Altium Designer Documentation

Linking to Supplier Data

Modified by Rob Evans on Oct 23, 2019

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.

Being able to link to Supplier data does not require you to be signed in to your Altium account. Manufacturer part and supplier searching is conducted through Altium's web services. However, when displaying pricing information in alternate currencies, exchange rates for currency conversion are refreshed daily, provided you are signed in to your account.

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.

Supported Suppliers

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 Altium Parts Provider extension.

This extension is enabled by default when installing the software, but in case you opted not to install it, or have inadvertently uninstalled it, it can be found on the Purchased tab of the Extensions & Updates page. Restart Altium Designer once the extension has been successfully downloaded and installed.

You may also have noticed another extension that is installed with a default installation of Altium Designer – Custom Database Parts Provider. This extension provides an interface to any parts database connection that has been setup in an Altium Server, such as a link to a company’s own internal parts database (directly, or via an ODBC or OLE-DB interface). You need to be signed in to an Altium Server to access this component data. As such, it is not functionality available to, or concerned with, the ability to link to Supplier data for file-based component management methodologies.

For more information on the centralized configuration of Suppliers as part of an Altium Concord Pro installation, including setting up an interface to a parts database, see Part Source Configuration.

Supplier Preferences

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.

Configure options relating to the feature to link to Supplier data, as part of your Altium Designer preferences.

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 for configuring Suppliers – when the Altium Parts Provider extension is part of your installation.

Options include the following:

  • Location – enable which geographical regions the parts service will collate parts data from. While many suppliers are multi-regional, if a part is uniquely available in a specific location, it will only be listed if that region is enabled. Drag and drop location entries in the list to set their ordered priority of use.
  • Currency – enable which international currencies will be available for selection when searching for parts and examining results. Drag and drop currency icons in the list to set their ordered priority of use.
  • Supplier – enable which Suppliers to include when performing a supplier data search. Only part results from those Suppliers will be returned. By including more Suppliers for use with the feature, you are able to compare and shop for the best deals on the components required by your design. A Supplier associated with a symbol in the Verified column indicates that the Altium Parts Provider receives data directly from that supplier.
Note that if you are signed in to a Server from Altium Designer, the Altium Parts Options region becomes read-only and adopts those settings defined by the server. This is indicated by the presence of the icon next to the page name in the navigation tree.

Searching for Component Supplier Data

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.

Search for real-world Supplier items through the Manufacturer Part Search panel.

As illustrated, the panel is essentially divided into three functional sections:

  • Component Search, Type and Filtering:
    • In the upper Search field, enter one or more keywords that relate to the component part. The returned results include Supplier Links for each listed manufacturer part.
    • Use the Categories drop down list () to constrain the results to the selected type of component.
    • Check relevant parameter options in the Filters pane on the left (enabled with the icon) to filter the results to components that comply to those parameter values.
All of the above functions may be used in concert to quickly and accurately zero in on the required component parts, and by association, the live Supplier data available for those parts.
  • Search Results:
    • This central region of the panel populates with all manufacturer parts that match the current search, category and filter criteria. The Supply Info column provides a summary of the supply data for each entry, based on its unit Price, minimum order quantity (MOQ) and available supply Stock for the most suitable vendor. The color strip associated with each manufacturer part provides a quick estimate of its Lifecycle status – for example, green indicates that the part is suitable for volume production, whereas a red strip flags a part considered as obsolete.
    • A selected part entry includes a supplier data link in the Manufacturer Part column (for example, 12 SPNs) that opens a tabular list of supplier choices for the manufacturer part. Each cell in that list applies to a particular vendor and provides a snapshot of the current (live) stock level, pricing and supplier part number. See Linking to a Supplier Item below for information how these are applied to design components.
    • The panel's Option settings, available from the  button at the top-right of the panel, configure how the search results data are displayed:
      • Currency menu – The currency used in the panel's pricing information is determined by the currency priority setting in the Data Management – Parts Providers page. To quickly change the panel's current setting, select a different currency from this drop down menu.
      • Exclude Invalid SPNs option – Enable this option to remove the supplier data link in the Manufacturer Part column for entries where the supplier data for that part is unsuitable for use (invalid) – such as when Pricing or Stock information is not available.
      • Part Providers Preferences link – Provides direct access to the Data Management – Parts Providers Preferences page. Only those Suppliers that are enabled in this preferences page will be included in the list of suppliers/vendors for a manufacturer part.
  • Component Details:
    • The panel's Details pane (opened with the button, top right) shows all available data for the selected component, including its parameters, models, datasheets and links to web-based supplier information.
    • The pane also includes download options to view/save the manufacturer part specifications () or to locally save a zip archive of the component itself ().

► See the Manufacturer Part Search page for detailed information on its features and application.

Linking to a Supplier Item

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:

  • Supplier n
  • Supplier Part Number n

...where 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.

Schematic Library component (SchLib)

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:

  • Anywhere within the main editing area of the Schematic Library Editor (ensuring the recipient component is focused).
  • Onto the required component's name, in the Components region of the SCH Library panel.
  • Into the Supplier Links region of the SCH Library panel (ensuring the recipient component is focused).

The drag & drop methods of adding a Supplier Link to a schematic library component. The resulting two parameters – the elements that make the link possible – can be viewed in the Properties panel for the selected component.

As alternatives to the drag and drop method, the link also can be added by:

  • Clicking the button in the Supplier Links region of the SCH Library panel, as shown in the above video. This opens the Add Supplier Links dialog – a modal version of the Manufacturer Part Search panel – with its search term automatically derived from the selected component's Comments parameter. See Search Keywords below for more information on automated searches. The Add Supplier Links dialog also can be accessed by right clicking in the Symbol editor and selecting the Supplier Links option.
  • By choosing the Add Supplier Link To <part> option from a Supplier cell's right click context menu in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, where <part> applies to the currently selected component in the SCH Library panel.

Note that the Add Supplier Link To <part> option also is available when right-clicking on the Manufacturer Part entry rather than a sub Supplier cell for that entry. In this case the supplier data from the highest priority Supplier (first on the list, designated as 'Best') will be added to the target component.

Database/SVN Database Library component (DbLib, SVNDbLib)

With the DbLib/SVNDbLib document open as the active document, a Supplier Link can be added to a database component by:

  • Dropping a Supplier Item from the Manufacturer Part Search panel on to the required component record on the Table Browser tab.
  • Selecting a target component entry in the table and then choosing the Add Supplier Link To <part> option from a Supplier cell's right click context menu in the Manufacturer Part Search panel.
  • Selecting a component entry in the Table Browser and choosing the Edit Supplier Links option from its right-click context menu. In the same way as for a Schematic library, this accesses the the Add Supplier Links dialog, where Supplier information can be searched for and selected for addition.

In all cases, the required Supplier n and Supplier Part Number n parameters are added to the database table.

Demonstrating the addition of a Supplier Link to a component record in a database linked by a DbLib file.

Placed component on a schematic sheet

With the source schematic document open as the active document, a Supplier Link can be added to a placed component by:

  • Dropping a Supplier Item from the Manufacturer Part Search panel on to the schematic symbol of a placed component.
  • Right clicking on a component, choosing the Supplier Links option from the context menu and adding a new entry () in the Supplier Links for <component> dialog. This opens the Add Supplier Links dialog – which automatically adopts the selected component's Comments parameter as a search term – where a Supplier data cell is then selected for addition. See Search Keywords below for more information on automated searches.
  • Choosing the Add Supplier Link To Part option from a Supplier cell's right click context menu in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, and then using the target crosshairs in the schematic editor to select a placed component (or a sequence of components).
Note that the Add Supplier Link To Part option also is available when right-clicking on the Manufacturer Part entry rather than a sub Supplier cell for that entry. In this case the supplier data from the highest priority Supplier (first on the list, designated as 'Best') will be added to the target component.

In all cases the required Supplier n and Supplier Part Number n parameters are added to the component.

Demonstrating the addition of a Supplier Link to a placed component on a schematic sheet.

Tailoring the Search Process – Suggested Keywords

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.

Default suggested keywords that are used when automatically searching for parts in Supplier databases.

In the panel'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.

Click anywhere on the Priority column to effect the name change. You can also press Enter, but be aware that this will commit the change and close the Preferences dialog.

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.

An example user-defined suggested keyword parameter, added and given the top priority.

While the default parameters can be edited, or indeed removed, they can be restored from the drop-down listing associated with a parameter entry.

Importing Data from a Supplier Item

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.

Parameter Import Options

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.

Parameter name mappings are defined as part of the Parameter Import Options, on the Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog.

Define options for imported parameters on the Data Management – Parts Providers page of your Altium Designer preferences.

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 workspace.

By default, several base parameters are defined, which are all enabled for import when creating new components from Supplier Items or importing parameters along with a Supplier Link. With the exception of the Supplier and Supplier Part Number, options for these parameters can be edited, including the specification of an imported name. None of these parameters can be deleted (removed).
When creating a new component from a Supplier Item or importing parameters along with a Supplier Link, if a parameter for that item is not listed it will be imported by default. To prevent a particular parameter from being imported, it must be explicitly excluded by adding an entry to the list – in the Supplier Parameter Name field – and its Exclude option enabled.

Importing all Part and Supplier data

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 Pricing and Stock information. Available datasheets are imported also, as found in the Properties panel Links region under the General tab.

  • Imported parameters comply with the mapping and rules specified in the Parameter Import Options on the Data Management – Parts Providers Preferences page.
  • The Add Supplier Link And Parameters To option also is available when right-clicking on the Manufacturer Part entry rather than a sub Supplier cell for that entry. In this case the supplier parameters added to the component (current Pricing and Stock) will be from the highest priority Supplier (first on the list, designated as 'Best').

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.

  • For a database component, the target component entry is selected in the Table Browser of an opened DbLib or SVNDbLib.
  • For a placed component, where the command is Add Supplier Link And Parameters To Part, use the resulting target crosshairs to select a component (or a sequence of components) in an open Schematic document.

Importing Specific Parameters

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.

  • For a library component, the target is the entry selected in the SCH Library panel or (for a database library) the DBLib Table Browser.
  • For placed component, the target is selected in the Schematic Editor using cursor crosshairs.

Notable points regarding the propagation of parameter-value pairs are:

  • If the parameter already exists in the target component, its value will be updated – see Voltage Rating in the above example images.
  • If the parameter does not already exist, the imported parameter-value pair will be added to the target component – Tolerance and Material in above image.
  • The process will comply with the settings in the Parameter Import Options region of the Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog. For example, if Capacitance is mapped to Value, then the latter parameter will be added as a capacitance value to the target component – Value 1nF.
  • Supplier parameters, such as Stock and 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).

Creating a New Library Item from a Part-Supplier Item

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 <MPN> command from its right click context menu:

  • For a Schematic Library target, the newly added component entry will be listed in the SCH Library panel.
  • For a Database Library target (DbLib, SVNDbLib), the newly added component entry will be listed in the library's Table Browser.

Being able to create a new component directly from a Part or Supplier Item enables you to quickly build design libraries that are tightly linked to real-world components, from the outset.

  • If using the Import Into <MPN> command from the Manufacturer Part entry rather than a sub Supplier cell for that entry, the supplier parameters added to the new component will be from the highest priority Supplier (first on the list, designated as 'Best').
  • For parameters, pricing and stock information, the import will proceed in accordance with any defined parameter import options, on the Data Management – Parts Providers page of the Preferences dialog.

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:

  • For a schematic library component – right-click anywhere within the main workspace and choose the Supplier Links command from the context menu.
  • For a Database library / SVN Database Library component – right-click on a component entry under the Table Browser tab of the relevant DbLib/SVNDbLib file and choose the Edit Supplier Links command from the context menu.
  • For a placed component on a schematic sheet – right-click on the component and choose the Supplier Links command from the context menu.

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.

Quantity and Pricing

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.

Example of displayed Unit Price based on the specified Order Quantity, where ordering 100 units reduces the price from 0.1USD to 0.018USD per capacitor.

Currency Conversion

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.

Currency conversion is performed using applicable exchange rates. These rates are updated on a daily basis (every 24hrs), but you need to be signed in to your Altium account for the current conversion rates to be applied.

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.

Including Supplier Data in a Bill of Materials

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).

BOM Report

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.

A simple BOM Report will show supplier data parameters for components that include Supplier Links.

A BOM Report will extract Supplier Links data from an ActiveBOM document (see below) if one exists in the project, rather than from the project design documents.

ActiveBOM Document

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 or 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.

Found an issue with this document? Highlight the area, then use Ctrl+Enter to report it.

Contact Us

Contact our corporate or local offices directly.

You are reporting an issue with the following selected text
and/or image within the active document:
Altium Concord Pro Free Trial

Please Complete the form below to get Free Trial of Altium Concord Pro