Take Control of Your PCB Supply Chain with Altium Designer

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: January 22, 2021

If only circuit board manufacturing were simple, designers could always simply send out their designs without worrying about component stocks. Unfortunately, the realities of the PCB supply chain can derail any planned circuit board fabrication and assembly run. Component stocks can get depleted, critical parts can go obsolete, and prices can suddenly change before a design hits the PCB assembly line. What can designers do to prevent these problems and ensure they can meet delivery schedules?

With the PCB supply chain features in Altium Designer, it’s easy to get the sourcing data you need for your components and spot sourcing problems early. Designers can anticipate component availability interruptions before a design is completed and sent out for production, rather than reacting to supply chain disruptions. Here’s how Altium Designer helps you find the parts you need for your design, import components directly into your schematics and layout, and ensure you’ll be able to source components before manufacturing.


The industry’s only design application that integrates PCB supply chain visibility into its complete set of design tools.

Any new design can contain a huge range of components ranging from passive to specialized ICs and SoCs. Designers need to take control over all components in their products to ensure they don’t fall victim to PCB supply chain volatility. If a new design is to be produced at high scale and with minimal redesigns, a design team needs complete visibility into the electronic components supply chain. Digging into the supply chain early is the best way to ensure a new product can be produced at the required scale.

What can designers do to dig deep into the supply chain? Supply chain integration is about more than just getting a peak at distributor databases, it takes tools for importing components into a new design and managing sourcing data in a single interface. A complete set of PCB design utilities should include the features designers need to overcome PCB supply chain disruptions and get through manufacturing smoothly.

The PCB Supply Chain and Sourcing Features You Need

PCB designers need current information on lead times, costs, obsolescence, and available replacement components for successful supply chain management. Getting data from distributors shouldn’t require browsing their websites and manually recording components stocks. Instead, designers need access to these capabilities within their PCB design software. PCB supply chain management tools should give design teams the following set of features:

  • Updated component stocks, prices, and lists of distributors
  • ECAD and MCAD models for components that can be used in a PCB layout
  • Lifecycle data for identifying in-production, obsolete, and EOL components

When designers can access these features within their PCB design software, it’s easy to prevent redesigns before manufacturing and assembly delays.

Integration with Component Distributors in Altium Designer

The main problem with supply chain integration isn’t getting access to current data. If you subscribe to the right 3rd party services and spend enough time on component distributor websites, you can find the data you need. The real problem is immediately accessing that data within your design software. 3rd party solutions aren’t really solutions because they cannot provide ECAD models and sourcing data directly in your design tools.

Altium has partnered with major distributors to bring Altium Designer users a complete set of supply chain visibility tools. These features are included inside Altium Designer; there’s no need to use an external application to access critical PCB supply chain data. In addition, this data will be instantly imported into design documents and your BOM, there’s no need to copy sourcing information into your documentation. Everyone from large OEMs to small service bureaus will see major productivity benefits when they use the managed supply chain features in Altium Designer.

PCB supply chain integration in Altium Designer

The Manufacturer Part Search panel in Altium Designer.

Stay Productive with Accurate Component Models

Design engineers and project managers need the right schematic design and PCB layout features to create their circuit boards, but they also need tools that integrate component models into their design tools. Sourcing data is extremely important for staying productive and preventing fabrication delays. However, PCB designers also need correct component data and ECAD models to use in their designs. As many components have non-standard packages and footprints, designers need tools that quickly import this data into their design documentation, rather than creating every footprint from scratch.

Access Components with Available Footprints in Altium Designer

The Manufacturer Part Search panel and design libraries in Altium Designer let you spot components that have updated footprints and schematic symbols available for instant download. Instead of using a component creation service or hoping you can find accurate components on forums, you can instantly import components into your libraries and start placing components in your PCB layout. With updated component data and sourcing information, designers have everything they need to stay productive.

Because Altium Designer’s component libraries use a unified data format, design reuse and design updates are easy tasks. Designers can quickly create libraries from their design documents and reuse circuit or layout blocks in a new design. When an old design needs to be updated, it’s easy to import new components into a design and start applying updates in an old project. With the PCB supply chain features and complete set of PCB design tools, designers have everything they need to be productive in a single application.

PCB supply chain and PCB components

Altium Designer integrates data across design tools and management features.

PCB Design Data and Supply Chain Integration in the Cloud

Cloud data management solutions have come a long way, but 3rd party data management tools can’t provide the integration designers need to be productive. Keeping updated component models and sourcing data backed up on an external server or cloud service is clunky and prone to errors. Designers shouldn’t have to keep their design and project data backed up in a 3rd party service either, everything should be streamlined and accessible in your PCB design software.

Altium has taken the unprecedented step of creating a complete ecosystem for supply chain and project data management in the cloud, and these easy-to-use tools are accessible within Altium Designer. The Altium 365 platform is a design team’s answer to a complete data management and supply chain visibility solution. By integrating the Altium 365 platform into Altium Designer, PCB design teams can quickly share, access, and manage their design data and supply chain in a single program.

Altium has Created a Complete PCB Supply Chain Ecosystem

If you have tools that integrate supply chain information directly into your PCB libraries, you won’t have to use third-party tools to manage your PCB supply chain data. You can anticipate component supply chain problems instead of reacting to them, and you can plan your sourcing strategy accordingly. You won’t fall victim to surprise obsolescence or EOL notices, and you can go to market sooner with your desired components thanks to Altium 365’s supply chain integration. Best of all, everything is accessible in Altium Designer, which helps you design with maximum productivity.

PCB supply chain in Altium Concord Pro

Altium Concord Pro on the Altium 365 platform provides real-time supply chain visibility and component models for your design.

Altium Designer is the only PCB design platform that provides a complete set of PCB supply chain visibility and management features alongside the industry’s best design tools. Whether you need to complete a small prototyping run or millions of units, Altium Designer has the supply chain management features you need to be successful.

Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers unprecedented integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium 365. You can check theproduct page for a more in-depth feature description or one of theOn-Demand Webinars.

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, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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