Distributor Wyle Electronics LLC has expanded to New England its program with supply-chain-networking provider Tradec.com, the two announced last week.
A May 1999 rollout in California gave Wyle customers an opportunity to try the Tradec.com system, which is designed for component-buying organizations that want to take advantage of the Internet but don't want to build a system internally or purchase an enterprise package.
PurchasingPro, the component-buyer's portion of Tradec.com's Internet-based procurement options, lowers operational costs while speeding work flow and information management, according to the San Jose-based online company.
Tradec.com is one of several e-commerce/supply-chain management solutions that Wyle is offering its customers.
While the Irvine, Calif., distributor of semiconductors and provider of a host of value-added services hasn't aligned itself with as many partners as other leading distributors-Avnet Inc., for example, has more than a half-dozen electronic portals serving its customers- Wyle is providing some select services.
Last June, Wyle joined EDA tool provider OrCAD's activeparts.com Web site, which simplifies the sourcing process once design issues are dealt with on the front end. Among other things, activeparts.com offers a search mechanism and a components-matching function.
The distributor also provides a variety of solutions through its Atlas Services program, which manages the logistics services for the VEBA Electronics LLC's member companies, which includes Wyle.
Today, there are numerous online supply-chain management, quote-processing, and purchasing options, but A-Plus Manufacturing Corp., a San Jose-based contract electronics manufacturer, decided to give Tradec.com a try because of A-Plus' relationship with Wyle.
"Wyle recommended them to us, but at first we were skeptical because our own [in-house] program was quite sufficient," said Dave Kichar, vice president of materials at A-Plus.
"But Tradec.com reduced our quote turnaround time and it matched line cards with our requirements. We plan on using it as part of a total e-commerce solution because it's XML-friendly and matches with our MRP system quite well."
However, Kichar added, it will take several e-commerce portals for A-Plus to gain a total solution. While Tradec.com is moving toward full supply-chain management, its current focus is on front-end quote processing. And while many e-commerce companies say they are moving toward a full SCM solution, it appears that none are there yet.
Mike Burkett, senior analyst of manufacturing strategies at AMR Research Inc., Boston, said that using multiple vendors is a method many companies appear to be adopting.
"It's usually a combination of people: you have companies that define component management, others that provide procurement capabilities, and still others that provide order management," Burkett said.
Leah Knight, the Gartner Group Inc.'s principal analyst for B2B e-commerce in San Jose, concurs. "It's a highly complex supply chain compared with other industries, and there are many processes in the electronics supply chain. What I have found is there are solutions in the marketplace to address specific processes."
Focused on the front-end quoting process, Tradec.com's PurchasingPro allows users to input an RFQ or bill of materials, and the system will then search for the most cost-effective solution. Feedback comes from among the 64 suppliers and distrib- utors that are members of Tradec.com.
Wyle's Bay Area regional vice president, Henry Mathison, said use of Tradec.com's solution has decreased customers' quote-preparation and processing time for a typical bill of materials from an average of 6.4 hours to 2.5 hours. Additionally, Wyle has been able to accelerate the average quote turnaround time by approximately 27%, Mathison said.
At A-Plus, while the CEM has doubled in size, the head count in its quote department has remained the same, according to Kichar.
"Tradec.com has improved our efficiency in handling the number of BOMs we process," he said. "Without it, we would have to expand our quote center by a factor of 2x."
Kichar, however, doesn't see Tradec.com or comparable solutions replacing distributors.
A-Plus sources approximately 70% to 75% of its materials through the channel, particularly PLDs, where suppliers such as Altera Corp. and Xilinx Inc. channel most of the components through distributors.
The agreement with Wyle is Tradec.com's first move outside the Bay Area, according to chief executive John Abe. "New England is the second-largest market for quoting activity between distributors and component- purchasing organizations, so there is a great deal of opportunity," Abe said.
So far, Wyle and Tradec.com have signed one customer in New England.
Tradec.com last week announced plans to release PurchasingPro version 5.0, which will provide an enhanced Internet browser that can be linked to members' back offices. It will also provide users with customized status reports and alerts.
E-commerce hub enhancements will include direct connections to ERP, SCP, and CSM packages, and XML-to-EDI translation capability, which means that purchasers won't have to duplicate orders on both systems.