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How to Vet an Oscillator Manufacturer

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Learn the Differences Between Superior Quality Engineering and Its Imitators

When you’re in the middle of the design process for an electronic component that requires an oscillator as a timing solution, you begin to recognize that there’s far more product on the market than you ever realized. The Internet makes it easy for global manufacturers to connect with you wherever you are, and it seems like you could spend days trying to determine the source of the distributor’s products.

As you search, you may discover manufacturers or distributors whose price is extremely low. You also may notice that a company with a fairly disorganized, poorly designed website claims to have products from a leading manufacturer. If this is the case, you may be working with a deceptive company. The chances are high that you’ll run into deception – the International Chamber of Commerce suggests that the global trade of counterfeit products amounts to $1 trillion dollars.

There are several different deceptive practices that these lesser manufacturers of quartz crystal oscillators try on unsuspecting engineers to make it seem like their products are genuine articles.

Three main practices include:

  • Their price is lower because they are using components that don’t have the longevity of current technology that’s in a robust manufacturer’s inventory.
  • They copy the logo and product markings from a superior company but aren’t actually selling brand-certified products.
  • They’re not manufacturers at all – they are trying to resell products that are authentically made, but you lose the true value of the product because they aren’t able to quickly connect you with the manufacturer’s engineering support team when needed. You’re on your own while this resell company pockets the cash.

How Do You Know If You’re Working with an Authentic, Trustworthy Oscillator Manufacturer

It’s clear to see the downsides of working with a deceptive manufacturer. Further, these companies may eventually come under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and when you return to find their products again – they’ll be gone.

Of course, it is understandable that an engineer might be tempted by counterfeit products. Engineers are under pressure to deliver products as cheaply and often as possible. This certainly makes a quick purchase seem like it’s worth the risk. This is why deceptive manufacturers exist. They believe you’ll spring for a lower price to keep your costs down and productivity up.

Keep in mind, however, that you get what you pay for in the end. If you ship off your applications and they don’t end up working well, it’s unlikely that you’ll earn the same contract next year.

Besides, excellent manufacturers can deliver inexpensive products with quick lead times – you just have to know where to look. The following signs can serve as a checklist to help you vet an excellent manufacturer.

Signs you’re working with a superior crystal oscillator manufacturer:

  • The manufacturer has a list of their distributors and sales representatives, so when you work with the distributor you can verify their authenticity.
  • The manufacturer’s distributors have a global presence.
  • They have a wide variety of resources dedicated to understanding their products at a technical level.
  • They include a parametric search tool on their website that allows you to generate a curated list of requirements for the oscillator you need.
  • They offer a wide range of crystal oscillators including TCXOs, OCXOs, VCXOs, AEC-Q200-certified timing solutions, real-time clocks, and even ruggedized crystals that have already endured strict testing.
  • They’ve been in the business for enough time to have weathered economic downturns, as well as major industry changes. (Two to three decades make the most sense, as the company would have experienced both the 2008 Great Recession and the emergence of smart technology and IoT (Internet of Things) devices).
  • They offer free engineering support services to help engineers integrate their products.
  • Testimonials and reviews from industry partners provide credibility, not suspicion.

Stick with a Superior Manufacturer and Reap the Benefits

As you work your way through this list, you’ll be able to get a sense of whether the manufacturer you’re working with can truly meet your needs, so you can continue to successfully engineer your timing-based application.

The benefits of following this checklist can include:

  • Accessibility: Global distribution means easy access to excellent products, wherever you need them.
  • Education: If the manufacturer provides educational resources and engineering support, you won’t be left in the dark when you need troubleshooting or engineering support.
  • Experience: A manufacturing team that has weathered many significant changes, both economic and technological, has the experience and foresight to continue providing the products you need – and the ones you haven’t even sketched on a napkin yet – well into the future.
  • Depth: Manufacturers with a wide variety of crystal oscillators are more likely to have a product available that matches your use case.

You should have a good sense of what differentiates a strong manufacturer from the rest. Remember that while it may be tempting to go with an inferior product at a lower cost – or even accidentally trust a manufacturer that claims to be something they’re not – in the long run, the best business practice is to go with a company that cultivates reliability, helpfulness, and trust. This is what success is made of, and these are the partners with whom you should align your business.

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