How Development and Distribution Work Together

Interview with Markus Bauer, Supplier Development Manager, EBV Elektronik

As Avnet Embedded has its own development and manufacturing facilities, it occupies a unique position within the Avnet group. It is now being integrated more tightly into the Avnet family by working together with EBV Elektronik, while EBV is able to expand Avnet Embedded’s distribution reach. In an exclusive interview with Markt & Technik, Markus Bauer illustrates the advantages this will bring to both sides.

Mr. Bauer, EBV Elektronik has started selling Avnet Embedded products with immediate effect. Did this not happen before with what was Avnet Integrated? What’s new about the strategy?

Markus Bauer: Up to now, Avnet Embedded – which used to be called Avnet Integrated – worked independently of the other parts of the group. We’re currently in the process of integrating this embedded specialist – along with all its skills – into the group. That way, all of the business units will have access to Avnet Embedded products and services. This also means that Avnet Embedded can access EBV Elektronik’s sales channels, starting right away.

Another point is that our customers want to be able to create and implement increasingly complex embedded designs. At EBV Elektronik, we weren’t always able to respond to these requests. Our Avnet Embedded developers adapt to these needs quickly, ensuring a shorter time to market. In addition, we’re now able to support a range of different applications – from standard modules to customer- specific designs.

How does EBV Elektronik benefit from this reorientation?

At EBV Elektronik, we’re able to address a significantly broader customer base. Although there are a few overlaps in the product portfolio, such as processors, our ability to meet specialised customer requests used to be very limited as we were purely a semiconductor supplier. From now on, we’re able to leverage a lot of synergies, such as our FAEs who can even carry out first-level support.

What consequences does this have for EBV Elektronik’s extensive portfolio?

One example is that EBV hasn’t previously had any x86 technology offerings. We’re now able to provide these with Avnet Embedded modules. Another thing worth mentioning is display technology, which we’re getting from Avnet now. Previously, we were able to offer displays from various suppliers but the new portfolio opens up completely new application areas. These include the PCAP touch segment, where we can now respond to specialised customer needs.

Does this mean you’ll be focusing more on customer-specific developments?

Yes, because we can now develop customised applications whenever required, based on our standard modules. For example, we’re creating our own PCB layouts, designed-in CPUs and memory, and adapting peripherals. In addition, we could conceivably use CPUs that we haven’t had in our linecard up to now. However, customers should expect longer development times in those cases – we’re significantly faster when adapting existing designs.

Is that the case for software too? You recently added a specialist company to the group with the Witekio acquisition.

Witekio is very application-oriented – the company’s roots are in board support packages. But the staff there also develop GUIs, application software and AI applications. In addition to Witekio, we also acquired the software specialist Softweb with about 500 developers. Its staff are very well-versed in areas like IoT and data mining. So in software development, we already cover a very broad area ourselves.

Supply bottlenecks are currently making life difficult for every company in the electronics industry. How are you dealing with these challenges?

We’re in a fairly comfortable situation at the moment. Our business relationships are mostly very long- term. That means we can plan for our customers’ requirements over a very lengthy timeframe. We can easily meet the needs of customers who let us know their requirements early on, but meeting short-term needs is still difficult. Like others, we also don’t always receive all the components we need but we do benefit from the long-term nature of our business relationships.

Have you had any thoughts about re-establishing local supply chains – or even manufacturing?

We’ve already been doing that for a long time now, as we develop and manufacture in Stutensee and Freiburg. Many other actors in the market outsourced their production years ago, while we still have both production and logistics under our own control. That means we’re not affected by the punitive duties involved when manufacturing in China. We also have another production facility in Malta. The next step is that we’re undertaking a complete renovation of our factory in Freiburg and extending the logistics area. Our new design centre in Deggendorf also helps us win orders.

The situation is different if we’re talking about semiconductors and components. There’s no point in us making these ourselves, but we already benefit from very broad-based production options. For example, we’re currently trying to source PCBs in Europe. Our experts are continually working on ways to stabilise the supply chains.

How do you see price increases and how do you manage to counter them?

We hope prices will become more stable, but I’m not too sure when that will happen. One advantage with Avnet Embedded is that we can offer a broad mix of products. In the past we benefited from positive effects like lower prices for certain components, such as cheaper memory modules. That did a lot to balance out higher prices for processors. We also have additional efficiency improvements and potential savings on transport costs by using Avnet’s logistics.

Thank you for the interview, Mr. Bauer.

Quote: “With our development and production facilities in Germany, we already have local supply chains.”