in high-reliability sectors.
A recent addition to our strong EMEA presence is our new office in London, England, further strengthening our support to customers in this important region while continuing to expand our global footprint. Although Converge has had a presence in this area for some time, the management team felt another regional office in the United Kingdom would allow us the opportunity to service more accounts better, whether small, medium or large.

If you are currently in the EMEA region or are looking for a supply chain partner in this growing market, contact us.

May 8, 2014

Customers Are Still Talking About Converge...

In a previous blog post, we discussed customer responses to some of the questions asked during our annual customer satisfaction survey. In this blog post we dig a little deeper into what our customers are saying about Converge and how invaluable their feedback is to us.

A customer satisfaction survey is an important tool we utilize in listening to the voice of our customers, because it covers many aspects of our business and focuses on customers’ experiences throughout the entire sales process (from initial contact to quote to product delivery).


Breaking the survey into four key areas helps us understand our customers’ feedback better:

And in these areas, the results of our survey showed:
  • Customers who partnered with Converge overwhelmingly did so because of our market expertise and brand recognition.
  • The majority of customers surveyed were motivated to partner with Converge because of our uncanny ability to locate product. 
  • A full 97% of our customers also said they would recommend Converge to a colleague.
  • Customers felt secure about our ability to procure a wide range of quality electronic components globally because of screened/approved vendors
  • Customers responded that they care about our above-industry-standard certifications that drive and enhance our rigorous quality inspection process.
  • Respondents look favorably upon our measured track record for timely delivery and quality products. 
Receiving positive feedback in these areas is certainly music to our ears, but we know there is always room for improvement. Being a leader in the electronic components distribution industry doesn’t come easy, but we’ve been working hard for over 30 years to perfect it.
 

And because listening to the voices of our customers and fulfilling their shortage or surplus needs comes first, we will continue to conduct annual surveys and maintain ongoing, open communication with all our customers.

We encourage you to provide us with additional feedback on your individual Converge experience; email us directly at info@converge.com.

March 13, 2014

What Are Customers Saying About Converge?

As part of our continuous improvement efforts, Converge annually conducts a customer satisfaction survey to listen to the voice of our customers and learn what people are saying about us. This valuable information helps us improve not only all areas of our operations and sales, but also our quality inspection and validation programs.

Our blog readers recognize, from our previous blog posts on the adoption of 5S, a hosted Kaizen event, and our quality inspection process, that we are truly committed to providing our customers with the best products and services in the industry and to making their experience with us unparalleled.

It’s always great to receive positive feedback from our customers, but it’s equally important (if not more so) to learn of new areas where we can improve.

So, exactly what are our customers are saying?

  • An overwhelming number said they were satisfied or very satisfied with our performance as an independent distributor and they had an overall positive experience with us.
  • Customers continue to use Converge primarily because of our global sourcing capabilities for their shortage and obsolescence needs.
  • More customers are utilizing services in the hi-reliability markets (Aerospace, Military, and Medical).
  • The most important factors in partnering with us remain our timely delivery, our stringent quality, and our counterfeit detection processes.
Although we are pleased to learn that our customers continue to use us for our procurement capabilities and because of our commitment to quality, we know that it doesn’t end there.

Our goal is and has always been to provide the highest level of service. To accomplish this, we need to stay one-step ahead of the industry and competition by providing more value-added benefits to our customers and enhancements to our already established systems/networks.

As a leading independent distributor for over 30 years, we realize that improvements most often result in change, and change is not easy but certainly is a necessity in this ever-growing technology-driven market. Our customers are the ones who have kept us in the lead this long and helped us establish our reputation.

For those who participated in our survey this year and in years prior, we appreciate your time and valuable feedback. Your feedback will allow us to make improvements to our global reach/logistics, networked systems, vendor management, quality processes, and to expand on already standard benefits in our quest for continual improvement.

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

February 12, 2014

Is There Anyone Listening?

Converge is listening...is your independent distributor?

For over 33 years, Converge has been establishing strong relationships in the electronics components distribution marketplace. With thousands of customers worldwide, we provide the very best supply chain solutions, an accomplishment of which we are very proud.


But how have we been able to accomplish this at such a high level?

Because of our longevity and tenure in this industry, we not only have established market knowledge and experience in comparison to other independents, but we also have learned to ask the right questions. Most important, we really listen to our customers.

Customers are typically looking for product availability, quality, pricing, and timely delivery but not always in that order. Converge determines the customer’s greatest and/or most critical needs. Sometimes, however, what’s most important is not necessarily the customer’s needs but rather what that customer’s customer requires.

Keeping this in mind, our team is tasked with capturing as much information as possible about our customers – their processes, industries, products, and supply chains – to uncover what led them to us in the first place. It’s also important to identify any supply chain challenges, priorities, or market conditions that could be affecting their business.

Some common questions we may ask include:

  • What types of processes are you running?
  • Would an inventory program help in terms of supply assurance?
  • What are some supply chain strategies your team may be looking to incorporate?
Once we determine their exact needs, Converge can quickly align resources (sales team, global network, marketing intelligence, and integrated systems) and services (shortages, surplus management, and quality process) to help fulfill those needs. Our customers can feel secure knowing that the suite of services we offer is flexible and can be leveraged to find the very best solutions for their supply chain pains.

We understand every customer is different and there is no cookie-cutter solution. Companies typically have specific supply/demand sensitivities that have to be considered when choosing to work with a new supply partner. And although asking the right questions is essential, Converge has learned that really listening to our customers is what forms that trusted relationship and keeps them coming back.

For more detailed information regarding our suite of services, please drop us a line at info@converge.com or visit our website, www.converge.com.

January 17, 2014

Converge’s Kaizen Event Promotes Efficiency

In a blog posted last year, “Converge Implements 5S to Optimize Quality and Efficiency,” we talked about the implementation of the 5S method and how closely it is tied to Lean Six Sigma, which was popularized by the Japanese automotive industry.

Last month, Converge embarked on a journey to further re-evaluate our processes to optimize efficiencies in quality, time, and workspace by hosting a Kaizen event at our Peabody, Mass., facility.

Kaizen, which is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best,” is a concept utilized to help eliminate waste. It’s a philosophy or practice that typically focuses on the continuous improvement of processes, whether it is in manufacturing, engineering, or management. Kaizen events typically result in changes to activities that could continually improve all functions in the organization and apply to processes such as purchasing, compliance, and logistics while also crossing over into the supply chain to evaluate and measure for potential waste.

Converge’s Kaizen event was held in early December 2013, and it provided the team with an opportunity to evaluate and measure our current electronic component distribution methods and quality processes in order to identify additional opportunities for efficiency improvement.

Some of the questions we asked included:

  • How can we increase productivity in all stages of the quality inspection process?
  • How can we decrease processing time?
  • How can we create opportunities for business growth?
Although we have always had strong processes in place, we know that there is always room for improvement in efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction.

During this event, we identified that making one small adjustment, such as redesigning the layout of our warehouse operations (due to shifting business), would not only streamline our inbound/outbound quality and inspection processes but also afford us extra space in our warehouse for future business opportunities.

In the final testing stage after our redesign, we carefully measured and documented all the processes and operator activities during the inbound, quality inspection/testing, and outbound processes in order to support a more “lean” layout. The results were even better than we expected, with an overall reduction in processing time and a significant reduction in travel time during the process for the operators/engineers, not to mention the very positive feedback we received from our operators! It also improved our 5S scores, which is equally exciting.

As mentioned in our previous blog, the implementation of the 5S method and now the recent Kaizen event have created quite a stir in our corporate culture. Now more than ever, our employees feel empowered to continue finding ways to improve rather than be complacent with current procedures. The result is that our customers can be even more confident that the services and products we provide are in fact “just in time” and the “very best in class.”

It isn’t easy being lean, but Converge is committed to continual improvement, which allows us to stay ahead of the competition year after year.

To learn more about our Kaizen event or the 5S Method, just drop us a line to start the conversation.