What is the current situation regarding electronic product design?

When designing a new product, a new PCBA, electronic engineers first need to select components. What tools do they use?

Search in ERP database

ERP provides access to an up-to-date database since it’s used for production. Prices listed are available prices. Unfortunately, search tools in ERPs are often not really convenient for such usage, and the part description is often not detailed enough. Searching by MPN could be an interesting approach but it’s often not available, or it is incorrect. Also, the R&D team usually doesn’t have access to the ERP.

Search in eCAD

eCAD is obviously a very appropriate environment, but the issue here is database maintenance. How can one obtain the information that components are already active in the company? To the usual way is to synchronize the eCAD database with the ERP, which requires for the ERP to contain the appropriate fields to store components’ information. It also requires for someone to actually take the time to set this up!

Search in major vendor website

This is the most popular solution! However, it takes time to search and collect all necessary data. You end up with a BOM containing approximate descriptions for most of the components and for some MPNs or SKUs. Plus, it all requires manual entry in an Excel spreadsheet.

BOM Check, recommendation, design modification

At the end of the design stage, the R&D engineer will ask the purchasing team or the EMS contractor, to quote the BOM for prototype manufacturing purposes. This is where the headaches will start! First, looking for real components based on vague descriptions, taking advantage of the few MPNs provided all this to finally realize that some components are obsolete, have no inventory or require large MOQs!

Some component modifications may be required, deriving in design modification, and delays to the project schedule.

Prototype manufacturing

After design adjustment, quotation update by EMS or purchasing will take additional time. If components have a long lead-time, this will also delay the project schedule. Time to market will be postponed further.

Product Long Development leadtime

Quest for the holy grail

Having an appropriate sourcing tool to centralize component data, check parts lifecycle status, inventory and collect prices will drastically change the game. It would allow you to avoid multiple loops at design stage, anticipate long lead-time component procurement, streamline data exchange within R&D, purchasing and with EMS contractors. It all amounts to a major improvement of the process, in order to better control time to market and product cost.

Short Product Development leadtime