While many engineers are optimistic about component availability in the supply chain, a new survey from Avnet Inc revealed the three tactics used to navigate disruptions in 2023.
Engineers said in the survey that they believe the component shortage has improved from 2022, however, market conditions are a big concern along with geopolitical issues. Overall, improvements in electronic components, notably passives, have been felt but there is still some strain with microcontrollers and analog devices, Avnet’s survey said.
The semiconductor shortage that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic sent engineers into a tailspin looking to find the right parts for their designs. These disruptions over the past few years have engineers laying groundwork for future issues that may arise — either from the next pandemic or geopolitical crisis that strains the supply chain.
Avnet identified three tactics commonly used by engineers in 2023 to navigate the lack of component availability. These included:
- 32% of engineers seeking alternative sources for parts
- 19% of engineers increased buffer inventory
- 17% of engineers increased the timetable of demand forecasts
In 2022, finding alternative part sources was the top solution as well, however, the second tactic was moving beyond the current approved manufacturer list. Avnet’s 2023 survey shows that engineers adapting inventory or forecasts instead of going “off list” for parts, shows engineers are looking for longer-term solutions to navigate disruption.
Additionally, Avnet’s survey found that using distributors rose to be strategically important in 2023 when engineers looked to find alternative sources for parts.
“One thing has become certain, and that is the desire to implement long-term strategies that will help ease the impact of any unforeseen disruptions and ensure flexibility in both sourcing and design,” said Rebeca Obregon Jimenez, senior VP of strategic business engagements and supplier management at Avent. “The key to this is access to actionable data, which distributors such as Avnet are using today to help OEMs gain more visibility and control in their supply chains.”
No plans for AI
One interesting aspect of Avnet’s survey is the lack of desire to use artificial intelligence (AI). Given the rise in that technology, it would appear engineers are hesitant to adopt it.
The survey found that 56% of engineers are not using AI and have no plans to use it in the future. Of those surveyed, only 4% of engineers are currently using AI in their work today with only 14% saying they have plans to implement it this year.