Digi-Key has unleashed an onslaught of new components onto its Bill of Materials (BoM) Manager tool. The Thief River Falls-based distributor now has one million components available.
“In February 2012 we had 623,000 components on our BoM tool,” said Dave Doherty, Vice President of Global Supplier and Product Operations. “Now we have a million, and that’s because even in challenging times Digi-Key will continue to invest. Where we can see opportunities we want our customers to have access to the latest technologies and components”.
The expansion of inventory is from existing suppliers and new lines that Digi-Key has added. “We work closely with existing suppliers to expand the portfolio, and we look to add innovative technology suppliers,” Doherty commented.
The distributor picks up intelligence from customers via its technical support team. “They tell us when a number of customers call to enquire about a specific technology or product,” explained Doherty. “Sometimes the customer points us towards a slow burn product from an existing supplier. We can go to the supplier and have the product available within a couple of days.”
He continued, “If the component is from a new source we take a look, meet with the supplier. We have a standard boilerplate distribution agreement and we can probably have the products on the shelf between 45 to 90 days.”
This activity is contributing to what Doherty described as “an exploding use of BoM (no pun intended).
“Time is of the essence to everybody these days,” he told Electronic Specifier. “Using our BoM tool engineers can create their quotes online, make price comparisons, and place their order with the click of a button”
The BoM can also be passed around internally. An engineer can share the product design with colleagues. “It kills two boards with one stone within customers,” said Doherty. “The designer orders parts as needed, the BoM is saved at Digi-Key and can be passed around within the customer and build into a volume order.”
Users can create and save their BOM with the correct part ratios, making it easy to multiply by the number of product assemblies during the ordering process. Purchasers can also choose to create a “Single Kit” to package several kits together, or a “Multi Kit” to package each kit separately.
The feature feeds well as Digi-Key continues its penetration of the volume supply sector. Users of the BoM toll can see price breaks for volumes of 25, 100 and 1,000. “If they want a larger volume of parts, we have a team who talk to suppliers and can feedback volume pricing.”
New products will another stimulus to the BoM. “We are very much part of our suppliers new product introduction (NPI) process,” said Doherty. “Obviously we recognise that the early releases go to the supplier’s strategic customers, then we can take the product to our bigger industrial customer base.”
Digi-Key has also added two other tools – a Scheduled Shipments programme and enhancements to the Shopping Cart feature.
The feature enables users to break a line item into multiple shipments and/or choose to have each line item on an order ship separately and arrive on different dates.
“It will allow customers to reduce their inventory costs, paying by the piece versus for paying a lump sum for a large quantity order, saving administrative time and resources,” Doherty explained.
New options on the shopping cart include the ability for customers to label their shopping carts with unique names instead of relying on Web ID’s and sales order numbers.
Users can also access a Combine Carts feature which allows them to combine multiple carts from two different locations. From the cart page, the customer can add older carts to the current one by accessing their order history to select from previous carts. Customers can also combine carts from the Web Order History page within My Digi-Key by clicking the “Add to Cart” or “Combine” buttons found beneath the lower right hand corner of the table. This will create a new shopping cart containing the combined component selections.


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