When faced with a myriad of changing regulations, extended lead-times and tight delivery schedules, specialist expertise can provide powerful solutions, says Sager Electronics’ Paul Kopp
Q – What are the greatest challenges faced by the power sector?
A) The ever-changing landscape of regulations is the biggest challenge, especially in medical, industrial and EMC-related applications, where regulations are frequently updated. Each country will have its own schedule for adopting industry certifications, so purchasers must be diligent in staying abreast of requirements. Manufacturers must also adapt materials and processes on an ongoing basis to ensure products meet the newest standards. Distribution plays a crucial role in tracking regulations and impacted parts across the supply chain. Sager works with both suppliers and customers to communicate changes, assist with new designs and stock the newest components, all while minimizing potential cost increases and delivery disruption.
Q – Have there been any major shifts in purchasing habits in the power sector?
A) For several years, we’ve seen a shift towards just in time deliveries from customers purchasing power conversion products. Power supplies have higher average selling prices and are physically larger than most components on a customer’s BOM, so purchasers can save money and production floorspace in this way. Increasingly, customers ask us to manage to their forecasts to make sure they have product available when required. We also work with purchasing and engineering to bridge any gaps between finding the best technical solution and sourcing components with the best price and lead-time. Customers are supported by a sales engineer and a field sales representative, while a dedicated inside sales representative manages price and delivery expectations.
Q – Have power supplies and associated products been affected by extending lead-times?
A) Lead-times of certain electronic components are beginning to extend, with pushouts of base products like capacitors, resistors, mosfets and FPGAs being felt across the supply chain. Power supplies rely on capacitive technology and are at an increased risk, but Sager has planned for any potential impact with significant investment in both high running items and customer specific parts. We’re confident we are well positioned to reduce the impact.
Q – How will readers benefit from Sager’s acquisition strategy?
A) The acquisition of PowerGate and Norvell, in 2014 and 2015 respectively, were designed to differentiate Sager Electronics through specialized knowledge, products and capabilities. Regional power supply distributor, PowerGate, was recognized for its technical sales team, marketing expertise and strong line card. Norvell furthered Sager’s value add capabilities, including full test, integration and design. In 2017, Sager acquired Power Sources Unlimited, which added to our technical expertise and enhanced relationships with shared power supply manufacturers. Today this technical team addresses front end inquiries from new customers, determining the right product solution.
Q – How does Sager prepare for the launch of a new power supply?
A) Sager is given advanced notification of new product introduction and works closely with suppliers to profile and inventory products towards specific markets. We load descriptions, images and datasheets to support marketing efforts, which are communicated to customers through our News2Know email program. Our power sales engineering team also undergo training based on suppliers’ six to twelve-month product road map to provide customers with up-to-date product information.
Q – How does Sager’s inventory level compare now to three years ago?
A) We’ve increased our onhand inventory by over 30 per cent in the past three years. In the coming months, Sager will open a new 64,000 square foot power solutions center and distribution facility in Carrollton, Texas. Our new location is 70 per cent larger than our current center in that territory, allowing us to triple our existing distribution footprint.
Q – What advice would you give purchasers sourcing power supplies and associated products?
A) Power products are some of the most complex in terms of design and procurement, so work with an authorized distributor structured to support both engineering and purchasing; capitalize on the services, technical knowledge and breadth of product afforded by this relationship. Sager’s solutions such as vendor managed and bonded inventory, kitting and labelling, or power and thermal value-add capabilities, combined with a robust portfolio and dedicated technical specialists, help customers find the best fit for their requirement.