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Electronic Components Traceability in 2020: 3 Things You Should Know

Quality assurance engineer dressed in personal protective equipment as he inspects a component; traceability is a serious issue in 2020, find out how Sourcengine's e-commerce marketplace can help.

In the post-coronavirus landscape, electronics manufacturers are facing a host of new supply chain challenges. The pandemic has made component sourcing more difficult by affecting availability and pricing on a global scale. As such, OEMs, ODMs, and EMS providers should make traceability an organizational priority.

In addition to satisfying global manufacturing standards, firms can increase productivity, cut costs, and improve outcomes by verifying the origin, application, and travel paths of their electronic components.

Digital Traceability Solutions Boost Productivity

For some companies, using a digital traceability solution may not seem necessary. In the current landscape, manufacturers might believe migrating their component tracking tasks to a dedicated software platform is a waste of time and money. But the truth is that modernizing this aspect of the procurement process can meaningfully improve organizational productivity.

For example, right now many OEMs view Microsoft Excel as an acceptable platform for their traceability matrix. A procurement specialist can use the program to keep the matrix current by recording supplier updates, identified issues, and test data. However, what happens if an engineering team preparing a new product proposal wants to access the database? Designers would end up wasting crucial development time on interdepartmental communications or trying to navigate an idiomatic notation system.

This problem is exacerbated when companies expand and launch individual divisions responsible for developing different products.

A digital traceability platform would eliminate this workflow chokepoint by giving all relevant parties access to the same information reservoir. Assembly Magazine notes that traceability systems can help manufacturers reduce work in progress times by up to 32 percent.

Traceability Helps Firms Avoid Counterfeit Electronic Components

Another benefit of prioritizing traceability is keeping counterfeit electronic components out of supply chains.

Although modern manufacturing has made sourcing easier and more affordable for OEMs, it has also created more space for fraudsters. Advances in automation have made it much easier for criminals to produce and distribute counterfeit goods.

OEMs looking to save money might consider purchasing large quantities of electronic components through e-commerce platforms that lack traceability features. However, conducting procurement through insecure online marketplaces means potentially spending money on defective, poorly made, or incorrectly labeled parts.

By acquiring materials from non-verified suppliers, companies bring significant uncertainty and instability into their production lines. As counterfeit components reportedly cost manufacturers $250 billion annually, firms cannot afford to roll the dice with procurement.

Thankfully, quality electronic components e-commerce marketplaces offer robust traceability support so companies can protect themselves from malicious sellers.

Traceability Protects Against Product Recalls

In manufacturing, component failures are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of doing business. Whether it is a material design flaw or an unseen problem in component operation, breakdowns happen and can be extremely costly. Because end-users want powered devices with multifaceted functionality, products are increasingly complex and circuit dense. Systemic failures leading to electronic product recalls are seemingly becoming prevalent as a result of that trend.

Without a proper traceability framework in place, OEMs increase their risk of having to make costly and reputation-damaging recalls.

When bad components enter the production line, they can prompt product failures that result in dead loss and, even worse, legal action. While there is no good time for a business to face lawsuits from aggrieved retail partners and consumers, current economic conditions make the prospect especially perilous. That is why companies should only work with electronic component distributors that value their business enough to practice rigorous supplier vetting and maintain strict inspection protocols.

There is no way to remove risk from electronics manufacturing, but firms can prepare themselves for success by prioritizing traceability.

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