By Dianne Kibbey

The high demand placed on design engineers to; create better, higher efficient and lower cost designs, finds them flocking to element14 to help them bridge these requirements through one easy to use web-based platform

The Challenge for Today’s Electronic Design Engineer

Today’s electronic design engineers face mounting pressure to create smaller, more powerful and less expensive technology to power the growing need for digital products.

Young electronic design engineers are relying on more technology than any generation before them. They have a need for a trustworthy global community to act as an enabler in their ability to both innovate and meet their time critical deadlines. They, like their predecessors, navigate global challenges such as lowering costs, improving time-to-market, complying with complex legislation and delivering environmentally friendly designs.

Until recently, staying at the cutting edge of design has been a challenge for the engineer. While a number of websites exist to gather and collate information, see trends and industry news, most provide the broadest possible coverage to entertain as many engineers as possible. While noteworthy for their efforts to engage the engineering community, this had left the specialised electronic design engineering industry a bit to be desired.

Manufacturer’s sites try to fill this gap but provide little evaluation and comparison across competitors products.. Some engineers take a scholarly approach to electronics engineering with well researched and validated whitepapers submitted by experts but those too are limited in an ability to appeal horizontally across an industry.

Industry Events

It has been suggested that engineers can meet their needs by attending industry symposiums, exhibitions and conferences to stay abreast of the latest industry developments. There is value in being able to congregate, network, hear peers present on the latest achievements and examine breakthroughs in vendor technology; but the reality is that each of these events are commercial businesses, sponsored by vendors and looking to maximise revenues. Engineers are welcome — often feted as the reason for the event — but only as a group that has influence; not as individuals with specific information needs.

The on-line Solution — Combining Community, Collaboration and Commerce:

What was needed was a tool that not only provided electronic design engineers with the information trends and news they wanted, but also a tool that presented this information in a customised format that respects specialisations, and packages the information in a digestible format, with the periodicity of their choice and the ability to purchase those products needed for their design.

This kind of a solution meets one half of the equation for sure: the information needs of the electronic design engineer — but the need for networking and collaboration is still a divide that needed to be bridged.

Now imagine if the same tool also met the networking needs of electronics engineers. Consider a knowledge platform that allowed a convergence of engineers, for a private (or public) exchange of ideas and views, independent evaluation of vendor offerings and an opportunity to bounce off ideas with peers and industry experts!

To meet the needs of today’s design engineer, Premier Farnell has created an independent web-based, collaboration platform to bridge the information divide in the electronic design engineering industry. Not only is it an unmatched resource pool of content and information solutions; it also uses the most cutting edge social networking tools to allow engineers across the world to collaborate, communicate and consult with one another.

The solution is called “element14”, , after silicon’s elemental position on the periodic table, this community was formally launched across the world in June 2009, and was received with great appreciation by the industry, now boasting over 25,000 visitors a week.

element14 provides a vast array of product data, design tools and technology information, ensuring that electronic design engineers have access to necessary information when they need it. A true value added benefit of element14 is the ability to collaborate with like minded engineers about design techniques, or seek new technology developments from experts in the field.

Users have their own unique login, allowing them to customise and personalise their homepage with widgets of the applications they use most.

Google Translate has been incorporated to facilitate even greater interaction and enable users of different languages to converse in real time, breaking down language barriers to help increase the availability of resources for this global community.

Users participate in the community by posting comments, podcasts and videos that can help to drive traffic to their individual page, using referral links to raise awareness about their individual profile, academia, technology development or business.

element14 has become the one and only eCommunity to also provide additional resources and guidance on its comprehensive legislation page to help manufacturers and design engineers to better understand the recent changes made in the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. An informative free RoHS eBook, which addresses the recent recast changes and has a live chat function with global legislative expert Gary Nevison, to help design engineers to demystify and expedite compliance.

element14 further offers customers and suppliers a transactional multi-channel, multi-currency, and a multi-language way to source their product needs, quickly and easily. element14 offers speed and ease of search to access the best product offering for engineers and buyers alike.

Members of the element14 community are able to have private discussions, post private documents and see previews of documents created with Microsoft Office®. These enhancements follow comprehensive user feedback into the features and capabilities that are most important to global electronic design engineers.

Many users have already indicated how they appreciate the opportunity to collaborate and have access to a library of content that allows them to save time and effort. Others enjoy the ability to stay abreast of critical information to keep them at the cutting edge of their industry. While others enjoy the opportunity to share their own independent view on vendor offerings, prices and quality with a broad cross section of peers. For further info visit: http://www.element14.com/community/index.jspa