BEAVERTON, Ore. OrCAD Inc. announced this week that it is entering the e-commerce component distribution business, trying to leverage its success in printed circuit board design tools arena.
The company has partnered with the VEBA Electronics group, the world's third-largest electronic component distributor, to maintain a new e-commerce website and on-line design center called activeparts.com.
The new site will go head to head with ChipCenter, Questlink, among other ventures in this sector of e-commerce.
Jim Plymale, vice president of marketing at OrCAD, believes OrCAD has a leg up on the competition in that not only can users research and price parts, but via a free on-line version of OrCAD's schematic entry tool, called eCapture, can download the parts and place them directly into their designs.
"None of our competitors gives engineers the ability to design in components," said Plymale. "What we are doing is taking all the information you would gather at a site like Questlink or ChipCenter and making that actionable inside our EDA tools. You can drag right off of the activeparts.com catalogs onto your design tools and then the components in the design maintain a link back to the components in the Internet catalog."
Plymale said the site will save designers from the time-consuming process of researching and acquiring parts from a distributor and then getting it in a format they need to design in the parts.
Engineers download the eCapture tool from the activeparts.com site, drag components out of the catalog, and when they produce a bill of materials, they can link back from that to the catalog pages. Thus, when an engineer hands a bill of materials to purchasing, the purchasing group will know which components were designed in by the engineer. The engineer can then push a button and order everything on the bill, said Plymale.
"We are cutting several hours out of the process and giving engineers all the information that they need upfront and in the format that they need to design it in," said Plymale. "We maintain a hotlink, so if something changes, you know immediately what has happened."
Plymale said to use the design-in capabilities of the site, users must have eCapture or the latest version of the OrCAD Capture tool. The eCapture tool exports EDIF, which means users of tools from vendors such as Cadence, Mentor, Zuken-Redac can also use the site.
Plymale said Activeparts catalog currently contains 500,000 parts from 600 manufacturers, but that only those parts offered by VEBA currently have the eCapture linking capabilities. He said OrCAD has dedicated at least 70 s engineers in its group in India to building up the activeparts catalog, creating models for those parts.
VEBA will also offer activeparts.com AE support services.
"When you get these new parts from companies like Level 1 and PMC Sierra, you need some help from the application engineers and these guys in VEBA have it," said Plymale.
VEBA's member companies include four distribution groups: Wyle, EBV Elektronik, and the Memec companies for semiconductors. It also includes RK Systems for computer products and ATLAS Services, which provides logistics support and value-added services to the group's semiconductor distributors.
He said the companies plan to add 100,000 components to the catalog each month and plan to offer a "board in the box" tracking service, in which activeparts.com will track down parts not shown or offered via its site.
He said OrCAD has hired consulting firm Arthur Andersen to help out with developing OrCAD's infrastructure and refine the strategy for its e-business.
Plymel said OrCAD expects to draw revenues from multiple sources in the venture: from expanded sales of its tool suite, from commissions it gathers for each component transaction, and from advertising/links posted on the site.
The company added plug-ins to activeparts.com in the free version 9.1 upgrade of its PCB and FPGA design software.
Anyone will be able to download eCapture and use activeparts.com starting in July. Version 9.1 will ship on June 21.