Easily Find Electronic Components for Your Next PCB Design

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: May 31, 2022  |  Updated: June 8, 2022
Accessible Trustworthy Data for PCB Designers

What is the current state of the electronic industry? Dan Schoenfelder joins us today to discuss the most extreme problems the PCB design industry is currently facing: supply shortages, particularly the semi-conductor products and microcontrollers.

Tune in, or listen on the go. Learn how to keep up with the industry challenges through Nexar and Octopart.

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Show Highlights:

  • Dan shares his background and role his role at Octopart and now as the Head of Nexar sales
  • Problems with the supply chain continue; how are companies coping with the shortages in semi-conductor products and microcontrollers?
    • What is lean manufacturing, and what drives an inflexible supply chain?
    • The effect of the pandemic on manufacturing facilities is still very apparent and may continue through 2013
  • Dan discusses the many benefits of utilizing Octopart to find and access electronic components data easily
    • Octopart is the search engine for electronics and makes a great tool to integrate into PCB design workflows
    • Dan shares Octopart’s new features, including the ability to filter and search by specs
  • How does the Nexar API help with democratizing information in the electronics industry?
    • Ability to obtain information through the Nexar API programmatically and incorporate that into native workflows inside the users’ businesses
    • Nexar works with the RAI to ensure that all data collected can be trusted
  • Dan talks about the Electronic Design to Delivery Index (EDDI), which is meant to provide users with free insight into what's happening in the electronic space in general
  • Supply Chain Resilience tools – help designers build thoughtful designs and build BOMs (Bill of Materials) that are resilient to unforeseen challenges
  • What’s coming next for Nexar?

Links and Resources:

Connect with Dan Schoenfelder on LinkedIn
Search electronic parts, visit Octopart.com
Design with the PCB Community, learn more about the Nexar ecosystem
Learn more about the Electronic Design to Delivery index (EDDI)
Watch Previous Episode with Dan Schoenfelder: Supply Chain Intelligence from Octopart
Connect with Zach on LinkedIn

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Dan Schoenfelder:
And we released a couple months ago, product that we call our Electronic Design to Delivery Index or EDDI or affectionately internally, we call it The EDDI. And what The EDDI does is it shows both of that supply signal and the demand signal. It shows two years of history. So you're going to see the last two years across. I believe it's we have nine categories and then 15 subcategories below that.

Zack Peterson:
Hello everyone. And welcome to the On Track Podcast. I am your host, Zach Peterson. And today I'll be talking with Dan Schoenfelder, head of sales and marketing for Nexar and head of Octopart. He's working at dual role these days. And I think it's going to be fun to talk about the Nexar suite of products and the ecosystem and where Octopart fits into this. Dan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Zach. It's a real pleasure to be here. Good to talk to you.

Zack Peterson:
Thank you. Thank you. So you are someone who has been with Altium for a while, but not necessarily in the boards and systems group where, I get to participate. They're part of this other product that even some Altium users, I think don't really know about. So maybe if you could tell us your background and then your role within the Altium family of brands, if you will.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, absolutely. So I'd like to say that I'm a veteran of the electronics space in general. I've been with Altium, as you said, about five years now. And prior to my time at Altium, I worked for Arrow Electronics, the large electronics distribution company. I spent some time in their digital strategy group and did some interesting things there, like help them build their marketplace business, which is called Verical. And prior to my time at Arrow Electronics, I was at Flex in contract manufacturing. And when I was there, I was in a global supply chain capacity and put together really complex supply chain strategies for customers like Keith Packard, Juniper Networks, were a couple that I spent time working on.

Dan Schoenfelder:
So, anyway, I feel like the last 15 years of my career has really prepared me for these unique times that we're in right now, because I feel like I understand the perspective that a lot of stakeholders in this industry have relative to the experiences that I've had in the industry. So yeah, it's been a journey for sure and it's been great for me to be a part of this history.

Zack Peterson:
So just as, as you reflect on your experience, working on the manufacturing and sourcing and supply chain side of the industry, I'd like to ask you this, have you ever seen it this bad?

Dan Schoenfelder:
No, I mean, this cannot compare to anything when you think about the intensity and the duration of shortages and things that we've seen here. I've been in this industry long enough to see a number of difficult circumstances come and go. Canum capacitors are a category that seems to always have problems with raw materials and therefore creating volatility. And I've seen probably three or four cycles of tantalum capacitors come and go. But that lasts several months, maybe a couple of years. People work on redesigns and board spins in it, and those things tend to go away over time. But yeah, I would say right now is, absolutely, we've never seen anything like this.

Dan Schoenfelder:
And the reality is I think some of the data that we have is showing us right now that what we're seeing is relatively normal in a lot of pockets of the industry, but there are certain categories that just are seeing extreme problems and obviously semiconductor products are one of them and micro controllers specifically. But yeah, I can say 100%, I am glad that I'm working in the capacity I am in now versus trying to plan a supply chain for a company like Hewlett Packard or Juniper Networks at this time.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. I could only imagine how that gets very complex. I mean, I get to work on smaller projects and eventually handed off to a manufacturing partner that is then going to take over that procurement strategy and building a supply chain around a product. I get to see it on the front end as a smaller designer. How does the process look to a large company when they need to actually plan sustainable production for large sustained production runs over time?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. There are a number of factors in play, obviously, but certainly there's a lot that can be done on the design side to prepare for sustainability of products. Obviously coming to the table with a thoughtful design to begin with is one that has both the characteristics that are necessary for both the manufacturability of a product, but also a bomb or bill of material that has resiliency as well, too.

Dan Schoenfelder:
And there are a lot of different things and strategies that approaches companies can take to achieving that. And I can tell you from being on the manufacturing side, there are shortcuts that happen, and there are obviously go-to-market timeframes that impact that and other implications I'm sure as well too. But yeah, from a supply team perspective specifically though, obviously trying to design in products that are in prime life cycle is something that's huge, designing with products where you can have multiple sourcing options and when I mean that, I mean, multiple manufacturers on your approved supplier, approved vendor list for a given part. Those are really two, just blocking and tackling things that I think I'd love every designer to have in mind when they're pulling together some new list of parts they're working with.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. I totally agree. And I think now companies are, at least the smaller designers and smaller companies are taking the strategy that the big OEMs are taking, which is order early, order extra. We hear in the news all the time about double-ordering. Now orders have gone non-returnable, non-cancelable and people are putting it more on the front end, instead of just assuming that everything is just going to always be available on the back end.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. If you were to ask my opinion on how do we arrive in these circumstances right now, I think that some of it is a byproduct of lean manufacturing. There's been a big push to move liabilities down your supply chain. That could be inventory ownership. That could be any number of factors. And it's resulted in at least in part... It's played a role in where we find ourselves now, because we've driven so much cost out of the manufacturing cycle by avoiding ownership of inventory. And to me, it's now manifesting itself in exactly what you were describing, non-cancelable, non-returnable orders and really inflexible supply chains has been the result of that.

Dan Schoenfelder:
So I feel like over the course of 20 years or so, when lean manufacturing was really, really, I wouldn't say a really new concept, but it was relatively new and not widely adopted 20 years ago when contract manufacturing was beginning to gain prominence, but manufacturing in China, wasn't much of a thing to the environment that we find ourselves in today where the dominant manufacturing geography is Asia. And you combine that with this inflexibility of supply chains right now, it just has created a perfect storm for us to experience the market conditions that we are.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. I remember about a year ago, listening on CNBC as people were talking about supply chain and automotive chip shortages and just chip shortages generally, it seemed like every night in the news, it was something forever. And I think everyone would've thought that it would've been over by now, but I think people don't realize manufacturing capacity doesn't just spin up overnight. And now, even Intel's CEO, Pat Gelsinger is projecting, I think 20, 23, at least was how long this whole episode with chip shortages would last something to that effect.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. It's interesting for our industry to be front page news on a consistent basis when it's businesses that aren't Intel.

Zack Peterson:
Right.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Intel drives a different level of interest than most companies in our space. But yeah, I think it was last week as well, too, that Texas Instruments downgraded earnings expectations for this quarter because their fabs and manufacturing facilities that they're relying upon are closing due to COVID in China. And so I think that we seem to be going in these waves of problems that we're seeing that are both pandemic driven, that are demand driven. To me, this points to something that's near and dear to me. And that is the fact that there, clearly, is just not enough good information out there to make better decisions.

Dan Schoenfelder:
And that's part of the business that I'm responsible for inside of Altium, is being in the business of enabling better decisions. And so I think one of these interesting trends that we're seeing is there, despite the fact that there's more information available than there's ever been to at any stage of design. It doesn't matter if you're a designer using all team designer, or if you're somebody that's in procurement at a contract manufacturer. You've got more information at your fingertips today than you had at any point in time in your career. But the reality is it's not good enough. It still doesn't allow for flexible planning and for us to be proactive enough to respond to these sorts of challenges. So yeah, I feel like we still have a long way to go as an industry to arrive at a place where we could potentially weather these sorts of circumstances.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. You bring up the massive amount of information that is out there, especially around parts that you can choose from distributor information going down the list. It seems really difficult to... Or I think this is one of the challenges with large data sets generally, it's being able to compile it into a format that's easy to understand, consume, make actionable decisions quickly and move on to the next problem.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. Speaking specifically about Octopart, which hopefully most of the listeners, slash watchers of this podcast are familiar with, but if you're not, Octopart is a search engine for electronic components. It is owned by Altium, and it is part of the Altium's Nexar business unit. But Octopart has somewhere approaching 60 million parts that are available to find, all kinds of data from price and availability, to parts specifications, to data sheets and images and CAD models. And the goal of Octopart from the start has been to democratize information. It's been to provide users and stakeholders of the industry with easy, simple, defined access to decision making criteria. And I think it's been a very successful journey. Octopart has grown tremendously since my time at Altium. Our feature sets continue to get richer all the time.

Dan Schoenfelder:
I think one of the biggest sellers of this, that I haven't mentioned is, it's all free. You don't have to pay anything for it. Your comment that led me into this thread is that what gets minimized, that's the hard work behind that is in that compiling in the normalization of that information. You're talking about bringing in data sets from disparate sources, literally thousands of sources of information every day, and making sure that brands are represented in one unified way. That part numbers are represented in one unified way. There's a lot of secret sauce that exist behind the scenes that makes that all possible. And so I'm really proud of the work the team has done to enable that experience, that search experience online to users of all kinds.

Zack Peterson:
So I'm going to be a shill for Octopart for just a moment, because I think one of my favorite features on Octopart with regards to finding components, especially if you need to find a substitute component, is the filters. Being able to filter down by specification, by package size. A package size is huge especially if you're doing replacements by simple stuff like voltage, current rating, whatever it may be. For me, that's huge. It's a huge timesaver. Yeah. I can do it on a distributor website, so, I could go to the big distributors and get the same kind of filters, but it's only their inventory. It really helps to be able to see everybody's stuff all at once. I can make a plan as far as who I'm going to buy through. What's really nice is I can see, "Oh, it's already available at this one distributor. I'm already going to buy all my other parts from, just add it to the order."

Dan Schoenfelder:
I appreciate that. This is why we do these things, I think, that's certainly the ability to filter, one of the features that I think that has been most impactful to us in my tenure. So in five years here has happened, about very early in my time at Octopart at Altium was enabling a feature we called search by specs. Essentially what it does is allows inside of our search bar. It normalizes for units of measure, it normalizes for fractions, decimals. And so what we've essentially done is parsed out, not just the description of a part, not just the part number, but everything in the data sheet and makes it discoverable by our search algorithms. And I think it enables us to deliver results that are the true intended results of a search. So we're really proud of the discoverability options that you have when you're in Octopart, whether it's the search bar itself, whether it's the features like the parametric features and the filtering abilities that you mentioned as well, Zack.

Zack Peterson:
Well, and then I think one thing that some Altium users and maybe even users of other search platforms don't realize is that Octopart is actually supplying a lot of the data that they're using when they're using their part search features. What gave you guys the idea to become the data king of the electronic components?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Well, you just gave me a significant promotion, so I appreciate that. I think this is a great opportunity for me to introduce our Nexar business unit as well, too. So Octopart is part of our Nexar business unit and one of the things that has happened as a result of us evolving this business unit and bringing it to fruition over the last 20, I'd say 20 months or so, is that we've rebranded our API. So, what was formerly the Octopart API has been taken on as part of the Nexar API. So, that rebranding is done, but the API and the contents of it from anyone who is familiar with the Octopart API is the same. And you're right. We have literally thousands and thousands of API keys that are in circulation across the industry that are powering web experiences that are not our own, that are powering OEMs and their data needs.

Dan Schoenfelder:
I wouldn't say it's ubiquitous to the industry quite, but to me, it's really great that we've become a defacto standard of the industry when it comes to providing information. And I'm really proud of the interfaces that we have as well, too. Just to get a little bit techy, as techy as I can get on this, the Nexar API has a GraphQL endpoint and allows us to be extremely flexible with the data that we do make available. So, pretty much any time that you see something in Octopart user experience online, you can obtain that information through the Nexar API programmatically and incorporate that into your native workflows inside of your businesses. And I think that when we talk about this ideal of democratizing information, it gets to the core of it.

Zack Peterson:
Well, democratizing information goes both ways because as... One thing that I have seen a lot more of in recent years on the platform is secondhand distributors and brokers coming onto the platform and listing parts. And I think people may have mixed feelings about it. I do have one broker overseas that I have never had a problem with. So, I go to them when it's an emergency. I think some people will tell you, "Hey, never use the brokers." And maybe that's a matter of personal opinion, but it seems like you've democratized it in the other direction as well, basically, allowing anyone to come on and possibly list their parts. How do you feel about that and how do you think others should feel about having, I guess you could say, strangers come onto the platform and list whatever.?

Dan Schoenfelder:
That's a really great question, especially in this time that we're in right now, extreme scarcity of parts and specifically in some categories. I think that traditional buying channels are just not an option in some cases and therefore looking into a secondary market for products is a necessity. A few things that I want to say about what we do is first off, we don't just allow anybody on the platform. We do follow some protocols that we utilize, a company called ERAI, who is an excellent organization. I encourage everybody to go out and check them out, but they're an excellent organization for vetting the industry for fraudulent actors and bad players in the industry. They keep a database of those. And so any partner that comes to us that wants to list inventory, we're working with ERAI to ensure that those sources can be trusted.

Dan Schoenfelder:
That said, we also really aren't in a place to be the policeman of the industry either. We do encourage any user of Octopart or our data to vet, if they're going from a secondary source that those sources are providing them with parts that are going to be suitable for their design. Any legitimate company is going to allow you to, again, to vet that opportunity. They're going to allow you to test parts, and they're going to allow you to do what's necessary to determine that their pedigree is fine to the parts, but also that those parts are going to be functional for your designs as well. But yeah, there's been definitely a prominence of those players coming forward and participating on the platform. And I think they do play an integral role in supporting some of our customers in this time of need.

Zack Peterson:
Sure. And that's actually good to hear that you guys have a vetting mechanism in place, because I think from the surface, and especially if you don't know what's going on in the background of the platform, you start to see all these strange names come up on, the non-authorized distributor list for a part. And I think it's natural for someone to get a little suspicious. One thing I see is with some brokers, they'll just list another broker's inventory. It's like, "You go to this guy." They're just going to buy it from the other guy and be the middle man or something like this.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. I'm sorry to interrupt you, Zach. But one thing I would say about that too, is we do have feedback loops at Octopart as well, too. So we encourage users that are experiencing those sorts of issues, where they know inventory is not real, or they've gone to a source and found out that information that originated to them at Octopart is no longer relevant or is just not true. Go to our feedback loops, provide us information. We'll pull that inventory off the site. We'll go and validate with the seller of those parts or the person who claims they can sell those parts and make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect user interest, but also to have the best product possible at the end of the day.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. That's great to hear. Like I said, I think some people might look at that and scratch their heads a little bit, but I guess that's one of the double-edged sword issues of democratizing data is, you come at it from both ways. So that's great to hear that you guys are taking an active role in maintaining the platform and making sure that it's safe for buyers.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely something that's very important to us.

Zack Peterson:
Sure. So with Octopart being not just a data aggregator, but a provider... You were talking about the Nexar business unit, and I guess, the ecosystem that's being created with the Nexar suite of products, with the different partners that are part of that ecosystem, and you mentioned that OEMs are using the data. I'm wondering how are OEMs using the data? Do you have any insight into that?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. I mean, I can't get into the specifics of the OEMs themselves, but absolutely, I think that there are a lot of companies that either have homegrown tools to support engineering and design or homegrown tools to support procurement and manufacturing and they have data requirements for those. And those data requirements could be integrating something like price and availability into their tools. So that as their buying team is looking through their critical parts list, they can see natively inside of their tools, what parts are available.

Dan Schoenfelder:
It could be bringing part specifications and life cycle and lead time data into a PLM that doesn't have that information natively available as well, too. You know, those are two, I think really, really popular OEM use cases for data, both. Again, and I don't want to say that pricing availability is exclusively a supply chain problem either. I think everybody in the design phase should be concerned about, is this part widely available in inventory or available at all and how many trusted distributors are selling it. And I think they should be concerned obviously about prices as well, too. So, I think there are use cases for the data across the entire spectrum of the realization of an electronic assembly.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah. That's exactly where my mind was heading when you had mentioned that OEMs were using it, PLM integration or ERP integration.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah.

Zack Peterson:
Something like this.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Those are both very popular use cases for sure.

Zack Peterson:
And I guess the natural next step when you have API is to do an embed.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah.

Zack Peterson:
Any progress on embeds?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. We have a few end embeds that we do support. There's a price and availability embed that we have that is something that is adopted by other public web experiences and other websites, but it's also then integrated for internal decision making as well, too. And it's a nice tool. It allows with just a few lines of code somebody for a developer to take that and bring that into their own user experience. Again, it could be behind a firewall, or it could be a public experience as well, too. So, we have a price and availability embed. We also have an embed of our bill material tool as well too. And I think that's something that's extremely powerful because it takes that one off, the ability to search for parts, one off and allows you to upload an entire bill of material.

Dan Schoenfelder:
There's some really cool tech behind that as well, too, such as automatic column detection. So you don't have to have your columns in a specific order with necessarily your part number and in col A or something of that nature. And it recognizes if a column is a part number, if it's a description, et cetera. So, there's some really cool tech behind our bill of material tool, our bomb tool, but that's an embed as well, too. So, there are some embeds out there. If you go to the nexar.com website, we have information on what those embeds are and potential use cases for them as well, too.

Zack Peterson:
Absolutely. Yeah. And we'll for the viewers out there who are curious, we'll include some links to all of this stuff in the show notes. So go check that out. So what's on the horizon for Nexar? What are some of the newer product releases that have been coming out and what can designers expect in terms of getting these data sets into an easily consumable, actionable format so that they can make those critical supply chain decisions?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. That this is a good leading. This is something we spent a lot of time on over the last several months. And we released a couple months ago, product that we call our Electronic Design to Delivery Index or EDDI, or affectionately internally, we call The EDDI. And essentially what The EDDI is, it's two different indexes where we are trying to provide users with free insight into what's happening in the electronic space in general. There's a Supply Index and there's a Demand Index. This is a free report, again. You can go to nexar.com and you can subscribe to it and it'll get delivered to your inbox in a PDF form on a monthly basis, but really what the index does, regardless if you're talking about supply or demand, we use the same timeframe for both.

Dan Schoenfelder:
So what we're doing is we're pegging this index to a start of January, 2020, which is pre-pandemic. And we think the closest date that we can find to what everybody thought was normal. And so what we're trying to do is peg this index to a timeframe where we felt like market conditions were considerably stable. What The EDDI does is it shows both of that supply signal and the demand signal. It shows two years of history. So you're going to see the last two years across. I believe it's we have nine categories and then 15 subcategories below that. And so I can share that in the latest edition of The EDDI, our supply index, if that supply index was a hundred in January of 2020, the supply index for March end was actually 85.

Dan Schoenfelder:
So, when you think about things in 85 index relative to a hundred, roughly two and a half years ago is not all that bad, but the reality is there are some categories inside of that supply index that are seeing extreme problems. I mentioned micro controllers earlier. That's one that's seeing one of these issues. So the micro controller index for the month of March was a 26, and that's the lowest it's ever been for supply. I believe it's now 19 consecutive months where the supply index for micro controller has declined. So, I think what it's showing right now is there's not a lot of relief in sight for those people that are looking for off the shelf micro controllers right now. And we see that across 32, 16 and eight bit, I don't think it really matters right now that there's some pretty extreme supply issues across all those categories.

Dan Schoenfelder:
The demand index itself is measured in a similar way, similar timeframe, and really it's a sourcing signal. I think it's designed to show the imbalance between the current immediate sourcing needs and what the supply is in the market. And, so again, if we started at a 100 in the index in January of 2020, that demand index today is 165 and that's across all component categories. And again, I'll dig into micro controllers again for this example, but microcontrollers from a demand perspective, again, if it was a hundred in January of 2020, it's right now, let me confirm this, it's 416. So it's a 4X demand index change since we began tracking this in January of 2020. So, there's extreme demand or an acuteness of sourcing needs for micro controllers. And I don't think that's a surprise to anyone right now.

Zack Peterson:
Okay. So I'm just thinking about this in terms of an index that tracks securities. So I understand it's a relative index. I guess I'm just trying to simplify it here. Am I to interpret the current level of 165 on the demand index to basically on aggregate mean that demand for electronic components in the categories you measure is on average 65% higher than it was at the beginning of the pandemic?

Dan Schoenfelder:
That's a great question. The answer is no, unfortunately.

Zack Peterson:
Okay.

Dan Schoenfelder:
That's an oversimplified way of looking at this. We'd love to create a really straightforward, I think, solution that's easily understandable. The reality is we're normalizing this across millions and millions of part numbers and across dozens of signals that we're getting in the market. And so because of that, we also need to normalize for the fact that how fast do we think the industry is growing as well, too. The adoption of electronic componentry and all facets of our life is becoming more prevalent.

Dan Schoenfelder:
And so therefore the industry is growing at a certain rate. And so we have to derate depending on how fast we think the industry is growing relative to that time in history that we're comparing it to. So, there's some complexity there that doesn't quite make it as simple as, as you described, Zack, but, but the reality is, I think, it's one data point, it's one indicator that can help you understand what it is normalized today versus yesterday versus six months ago. I view it as being a signal of sourcing activity. It's not a compounded demand view where it's just... There's a simple calculation behind it.

Zack Peterson:
Okay.

Dan Schoenfelder:
I hope that's helpful.

Zack Peterson:
A little bit. Well, it sounds like you're taking into account the derivative inventory market share by component, let's say. I don't know something like this. I think that it's a black box.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. It's definitely a black box. It's something we can't obviously share our algorithms behind this and our methodologies entirely. What I would say is again, that this demand signal is really designed to show the acuteness of the delta between what's available and what is the sourcing activity for that part?

Zack Peterson:
Well, I think whenever someone puts out an index like this, it's going to be really interesting over time to see what else it correlates with, whether it's technological, economic, financial, whatever the case may be, because I know that at some level they all get interrelated and maybe it's second, third, fourth order effects. But I think it's going to be interesting to see once this gets out there and analyzed a bit deeper what this correlates with, and so that leads me to my next question.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, please go ahead.

Zack Peterson:
What other types of indices or data indicators does Nexar plan to make available to the electronics industry?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, One of our other products is under a category that we've entitled supply chain resilience. And I think this is something that should be near and dear to everyone that's listening, it is the importance of building thoughtful designs and building bombs that have resiliency to them. And essentially if we think about what we were describing in the indices that we put together, those are high level categories of components and actionable insights are something that we want to bring not just at a category level, but also at the bill material level. So what our supply chain resilience products allow companies to do is to take their bills and materials, to put them through our products and to, on the other side of that, understand where they have risk, where that risk resides.

Dan Schoenfelder:
One of the things we like to look at this from the perspective of is, there are most companies practice second and third sourcing for critical components. And that's the dimension of risk that they're thinking about this, is how many alternatives do I have to buy from? Are our tools around supply chain resilience? Don't just look at this alternate source, but it doesn't really do you any good to have alternate sources if there's never market availability of inventory, if those are hard to find components. So it really digs deep into the bill of material and to alternate sources, and it allows businesses to really understand what is their risk in aggregate and not just on a single plane.

Zack Peterson:
That's very interesting. And I think this takes another step towards making all of that data into a format that's actionable and tangible for folks who need to make these kind of critical decisions and often in very compressed timeframes.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, and I think that's one of the keys here is, these are real time tools. They allow problems to be quickly identified. And I think at the end of the day, what most businesses are concerned with is predictability. Can I predictably build this, build the product I'm concerned about over time and that predictability starts with that bill of material and it has a direct implication on revenue for companies. So, that's how we're viewing this is helping companies think about revenue predictability, and by adopting these tools.

Zack Peterson:
That's a great way to think about it. And I'm really excited to see what else comes out of all of these efforts to develop these data driven tools for businesses. It's interesting because I think the electronics industry indirectly drives so much innovation by making all of this, bringing all this technology into modern life. And yet, in some ways we lag behind what happens in software development.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah.

Zack Peterson:
And I think they're crunching the data, making it actionable, making it interconnected and giving it out to everybody for free is one area where the industry has maybe fallen behind what happens in the software world. So it's great to see that approach being taken by Octopart and by Nexar at large.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. I mean, across the business unit, we're really proud of the products that we've developed. We think our roadmap is really strong and has some compelling reasons for folks to look at our tools, to integrate them into their workflows. I'm really bullish on the future of where we're taking things.

Zack Peterson:
Well, I think we're going to leave it there because we'd love to have you come back on in the future when there are new product releases and we can have another conversation like this again.

Dan Schoenfelder:
That sounds great, Zach. Thanks so much for having me really appreciate it.

Zack Peterson:
Thank you very much.

Dan Schoenfelder:
And I don't want to date this podcast too much, but I do want to say, "Happy Star Wars day to you."

Zack Peterson:
Well, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah, of course.

Zack Peterson:
I got you. All right. So all the listeners out there, please make sure to check out the show notes. You can get some more great information on Nexar. You can get some links over to Octopart and see some of the great features that have been added to the platform over the last few years. And you can also connect with Dan on LinkedIn. Are you okay if we put your LinkedIn profile up folks can connect with?

Dan Schoenfelder:
Please do. Yeah.

Zack Peterson:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Schoenfelder:
Yeah. I think I'm always looking forward to connecting with interesting folks from the industry, so please reach out.

Zack Peterson:
Absolutely. Okay, great. Thank you so much. It's all the listeners out there. Make sure you check out the show notes and definitely don't stop learning, stay on track and we'll see it next time. Thanks Dan.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA), and he previously served on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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