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52 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2022 is is an opportunity to take data on the brokerage transactions to develop standard processes in which to engage with component brokers in a manner where trust and compo- nent pedigree can be established without a need for a lengthy, expensive, out-of-the-ordi- nary method. An adaptive material procure- ment process should allow for direct transac- tions between the component manufactur- ers, approved distributors, and component brokers without triggering a non-conforming material review. e design engineer's role in this corporate culture shi is to promote enterprise-level tools and processes that promote integrated product development, and to be more engaged with the procurement process. If a lack of com- ponent source information or tedious compo- nent sourcing processes are creating product development delays, write a corrective action against the process along with a suggested researched solution. Do not stay silent and quietly quit the problem. Small- to Medium-sized Business Small- to medium-sized businesses do not typically have the push behind them to directly affect supply chain behavior, which is why a focus on better management of the sup- ply chain situation may be more appropriate. Small/medium companies are not oen a top tier customer and are most oen delegated to interacting with approved suppliers such as Digi-Key, Mouser, Newark, and Arrow. My suggestion is designers should become familiar with services like Octopart and to get a feel for what's available on the market. Both services are free, show distributor infor- mation, and offer some amount of sourcing intelligence. Another strategy: Instead of build to print (seemingly impossible these days), use build to function. Communicate with your customers that you can build to function, in addition to build to print. is requires the design engineers to develop a product/solu- tion that is modular and able to be built in mul- tiple configurations. Yes, this takes more time up front. However, it is better than not being able to build anything. Entrepreneurs and Consultants Entrepreneurs and consultants oen find themselves beholden to the whims of the elec- tronics supply chain as it ebbs and flows. Our tools of trade are flexibility and experience coupled with creativity and tenacity. Most of our problems and solutions are centered around the here and now. Extended lead times mean that unviable, cancelled orders become a crisis situation, and delayed/missed revenue is directly felt. ese are some of the practices that have helped me and some of my colleagues overcome the current supply chain pain. One person's leover stock is another's prototype. Develop your network and get to know oth- ers in your area of expertise. is opens every- one's door to opportunities, solutions, and sharing. Stay focused on meeting your cus- tomer's needs vs. trying to sell them on some exciting new IC from Vendor X. Over the last year I have seen a lot of innovative, miniatur- ized power supply designs get replaced with 555 timer designs, due solely to component unavailability. Leverage advanced PCB fab- rication capabilities (blind/buried vias, laser routing) to ease the burden of using large foot- print technologies or use an all-flex design to reduce/eliminate interface connectors. In closing, designers are capable of design- ing through the current supply chain pain by leveraging corporate policy/procedures to modify supply chain behavior, designing build- to-function product capability, and staying focused on meeting customer needs. DESIGN007 Chris Young is owner/ lead engineer at Young Engineering Services LLC, and an I-Connect007 columnist. To read past columns, click here.

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