Q1. Flip Electronics is a relatively new company on the block. How did the company form, and did you identify a growth potential opportunity? If so, what was it?
Historically, end of life (EOL) and obsolescence of semiconductor products challenge the supply chain at every step of the process. Most procurers exhaust their franchise distributor’s OEMs and then are often forced to look at the “gray” market when their product’s components become obsolete. There are many issues that arise from purchasing from a non-authorized, non-traceable source, such as date code challenges, counterfeit and quality assurances. The company was formed to solve the problem of getting franchise stock for EOL and obsolete components.
Q2. What makes Flip Electronics a unique distributor / solution provider compared to others?
Most distributors focus on new design wins and supply chain programs for their customers. Flip has a unique business model. Flip’s focus is on those tough-to-get parts that may have been discontinued and are not marketed actively anymore. These parts are just as critical to getting a product built as today’s newest technologies. Flip fills the gap between traditional franchise distribution and the “gray” market, with established “authorized” lines with original component manufacturers. Component manufacturers benefit by being able to have a partner (Flip) that can provide service to customers they were previously not able to service. Our customers benefit by being able to avoid the “gray” market and procure authorized material.
Q3. Can you provide a few supply chain situations where Flip Electronics ensured production line continuation, especially in extreme situations?
Oftentimes, Flip sees demand requests from several companies for similar devices or product lines that have been obsoleted. Last year, Flip used this information to “restart” a product line for a run of this product. Flip made the up-front investment, including NRE charges, and was able to service and support several Mil-Aero customers. These customers could not have made this investment based solely on their usages.
Q4. Is Flip Electronics serving electronics purchasing professionals primarily in North America or do you have an overseas presence?
The majority of our business is based in North America; however, we are servicing supply chain challenges both in EMEA and APAC as well. In today’s marketplace, many customers have multi-region manufacturing strategies, and Flip is equipped to deliver wherever this product is needed.
Q5. Does Flip Electronics specialize more toward obsolescence preventative management or more toward providing clients options at the latter stages?
Our clients actually engage with us in both stages. It is very difficult for companies to forecast how much product they should buy accurately in the event of an EOL notification from a semiconductor manufacturer. Additionally, the semiconductor manufacturer builds for many customers and oftentimes has excess product that it wants to clear from their factories. Flip invests in this type of product and understands the markets that this product is supporting. In the latter stages, Flip can invest in product runs that an individual customer cannot.
Q6. What certifications or trade associations do you belong to?
We take a methodical approach to quality and our internal processes. Currently, Flip is ISO 9001:2015 certified and AS9120:2016 certified. Also, our quality management system is ANSI/ESD-S20.20-2014 certified. We’re pleased to announce that we are also an ECIA member.
Q7. What bumps in the road do you envisage in the electronics supply chain that will potentially impact readers in late 2019 / 2020?
Currently, there is a surplus of product and ample availability in most semiconductor technologies. This is always subject to change, as we all know. There are many people who are closely watching the various trade talks going on between the United States and China, as well as Korea and Japan. Significant changes in trade relations can affect supply dynamics. Additionally, there continues to be a lot of consolidation in the industry. Every time this happens, product lines get trimmed and pruned, and that leads to planning for ways to ensure a stable supply chain.
Q8. Finally, what advice would you give to ESNA’s readers facing obsolescence and EOL situations? We advise everyone within the supply chain to understand your BOM and the potential product challenges that may arise. Always avoid the “gray” market to ensure quality and original components. As a part of your overall supply chain strategy, have a partnership with a company like Flip Electronics. You need a partner who specializes in understanding this market and is fully “authorized” by some of the top semiconductor manufacturers in the business to distribute their product offerings that are being targeted for discontinuation or on the EOL plan.