PHOENIX In a nonexclusive deal, distributor Avnet Inc. has agreed to provide business data that will augment the Web-based design tools of SpinCircuit Inc. and enable engineers to access pricing and availability information from the SpinCircuit Web site. Avnet also took an undisclosed minority position in SpinCircuit as part of the deal.
SpinCircuit had earlier provided only technical information online, aimed primarily at pc-board designers. The addition of Avnet's business-related data means that engineers will be better equipped to gauge the impact of pricing and, perhaps more importantly, avoid choosing components that are near the end of their life cycle, the companies said.
"Picking products that are reasonably well used so customers don't design boards that become obsolete is a recurring issue," said Greg Monte, senior vice president for Internet Business Development at Avnet.
While distributors currently offer pricing and availability data, SpinCircuit executives said the combination of this information into a single tool will help engineers retrieve and view the data more quickly and more easily than before.
"What we're offering is in one fell swoop engineers can get technical data and information that has not been available at the point of component placement," said Pat Guerra, chief executive officer at SpinCircuit. "Without this, people would have to leave their design tools and hunt through a bunch of Web sites for this data. Studies we have done show that as much as 30 percent of an engineer's time is wasted hunting for information."
As product life cycles shorten and pricing competition intensifies, having a broader range of data available early in the design cycle will enable engineers to do more comparisons at various stages of design. The additional information will also help accommodate the trend toward design for manufacturability.
"Whether an item is widely used or little used has a big impact down the line, since it may be nearing the end of its life," Avnet's Monte said. "In a clear manner, engineers can identify parts that may be difficult to source in the market during the lifetime of their product. Another thing engineers can do with this is to build a bill of materials in a spreadsheet format so they can understand the total cost."
As part of the agreement, Avnet and SpinCircuit are broadening the level of design assistance they provide. Monte said a support desk will provide continuous answers on products in the Avnet portfolio.
SpinCircuit is presently negotiating with other distributors and said it expects to announce an agreement with another leading company later this year. That will give engineers pricing and availability information for components that Avnet does not carry, Guerra noted. Distribution portfolios will be added to SpinCircuit's design symbols as agreements are finalized, Guerra said.
Other SpinCircuit investors include Cadence Design Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Flextronics International Ltd.