Electronic Component Lead Times Are Affecting PCBA Schedules

Are electronic component lead times pushing out your Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) schedules?

A common question I see in my Inbox these days is, “What is NPI’s read on the component lead time situation?” We have been seeing more and more of our customers being bitten by component shortages in electronic distribution. The most frustrating part about these shortages is they are often common passive components; resistors and capacitors are now the gating factors rather than the usual long-lead field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) from Xilinx or Altera, or 38999 connectors from Amphenol or Air Electro, Inc.

The situation with component lead times does not seem to be improving, either, as double ordering of electronic components in distribution is at an all-time high, and growth across all sectors has been constant, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Electric Vehicle (EV) vertical markets. All things considered, component suppliers are reluctant to add capacity for fear of holding excess inventory from a bullwhip effect in the distribution channel.

The following are a few supply chain risk mitigation strategies that NPI Services recommends:

  1. Purchase the prototype, pilot run, and production quantities while in the design stage. If you can not get advance approval to buy all of the components on the Bill of Material (BOM), then focus on the 20% BOM components that have the greatest lead-time risk. Purchasing these in one lot will also reduce costs due to economies of scale.
  2. Add at least two to three alternate manufacturer part numbers for each internal part number on the BOM, wherever possible.
  3. Subscribe to an Electronic Components Database service such as Silicon Expert: https://www.siliconexpert.com/. Services such as Silicon Expert help provide real-time demand and inventory information so you can determine which manufacturer part numbers on your BOM are at risk for lead-time issues or obsolescence – End of Life (EOL) or Last Time Buy (LTB) status.
  4. Contact Sales Representatives, Franchised Distributors, and Manufacturers for samples to help expedite manufacturing printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) prototypes.
  5. Contact non-franchised distribution/brokers/grey market for excess inventory. Make sure to use a trusted source and to evaluate the risk of counterfeit components. NPI Services requires written authorization from any customer prior to purchasing from sources other than franchised distribution.
  6. Contact franchised distributors (Avnet, Arrow, Digi-Key, Future, Mouser, TTI, Heilind, etc.) to find out if they have existing orders in-process for lead time parts. You may want to double order parts with multiple distributors in case one distributor receives an existing order first.
  7. Last but not least, if you are really in a pinch, you can remove long-lead components from non-functioning boards in the lab to get you through the first prototype runs of your PCBAs. NPI can help with the PCBA rework of removing and replacing parts.


NPI Services, Inc. is just a phone call or email away to help resolve your issues with electronic component lead times. With 20 years of relationships in the electronic supply chain, NPI can help expedite lead-time issues, find form-fit-function cross references/multi-sourcing, and ensure your PCBAs are on schedule. Call NPI today for all of your Electronic Manufacturing Services requirements.