Smith was featured in the latest issue of Electronics Sourcing North America in an article that discusses the evolving semiconductor market and key sourcing strategies for buyers. The article quotes Smith’s Vice President of Business Development, Todd Burke, who describes key elements of semiconductor technology and important factors to consider when sourcing.
Q: What should be on a purchasing professional’s shopping list to ensure they buy the correct semiconductor products?
Before sourcing components, purchasers need to ensure that their supplier base is qualified and has been rated via a documented, internal rating system. Suppliers should go through a formal selection process based on specific quality requirements and have the appropriate ISO certifications. Once they’ve been onboarded, key performance indicators such as on-time delivery rates and other quality performance metrics should be top of the list when choosing suppliers.
Regardless of whether a supplier has already been vetted or not, be sure that it can provide detailed pictures, if needed, and traceable lot codes as required. Standard details like manufacturer and manufacturer part number, date code restrictions, and any approved alternates are a starting point when sourcing semiconductor products. Other factors, such as country of origin, may also come into play. Certified quality assurance should be a priority for every purchasing professional to ensure that the correct product is sourced and to safeguard product authenticity.
Q: What semiconductor-related products are available in the electronics supply chain?
Semiconductors encompass all types of board-level components. Smith distributes virtually every type of semiconductor and integrated circuit, from commodity items like processors and memory to the smallest components, such as multi-level ceramic capacitors. Right now, CPUs are in especially high demand in the personal computing and server markets. MLCCs are utilized across an array of industries and in every connected product.
Q: What are lead times like for semiconductor products in the Americas?
Most single-die semiconductor products take four to eight weeks, but American OEMs and contract manufacturers can expect a variety of lead times depending on the products they are sourcing, which will vary from one manufacturer to another. The brand and volume needed could move the lead-time up or down. Market conditions also influence standard lead times and shortages can add weeks or months to the delivery time of any item. For instance, average lead times for some MLCCs are at 36 to 46-weeks plus, and some power MOSFETs are in the 29-weeks plus range. When sourcing from an independent distributor like Smith, lead times can be greatly reduced, and, in some cases, cut entirely, due to the variety of sourcing channels available throughout the open market. If you’re working within a certain timeframe, your procurement specialist can help determine which components will fit your specific needs.
Q: How have semiconductor products advanced over the last few years?
Most semiconductors are adapting and advancing at the same rates as the products they support. Over the past few years, we’ve seen more multichip packages and application-specific integrated circuits being developed to cater to new or niche end products. Specifically, more DRAM, CPU, and microprocessor manufacturers are integrating different ICs into a single-chip format. Ultimately, this saves room on the board so consumer products like cellphones can be made thinner and smaller.
Q: Why is there so much packaging when semiconductors are delivered?
The number one reason there is a lot of packaging for semiconductors is to ensure the safety and quality of the product during every step of shipping, handling, and storage. Whether semiconductors are shipped locally or across the globe, parts must be packaged so that they’re protected from electrostatic discharge and moisture. Regarding the buildup of empty reels, manufacturers do not want to reuse them because of their potential to sustain damage after multiple uses. The various labels on the reels are also unique to the product, so removing or replacing them would be inefficient and could cause unclear traceability. Instead of reusing the reels to hold other products, many manufacturers have simply opted to recycle them for the plastic.
Q:What can we expect from semiconductor technology in the future, and what benefits will this provide purchasing professionals?
Multichip packages will continue to rise in component design and manufacturer popularity. As more and more legacy parts go obsolete, causing PCBs to get redesigned, fewer chips will need to be sourced. Fewer components will be required for boards since the products they support are trending smaller. Instead, many ICs will be packaged with central processing units and microprocessors. While the product and component specifications might become more detailed and stringent, purchasing professionals will benefit by having a shorter sourcing list.
Contact your Smith sales representative or request a quote here to find the parts you need today.