The ongoing semiconductor shortages have had massive impacts around the world, throwing a wrench into the production of consumer electronics, automobiles, industrial automation, and more. As companies scour their supply chains for available product, many are entering the open market for the first time.
But the waters in the open market can be murky and difficult to navigate for some. Inexperienced buyers, in their desperation to find the parts they need, can overlook major red flags and end up paying huge sums of money for counterfeit parts – or worse, no parts at all. To prevent this worst-case scenario, buyers must educate themselves and properly vet their suppliers. By partnering with an independent distributor like Smith, companies can rely on our vast market knowledge and expertise to reduce their risk and obtain the components they need to complete their builds.
For nearly four decades, Smith has been a leader in the semiconductor open market, backed by our commitment to quality and emphasis on proactive supply chain planning. Our operational framework is built on the 4Cs – comprehensive, consistent, continuous, and certified. These four pillars of quality underpin our role as the world’s leading independent distributor of electronic components.
In this piece, I will break down the 4Cs and discuss how each one plays a vital role during times of shortage, ensuring that the quality of our products is unmatched and without question.
Our first C – comprehensive – represents the keen attention to detail in everything we do, from how we qualify and manage suppliers to how we package and deliver products. Our systems-based approach to quality ensures electronic components meet the highest standards.
Our end-to-end quality process accounts for all details that affect the caliber of our products. Smith’s comprehensive processes and procedures are thoroughly documented in our proprietary operational platform, WorksChain. We inspect, measure, verify, and test electronic components from the outer packaging inward to confirm that the product’s characteristics are consistent with manufacturer specifications.
But our comprehensive Intelligent Distribution™ model starts long before components ever enter our operational facilities. It’s always important to be vigilant of nefarious players in the market, but it becomes even more essential in times of semiconductor shortage. Our stringent supplier screening process helps keep counterfeit components out of the supply chain by formally selecting, qualifying, and continually evaluating our vast network of trusted suppliers to ensure their ability to provide product that meets our customers’ requirements.
Our second C – consistent – speaks to Smith’s unwavering reliability in our operational processes and procedures. As I discussed above, our systems-based approach to quality not only allows us to provide comprehensive support to our customers but also ensures that our partners around the world receive identical product and service quality from our three distribution hubs in Houston, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam.
Moreover, our processes and procedures remain constant, regardless of market conditions. In a shortage situation, suspect and counterfeit product can be rampant in the supply chain, and it’s crucial to stay vigilant to protect against these risks. But, at Smith, we are always on guard. Our stringent supplier-screening and testing procedures are in place at all times, meaning we are always ready to combat the next wave of counterfeit material trying to enter the open market.
None of this would be possible, however, without the consistency we’ve developed within our people. Through our global, comprehensive learning and development program, our employees are trained using the exact same materials and resources – no matter where they are located.
Our third C – continuous – captures our ongoing commitment to innovation and process improvement. Counterfeiters and other nefarious players in the market are finding new ways to improve their methods and make it more difficult to identify their products as inauthentic, and, as such, we must work to always stay one step ahead of them.
We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to provide better product and service to our global customers. As new products are released, Smith develops new requirements for inspection and quality assurance to identify and understand the minute intricacies of those components. And, as we gain new customers with their own unique needs, Smith works with them to craft processes and procedures that address their specific needs.
From new equipment and facilities to automation and robotics, Smith is focused on investing in continual improvement to drive our growth. Within the last year, we added 30,000 square feet to our operational hub in Hong Kong, and a new, 30,000-square-foot global services hub in Houston. Looking forward, we are planning to open a 20,000-square-foot distribution center in Singapore later this year. With this 72 percent increase in operational space worldwide, we are also adding new equipment and greater automation capabilities to help us more efficiently move product without compromising our exacting standards for quality excellence.
Our final C – certified – reflects our dedication to upholding our high standards for quality assurance. At Smith, we refuse to rely solely on our own assessment of quality. Instead, we are backed by more than 25 third-party certifications and accreditations to demonstrate our strict adherence to industry standards.
Particularly in times of shortage, customers can rest assured knowing that Smith carries some of the highest certifications for counterfeit mitigation. These standards, such as AS6081, inform our anticounterfeit processes and procedures and give us a comprehensive framework for testing and inspecting electronic components to confirm authenticity.
Quality is vital across industries but demands even higher prominence when health and safety are on the line – such as in the medical, automotive, and aerospace and defense spheres. Smith upholds additional standards for authenticity and reliability, including our AS9120 and ISO 13485 certifications, to meet these industries’ stringent security and regulatory requirements.
We have spent more than 38 years developing Smith’s framework for quality excellence. In that time, we’ve seen numerous shortage situations unfold and have continued to incorporate new technology, training, and processes into our systems to confirm our products’ functionality and authenticity, so our customers can rest assured that Smith has taken the necessary steps to mitigate their risks.
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