The Internet of Things (IoT) is happening right now, but in order to prepare for what’s ahead, businesses need to be aware of the opportunities, challenges and impacts of IoT prior to the start of this tech revolution. Paul Bentley, managing director, GD Rectifiers, talks about how this might affect distributors and what they need to be aware of in the coming months
IoT will have a massive impact on the manufacturing industry; businesses will benefit from a more efficient inventory management system, products will be easier to package and track, and the likelihood of human errors will diminish. Businesses will have access to more data and metrics on consumer buying behaviours, including order patterns, buying power and lead time expectations.
Most industries are likely to change over the next four years when IoT becomes mainstream; the manufacturing industry will be one of the first to adopt the changes. My advice to all electronic component distributors would be to see how IoT develops before committing to change, monitor how OEMs adapt and identify the alterations that will improve the efficiency of your business and implement them slowly, always be prepared to revert back to old practices is it doesn’t work.
IoT is already being used across manufacturing, distribution and logistics to carry out tasks such as sending an alert when factory equipment needs maintenance, track the speed and safety of machines and monitor the environmental condition of products during shipment.
Soon, IoT will influence what distributors sell, and OEMs and distributors will be able to react much more quickly to produce developments and additional stock quantities, reducing customers’ lead times. IoT will also impact the new component designs driven forward which will in turn affect future technology and consumer buying trends for the foreseeable future. Although it’s still in its infancy, distributors need to be ready for how the technology will start to impact their business. The future is fast becoming the present and we ned to react to it.
Reasons to use distributors in 2017
Today, with increasing pressure on time-to-market, design engineers don’t have the time to spend with multiple FAEs like they did 20 years ago. Open source hardware and software has freed design engineers from being limited to a few suppliers. Instead, multiple technologies and approaches can be evaluated using cost effective and simple-to-use development kits and tools, often supplied by a third party partner to a device maker. Whilst the structure of design engineering has positively changed, the engineers require a different type of support.
With their focus on design engineering, distributors work hard to understand client needs and have endless access to products around the globe from the world’s leading manufacturers, making them the preferred method to buying electronic components.
There are many reasons why having a distributor can make life easier for design engineers. One reason is that they are able to buy components in bulk and secure the best possible pricing from manufacturers, and in most cases they receive supported pricing on the product range if they are an official distributor. They also have good relationships with product and inventory teams to ensure they have access to the full product range, including upcoming product launches and they can get the best prices and lead times for them. Distributors tend to hold a large range of everyday components in stock so that they can pull orders from their shelves quickly enabling the customer to have a next day delivery option.
Engineers can also use distributors as a knowledge centre. They need distributors that provide devices and the design ecosystem including tools, dev kits and modules required to implement solutions. Engineers also need distributors that can provide the knowledge and sometimes the inspiration that will help them find the best approach, the best technology and the best price. GD Rectifiers works closely with engineers, buyers and purchasers to share their knowledge and experience within the industry, they offer technical advice 24/7 and can build customised designs to meet specific requirements.
As mentioned earlier, distributors stock and have access to a wide range of products from the world’s largest manufacturers. Often referred to as a ‘one stop shop’, ordering is easy, time and cost efficient and it speeds up the products’ time-to-market.
As well as being a ‘one stop shop’, distributors offer a personalised experience to their clients by offering product suggestions, alternatives for obsolete parts or higher efficiency parts to increase performance. Most distributors will also allow customers to have a call-off order meaning that the distributor will hold stock over a certain period of time so that the client can take the products in smaller drops. They will then remind clients that their call-off order is running low so they know when to top up and when they can buy their products at the best price.
Acting as the middleman for engineers, buyers and purchasers, they are tasked with sourcing the products at the best prices with the fastest lead time which allows buyers to focus on other elements of their role. Distributors maintain constant communication with OEMs and work closely with clients to keep them informed of any progress.
Distributors can also provide purchasing solutions to the industry. They can design custom solutions, offer technical advice on projects and they can offer more suitable parts within budget. They can act as a personal shopper getting the best possible price and providing guidance and support every step of the way.
GD Rectifiers are the UK’s leading distributor of power electronic components. They are also global manufacturers of custom designed heatsinks, power assemblies, capacitors and rectifiers. They work with some of the globes most well-known OEMs and distribute semiconductors for the world’s leading manufacturers, including IXYS, Westcode and SEMIKRON.