The premise behind Vigilant, which is part of the Paragon Electronics Group, is to deliver the industry’s highest level of confidence in sourced parts. Sister company, Paragon Electronic Components Plc, is well known for its procurement and kitting expertise, so the formation of an independent distributor within the group was a very logical complementary business.
With the prevalence of counterfeit components at an all-time high, the mandate at Vigilant was a total focus on quality, facilitated by an extensive set of testing tools, resources, expertise and procedures. The unique aspects of the Vigilant business model have been extremely well received by the market and have led to the exceptional growth. The team at Vigilant can and will source long lead-time and hard-to-find components, drawing on supplier partners around the world developed thanks to decades of supply chain experience. But, significantly, procurement is only part of the Vigilant service. The company has opened its exhaustive test resources and validation services offering these to any organisation wishing to verify its own procured parts.
“To be truly independent, even from other businesses within the group, meant we had to offer more than simply procurement and a paper-based guarantee of components being fit for purpose,” explains Vigilant Components’ Business Development Manager Ben Farrer. “Our commitment to deliver components of the highest integrity demanded a focus on component testing and verification. With advanced facilities like our dedicated in-house electronic component test laboratory, which already has in place high resolution microscopes, equipment for solderability, marking permanency and electrical characteristic testing, together with the latest specialist component X-ray equipment, it made sense to provide a service beyond our own walls. The result was surprisingly encouraging, with other distributors and OEMs keen to deploy our service to verify parts they procure to avoid the trap of counterfeits and non-functioning parts.”
Farrer already has a small catalogue of war stories from the first few months of trading. One notable incident concerned a specific part sourced from a highly reputable distributor known to Farrer’s team for almost 20 years. Despite the trusted relationship, routine X-Ray inspection at Vigilant revealed serious problems including damaged lead frames, mis-aligned bond wires, the silicon die in the wrong orientation, and even variations in the silicon die across devices with the same date code. These findings precipitated further tests. The parts passed the acetone and solvent solution tests but signs of sanding on the back of the components along with evidence of solder on the leads were uncovered by microscopic inspection.
“It’s a perfect example of how our business makes a difference,” Farrer claims. “Fortunately for everyone, exhaustive testing is what we’re all about, which makes our extra layer of security critical to maintaining customer confidence. Vigilant offers a great defence for its customers against unscrupulous counterfeiters and the less vigilant grey market importers who can drive up manufacturing costs and even cause line-stops for the unwary. We are all delighted with the response and the fact that we’re playing our part at the forefront of these countermeasures.”