by Penny Cotner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Infinite Electronics, Inc
MPD: How is your company addressing the many constraints that the pandemic has placed on business operations?
In the early days of the pandemic, we were faced with the same uncertainties as almost all businesses around the world. That said, our leadership team stepped up and went into action very quickly to protect our employees, customers, and our business overall. Right away we established that we are an essential business supporting other essential businesses, so we adjusted what we needed with minimal disruption in our supply chain. At the beginning of the lockdown, our immediate priority was to keep our people safe, shifting all office workers to working from home, and creating social distancing and safety measures in our operational facilities. And through all of this, we’ve kept our service levels well above industry standards – we didn’t miss a beat, and neither did our customers. As some of our customers shifted rapidly to supporting COVID efforts, so did we – with immediate shipment of product to customers building ventilators, supporting research efforts, and more. Our customers’ needs can’t wait, and that’s why we’re here. It’s a great example of why our same-day value proposition is so important. I’m very proud of our leadership team and our incredible employees for their level heads, quick and agile reactions, and continued dedication to meeting our customers’ needs.
MPD: The adoption of open architectures is accelerating in many markets, from wireless to defense. Do you feel your company and the RF and microwave industry as a whole benefit from this initiative?
Open architectures benefit every industry and especially design engineers. They provide far greater flexibility in choosing the best hardware and software from different vendors rather than being forced to use resources offered by just one. That said, Infinite offers off-the shelf hardware components that are applicable to both open and closed architectures.
MPD: Technologies such as direct RF sampling are reducing the number of analog components in receivers and, increasingly, transmitters as well. Do you feel that the “digitalization of RF” will have an impact on your business?
This “digitalization” of functions previously performed with analog components has obvious benefits for our design engineering customers and all the systems in which they are used. The trend began long before direct RF sampling became possible thanks to advances in analog-to-digital converters, as well as FPGAs, GPUs, and other hardware accelerators.
The question, of course, is how this affects manufacturers of RF and microwave components that digital technology could displace. At Infinite Electronics, we receive requests for components that are either entirely analog or have some digital content are actually increasing. The reason, we believe, is that there continues to be a broad array of applications for which there is no digital solution or their use is not necessary or even beneficial.
Using your example of direct RF sampling, even when the mixer and local oscillator are eliminated, filters are still required, as are low-noise amplifiers. In addition, the higher frequency applications require cables with very high reliability and higher frequency performance, a product area that Infinite has added as this trend has evolved. In addition, these cable assemblies can be customized and shipped in the same day. In short, it will be a very long time before digital technology will be able to eliminate analog components, and likely may never do so entirely. In any event, one of Infinite’s unique advantages is that we support our customers by maintaining an “on-the-shelf” inventory of products, which are obsolete or approaching obsolescence. This gives our customers the opportunity to extend the life of a system or solution where the need is critical.