Finding alternate electronic components

During the course of purchasing electronic components to fulfill a Bill of Material (BOM), it is possible to come across a requirement that cannot be sourced.  Either the component has been listed as obsolete by a manufacturer or has a significant lead-time which jeopardizes a PCBA project timeline.  Now what?  Numerous options exist to try to keep the PCBA timeline.  An evaluation of the situation can be accomplished by following some of these suggestions.

1.  For passive components, can a tighter tolerance or a higher voltage be a simple option?

2.  Can the component be crossed to another component the original manufacturer may have designed to be a supersession; such as an upgraded component with additional features, etc.?  Open and compare the datasheets to ensure the Form, Fit, and Function are similar enough to pursue consideration.  Often, the manufacturer will note the supersession and will outline the additional features on the newest datasheet.

3.  Can the component be crossed to a “like” component from a different manufacturer? 
·    The easiest source is the “like” component manufacturer themselves.  Search the manufacturer website for a Cross Reference page.  By entering in the original component, the Cross Reference may indicate a comparable component. 
·    Use an authorized distributor’s website to see if a suggested alternate is listed by doing a search for the original component part number.
·    Subscribe to an electronic component search authority.  Several online organizations exist which sell subscriptions to their services and have engineering approved alternates available.
·    Use an authorized distributor’s parameter search to locate potential alternates.  This is the most difficult of the search options, as the datasheet comparison must be thorough and approved by the original design engineer.  (Keep in mind that some component packages identified on datasheets may be manufacturer specific.  Always compare the footprints.)

4.  Can the component be found with an independent distributor?  If pursuing this option, proceed with caution but keep in mind that some OEM’s have discontinued or reduced the use of a component and have too much stock.  They need an outlet to move the excess inventory. 

When challenged with fulfilling BOM requirements issues will often occur.  Hopefully, you will find the ideas provided to address these issues helpful. 

Overcoming issues is a challenge the Project Coordinators at California Integration Coordinators, Inc. face and overcome daily.  We are professionals focused solely on electronic component procurement and kitting for the assembly process.

We are always seeking additional ideas for dealing with the challenges of sourcing electronic component for an upcoming PCB assembly projects.  Please share your ideas with us with an email to Cherie@cic-inc.com or calling (530) 626-6168. 

Definition of Kitting in a Printed Circuit Board Assembly application

What Items Can Be Kitted?

Kitting is commonly used for electronic and board hardware components prior to the assembly process for printed circuit boards.  All components are verified, documented for traceability, and labeled for the specific circuit board scheduled for pick and place.  The prepared customized kit is then shipped to the EMS (chosen assembly facility) as one unit.
Why choose a Kitting Service?

Ordering, handling, packaging, and storing components can be very time consuming and expensive.   Kitting services can reduce the handling costs at the point of use, minimizing storage space, while providing a cost-effective solution that ensures all needed parts are provided when they are needed.
Easier Procurement – With kitting, one purchase order takes the place of several purchase orders and there are far less SKUs to manage.  Ordering kits with a single part number instead of many individual items makes your purchasing and accounts payable departments more efficient.
Greater Control of Inventory – Kits reduce the amount of stock numbers to manage and improve the productivity of the Stockroom and Pre-assembly Auditing staff.
Improved Organization & Space Reduction – Kits make it much easier and more efficient to organize components.  Instead of pulling individual parts from multiple locations,  all necessary components are within one shipment along with a Kit List outlining the quantity provided, the media type all in Line Item order.  Kits also remove the possible mistakes by pulling from a stockroom.
Saving Time –  Shipping and receiving time is reduced because parts come in one kit versus multiple items that would otherwise have to be stocked individually.
Less Labor and Increased Savings – Pre-sorted kits save time and labor by ensuring all necessary components are available at the point of assembly.  If parts are not in Kit form,  there are many more steps involved to search through inventory, pull parts and log usage.  Plus, individually-managed parts can be difficult to locate, which triggers extra man-hours and delays in production.
Greater Efficiencies – Having all necessary parts readily available when needed makes your operation more efficient; it allows the customer to focus on what it does best (manufacturing) and allows the industrial distributor to do what they do best (supply chain management).

Interested in learning more about Kitting Services?  Please call Cherie at (530) 626-6168 or send a note to Cherie@cic-inc.com.  Additional information can be found at www.cic-inc.com.