What Do Engineers Fear Most? Unpredictability

By Logan Wamsley

While Halloween may be the time of year that some of us expect to be scared out of our wits, the good news is that Halloween is a predictable event. Every year, it arrives on the same day, and those of us who get scared easily can plan ahead to ensure our blood pressure remains at optimal levels through the festivities.

If only the electronics manufacturing industry was so predictable.

Alfred Hitchcock once famously said that nothing is more frightening than a closed door. Anything can be behind it — it could be nothing, or it could be something that resembles something from our darkest nightmares. The point, however, is not what is actually behind the door; what makes the situation so terrifying is the not knowing, the unpredictability of what could (or could not) be.

This is a rather apt analogy for today’s electronics manufacturing industry, where engineers and inventory procurement specialists must wake up every morning knowing that the market they operate in could change in an instant. As electronic component lifecycles have continually shortened to the point that some components become obsolete the instant they become available for purchase, OEM supply chains have been pushed to the very limit of what they can do to keep the lifecycles of their product intact. It’s a stressful — you might even say scary — state of affairs.

The industry, however, has not remained lifeless as OEMs have continued to struggle with unpredictable markets. Partstat, for example, as the world’s largest electronic component search engine and marketplace, has found a way to leverage its Big Data to craft a BOM monitoring platform that can “see the future.” It is hardly witchcraft; by analyzing over 50 billion data points on electronic components and semiconductors with a series of complex algorithms, Partstat BOM Monitoring has the ability to accurately predict obsolescence and allocation weeks or even months before it occurs.

Such an ability has profound implications not just for an OEM product’s lifecycle, but for the OEM’s bottom line. In order to react to an unpredictable market, engineers and supply chain managers are forced to make snap decisions that have significant financial consequences. A last time buy, product redesign, or large purchase through third-party channels each has costs associated with it and deserves to be thoughtfully considered when deciding how to move a supply chain forward — but limited windows of opportunity prevent stakeholders from knowing which path forward is best. By extending this window even a few weeks, OEMs are granted more time to know the financial ramifications of each option. Plus, by proactively staying ahead of the market, OEMs will avoid the price fluctuations associated with sudden market shifts and save significant working capital regardless of the decision they make.

With the predictive capabilities of Partstat BOM Monitoring at your disposal, the electronics manufacturing market doesn’t have to be so scary. The only scares OEMs will have to worry about are the ones who show up trick or treating at their door.