Parent page: More about Components and Libraries
Altium Designer facilitates the linking of your design components to real-world parts, enabling you to have access to live supplier data as you design. Through direct connection to Altium's component data web services, you are able to search for manufacturer parts and select from the supported suppliers that offer those parts. This 'live' supplier data can then be integrated within the design process – at the library design level, during the design and at design release time. In short, this feature allows supplier databases to be accessed from within Altium Designer by searching for and selecting manufacturer design components.
For any given manufacturer part and linked Supplier data found through a search, its parameters, data sheet links, pricing, and stock information can also be imported as parameters of a target library component (SchLib, DbLib, SVNDbLib), or placed component on a schematic sheet. In addition, the data for new components can be created in a target library directly from a selected manufacturer component.
The linked part and supplier data will also be included, or can be added, at design release time in a Bill of Materials – especially useful from a project costing and procurement perspective.
This document takes a look at linking to supplier data for component management methodologies that utilize SchLib, DbLib, or SVNDbLib as their 'backbone' for component storage. If you are using an Altium server – and server-based Managed Components – a similar, yet distinctly separate and more powerful link between design component and supply chain is realized through the notion of Part Choices.
► See Part Source Configuration for more information on the centralized configuration of Suppliers as part of an Altium Concord Pro installation.
The cornerstone of this feature to access live supplier data, is the Altium Parts Provider extension. This extension delivers an aggregate supplier data service that provides access to live component information from a comprehensive range of parts suppliers.
The Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog is command-central for configuring which Suppliers will be available when searching for parts data, along with other options relating to linking to Supplier data.
When the Altium Parts Provider extension is installed, use the Altium Parts Options section of the page to configure the service to suit your needs.
Options include the following:
The primary interface to available manufacturer parts and their associated live supplier data is the Manufacturer Part Search panel. Featuring sophisticated part search and location features based on categories and parametric filtering, the panel also functions as a direct portal to real-world parts offered by the various Suppliers you have enabled for the feature. Access this panel by selecting select View » Panels » Manufacturer Part Search from the main menu, or the Manufacturer Part Search option from the button menu at the lower right of the main screen.
As illustrated, the panel is essentially divided into three functional sections:
► See the Manufacturer Part Search page for detailed information on its features and application.
At the heart of the Altium Designer feature to link to Supplier data, is the Supplier Link. This fundamental entity provides the live link between an Altium Designer component and an item vended by an enabled Supplier.
Creation of a Supplier Link involves the automatic addition of two parameters to the target Altium Designer component involved:
n is an integer suffix, used to distinguish between Supplier Items when multiple links are added to the same component.
Creating a link between a design component and supplier data – a Supplier Link – can be achieved by dragging and dropping a supplier entry from the Manufacturer Part Search panel on to a target component, or by using an available Add Supplier Link command. The potential linking options will depend on the type of component, as outlined in the below sections.
With the source Schematic Library document open as the active document, there are three areas on which to 'drop' the Supplier Item from the Manufacturer Part Search panel to create the link:
As alternatives to the drag and drop method, the link also can be added by:
With the DbLib/SVNDbLib document open as the active document, a Supplier Link can be added to a database component by:
In all cases, the required
Supplier n and
Supplier Part Number n parameters are added to the database table.
With the source schematic document open as the active document, a Supplier Link can be added to a placed component by:
In all cases the required
Supplier n and
Supplier Part Number n parameters are added to the component.
Where the Add Supplier Links dialog is used for locating and selecting suitable component supplier data, the software automatically performs a manufacturer part search based on parameter data extracted from the target component. This is shown in the examples above, where the component's Comment value is automatically applied as a search keyword expression.
The search entry used by the software is defined in the Suggested Keywords region on the Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog, which allows the applied search expression to be configured to suit your component library structure. You have full control over which parameters of parts are used as search keywords, and in what order.
In the dialog's Suggested Keywords region, default priority assignments (with highest priority at the top of the list) mean that, by default, the Comment value will be used as the search criteria first. If the source component has no comment, then the next attempt uses its Description value. If this is also blank, the component's Name will be used.
You can include your own keyword parameters as required by clicking the Add button. This will add a new parameter entry (with default name Parameter Name) to the bottom of the list (and therefore assigning it lowest priority), with the new parameter automatically focused and ready for a name change. To modify the name of an existing parameter, click once on its name field to focus it, then enter the new name as required. Alternatively, select a parameter by clicking on its associated priority field, then click the Edit button.
Use the Move Up or Move Down buttons to shift the currently selected parameter up or down in the list respectively – increasing, or decreasing, its assigned Priority accordingly.
For any given Manufacturer Part and Supplier Item found through a search in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, its parameters, datasheet links, pricing, and stock information, can be imported as parameters to a target library component (SchLib, DbLib, SVNDbLib), or a placed component on a schematic sheet. The information is imported through the Add Supplier Link and Parameters to Part option (or ..to <part> when a library component is the target) available from Manufacturer Part and Supplier items in the panel, or on a piecemeal basis, from the Parameters listing in the panel's Details pane.
Prior to importing any component parameters, pricing, or stock information from Supplier Items, you have the opportunity to define name mappings. This is particularly useful where, for example, certain parameters have already been defined for library
components, and those existing parameters have different names to those used by a Supplier in their published data for an item. Rather than importing data into a new/separate parameter, the data can be imported into the existing parameter – provided
the name mapping has been setup to do so. Mapping a supplier Resistance parameter to a target
Value parameter is one example.
When importing a parameter, the software will look to these options to see if that parameter has a defined mapping, as specified by the Imported Parameter Name field. If this field is blank, or the parameter is not listed, it will be imported using the parameter name used by the Supplier. If this field has a value, then data will be imported into a new or existing parameter with that name. In the case of the latter, the data will overwrite any existing data – the parameter's value will be updated. No existing parameter will be removed/deleted.
The Supplier Link options apply when creating a new library component from a Supplier Item, or when adding a Supplier Link and parameters simultaneously. For each listed parameter, the designer
can choose to exclude it from import and also define whether a number suffix is to be used, which is useful if importing parameters from multiple Supplier Items to the same Altium Designer component. The suffix identifies a parameter as belonging
to a particular Supplier Link – say, the imported parameter
Stock 1 would have been sourced from
Supplier 1. Use the Visible option to specify whether or not the imported parameter is displayed in the design
The easiest and most comprehensive way to import data from a manufacturer part and supplier source to a local component is through the Manufacturer Part Search panel's Add Supplier Link and Parameters To feature.
The command is applied in the same manner as the Add Supplier Link To command outlined above, but will add all available parameters, datasheet links, pricing, and stock information from a Manufacturer Part and Supplier Item, along with a Supplier Link to that item, all in the one step.
The example images below demonstrate the function for a Schematic Library component, where the command will add component and supplier data to the entry selected in the SCH Library panel. In this case, the library component has no initial parameter entries, as shown in the Properties panel.
To import all data to the selected component, locate a suitable component entry in the Manufacturer Part Search panel and select the Add Supplier Link And Parameters To <part> option from a Supplier cell's right click menu.
As shown in the Properties panel, the target component is then populated with all Manufacturer Part and Supplier parameters, including the current
Stock information. Available datasheets are imported
also, as found in the Properties panel Links region under the General tab.
Adding Supplier Link and parameter data to a database component or a placed component involves the same essential process – selecting the target component and invoking the Add Supplier Link And Parameters To command in the Manufacturer Part Search panel.
Specified manufacturer/supplier Parameters can be imported from the Manufacturer Part Search panel to a library or placed component using the Add Parameter(s) To command, which is available from the panel's Details pane – opened from the button.
To do so, select a Manufacturer part or one of its Supplier sub entries in the panel's search results list, and then the desired Parameter entries in the panel's Details pane. Right click on a selected (highlighted) Parameter entry, and choose the Add Parameter(s) To command option to propagate the parameters to the target component.
Notable points regarding the propagation of parameter-value pairs are:
Voltage Ratingin the above example images.
Materialin above image.
Capacitanceis mapped to
Value, then the latter parameter will be added as a capacitance value to the target component –
Pricing, are available in the Details pane of the Manufacturer Part Search panel only when a Supplier cell (rather than the Manufacturer part) is selected as the source.
In the same way as other parameters, added Supplier data will update existing Supplier parameters in the target component. The supplier data suffix remains at
1 and subsequent additions do not increment the suffix value,
unlike when using the Add Supplier Link And Parameters To options from the component/supplier source entry, where data from multiple suppliers can be added (as outlined in the above sections).
Along with the features covered above for adding supplier and parameter data to existing library items, you can also create a new library item by importing data from the Manufacturer Part Search panel to a target library. The
process adds all available data to the new component, which adopts the source
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) as the value for its component
Name. The new component will require the addition of component Symbol and Footprint
models to become a fully usable library component.
To perform the import, open the target Schematic or database library, select the desired Manufacturer part or one of its Supplier entries in the Manufacturer Part Search panel and then the Import Into command from its right click context menu:
The Supplier Links currently defined for a library component, or placed component on a schematic sheet, can be viewed and edited using the Supplier Links for dialog. To access this dialog:
All currently defined Supplier Links for a schematic library component also can be viewed and edited directly from the SCH Library panel. The defined Supplier Links for the selected component are shown in the panel's Supplier Links region, while detailed data for a selected Supplier Link is displayed in the Supplier Information region of the panel.
To add an additional Supplier Link, click on the button in the Supplier Links region. The Add Supplier Links dialog will open, which can be used to search for and add a link to the required item. Use the button to remove the selected Supplier Link from the library component.
Suppliers will typically have different pricing based on the quantity of an item to be purchased from them. The quantity levels required to access increasingly reduced unit price points differ not only between different suppliers, but also from item to item for the same supplier. When selecting Manufacturer part Supplier data in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, a summary of this information is available in a part Supplier cell by selecting the Show more link. This allows you to make an informed pricing (and stock) decision when choosing a Supplier Link, based on the current data.
Supplier prices and stock levels vary. Bear in mind that there is a delay in updating the information from Suppliers into the database of the aggregator service delivered by the Altium Parts Provider. Hover the mouse over the symbol in a Supplier data cell to see when the information was last updated.
Supplier links added to a library component offer detailed pricing-quantity information in the Supplier Information region of the SCH Library panel, where the information applies to the supplier entry selected in the panel's Supplier Links region. By changing the entry in the Order Quantity field, the displayed pricing in the Unit Price column will change in response to the supplier-specified quantity pricing levels shown in the Supplier Information region.
Different Suppliers operate in different, often multiple, regions of the world and as such, it is common to see product pricing reported in different currencies. Altium Designer provides the capability to convert the display of such pricing information into one of a number of supported currencies.
To quickly display all pricing information in a single currency in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, select the required currency from the Currency drop-down menu available from the panel's button. To have pricing displayed in the default currency used by a Supplier, choose the menu's None entry.
To set the currency usage preferences in Altium Designer, enable/disable currencies and set their priority on the Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog.
► See Supplier Preferences above for more information.
Supplier data links added to components in a design, or the links inherent in a component placed from a library, are saved with the design and available for inclusion in a Bill of Materials (BOM).
At the simplest level, component supplier links are available in a BOM Report generated from the project source. Select Reports » Bill of Materials to open the Bill of Materials for Project dialog, which can be configured for your needs and generated in a variety of formats (Excel, PDF, HTML etc). The BOM Report is also available for inclusion as a Report Output in a project Output Job.
► See BOM Configuration in the Report Manager for detailed information.
The far more advanced, and recommended, approach to managing manufacturer and supplier links in a project Bill of Materials is to include an ActiveBOM document in your project – File » New » ActiveBOM Document. Note that the full benefits of this approach are realized when using server-based Managed Components.
► See BOM Management with ActiveBOM for detailed information.
ActiveBOM uses component data Solutions to add a comprehensive set of live parts information, such as manufacturer part details (including Lifecycle status), and supplier pricing and stock level. Existing component Supplier Links, previously added at the library or schematic document level, are automatically converted to ActiveBOM Solutions.
The next step up from BOM Solutions derived from existing Supplier Links is to add new component Solutions within the ActiveBOM interface. ActiveBOM's native, manufacturer-centric Solutions provide advanced data mapping between the design component, a manufacturer part and all the suitable Suppliers of that part. The real-time Solution data is available right through the design process and becomes the source for all BOM-type outputs.
Use the Create/Edit Manufacturer Links option from the button menu to add an ActiveBOM Solution to the currently selected component entry. Select the button in the following Edit Manufacturer Links dialog, and then a suitable manufacturer component entry in the Add Part Choices dialog. When confirmed (OK), this part link is added as a new entry in the Edit Manufacturer Links dialog.
After confirming the addition in the dialog () the ActiveBOM Solution is added to the BOM component entry. Note that the Solution in this case includes the full list of Supplier options, where the selected option (colored green) is that designated as the 'Best' Supplier Solution for the manufacturer part.
Use the associated Properties panel to configure the ActiveBOM features, such as the applied Currency, Manufacturer link data source, visible data columns, BOM Item groupings, BOM check warnings, etc.
► See BOM Management with ActiveBOM for more information.