Footprints: A Distributor’s Perspective


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No issue on footprints and library management would be complete without input from a component distributor. I recently interviewed Geof Lipman of Octopart; as director of operations for part data, he’s one of the brains behind the entire site. Geof explains how Octopart functions and manages millions of component data points, and he also discusses the current landscape of electronic components.

Andy Shaughnessy: Geof, give us a quick background on how Octopart operates.

Geof Lipman: Absolutely. We aggregate and curate data about electronic components from hundreds of distributors and thousands of component manufacturers. We use a combination of approaches to acquire data. Some of our intake is highly automated, which results in us having the most comprehensive and up-to-date marketplace information in the industry. 

Other data types need to be evaluated, and classified or normalized. ECAD data like footprints, 3D models and schematic symbols need to be built. We have teams of electrical engineers who ensure the quality and completeness of these types of data. We provide ECAD models for over 1 million parts, supporting multiple popular formats, footprints, schematic symbols, and 3D models.

Shaughnessy: What sort of data do you provide your customers when they search for a component?

Lipman: Broadly speaking, we supply marketplace data, lifecycle status, datasheets and other manufacturers’ documents, compliance data, technical specifications, free ECAD models, similar parts, and alternate names and MPNs for about 40 million parts.

For instance, marketplace data provides customers with answers to these questions: How much does it cost? What are the price breaks for quantity? How many are in stock? Who has the stock? What is the current typical lead time? We provide a “freshness indicator” so that our customers can see how long ago this marketplace data was updated.

The lifecycle status information tells you if the part you are specifying is likely to be hard to get or obsolete when you go into production. We provide a “freshness indicator” here too, so that our customers can see how long ago the lifecycle data was updated.

We provide two “flavors” of lifecycle status: The “Manufacturer Lifecycle Status” is exactly what the manufacturer says—no more, no less; and the “Lifecycle Status” is a composite spec summarizing all the lifecycle data that we have on a part. This could be from both the manufacturer and several distributors, for example.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the February 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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