Just the ticket

Just the ticketAfter an exhaustive search for an independent UK distributor with a solid background in passives, Anglia Components ‘fitted the bill exactly’ for SGS-Thomson Microelectronics as Paul Gregg reports. When SGS-Thomson Microlectronics (STM) was looking for an independent UK distributor to carry its line of discrete semiconductors, it wanted more than just a company carrying non-competing lines. STM was searching for someone with a solid background in passives. After an exhaustive search a deal was finally signed in February with Cambridgeshire-based Anglia. “Against the background of globalisation of distributors, there is a need for distribution channels that are committed to satisfying both specialist and local needs,” said STM’s sales and marketing director for distribution in Northern Europe, Alfio Grasso. “Anglia fits the bill exactly.” Anglia is a stocking agent and importer of passive components, electro-mechanical devices and discrete semiconductors, such as diodes, LEDs and bridge rectifiers. Pursuit of an independent business philosophy has paid big dividends over the past 25 years and resulted in a turnover of more than ?19m. The firm grew its business by bringing passive component products from south east Asian suppliers to the UKmarket. On top of that it has added some impressive franchise names to its product portfolio – Eurohm, Murata, Redpoint Thermalloy, Bussmann, etc. The deal with STM represents a further expansion of the business into the semiconductor market. “For example, with Redpoint Thermalloy heatsinks, this deal enables us to further promote that particular product line, especially when it comes to kitting,” said Anglia’s managing director Steve Rawlins. Growth in the last year alone was 13 per cent, which ran against an industry trend of falling turnover, says the company. This is reflected in overall AFDEC figures of -1.4 per cent. The company’s sales are up 18 per cent on last year, to stand at?23m for the current year. Founder and CEO, Bill Ingram said that he intends carrying forward the winning strategy into the future. “The company will continue in private hands,” he said. “As part of a large conglomerate, you have to produce ‘X’ amount of profit each year and these funds could easily go out of the business.” The firm’s approach is to continue developing product offerings that match the needs of it’s OEM customers. In the case of resistors this has resulted in selling ?4m worth of leaded resistors every day. In fact, Anglia claims to have captured 20 per cent of the leaded resistor market in the UK. Because of the volumes of passives carried, the firm is in a position to offer extremely competitive prices to its customers, with some parts often costing less than 1p each. And to help speed up ordering and dispatching, customers are linked to Anglia via EDI. Components are despatched to customers from a 120,000 square feet automated warehouse facility at Wisbech. In order to ensure that there is no breakdown in the service, the site can be run from a standby power generator in the event of a local electricity failure. Imported components that are waiting for consideration for possible inclusion in the Anglia portfolio are matched against specific customer needs and best manufacturing practice. Then they are subject to full performance and life testing. Exhaustive evaluation of published data sheets and visits to manufacturing sites eliminate 50 to 60 per cent of possible products. Technical screening eliminates a further 30 per cent. Only ten per cent of the 3,000 products investigated each year survive the complete evaluation process, which takes around 18 months. In-house laboratories staff not only analyse datasheet characteristics, they put them to the test also. For example, elevated temperature life tests identify electrolytic capacitor designs that could give long term leakage or drift problems. And relays are test on special test beds to see if they do exceed their rated life. Calibrated measuring systems augment the computer controlled life tests. The custom-made test rigs and a versatile, high-current “arbitrary waveform” load/source are used to duplicate real circuit conditions for relays and capacitors. In total, more than ?0.5m has been invested in this equipment, and ten per cent of the Anglia staff are employed on this work. The company’s product guide gives details the range, and contains a selection assistance to help pinpoint the most suitable device. It is not only microprocessors that need a detailed understanding for reliable design. Even a simple bridge rectifier and capacitive filter circuit has large surge and peak currents that can easily exceed simplistically derived ratings, specially when using modern thyristor or switch-mode systems. Whether it is mechanical or electrical measurements, or life predictions under specific operating conditions, the company looks beyond the datasheet. In the case of high volume applications, the thorough approach to pre-assembly testing can add extra profitability to manufacturing by avoiding unnecessary over- design or dangerous under specification.
Rawlins said: “We believe that distribution is polarising into a limited number of global players together with more dynamic, local organisations that are closer to each customer’s current and future needs. The growth of Anglia proves this to be the case.”

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