I'm going to dump some praise on Digikey for a moment. These people rock.
In addition to having the fastest site of all part distributors, the cleanest presentation of their database, the most helpful product attribute table in the business, the fastest fulfillment service, and on and on, today they released what I'm calling Reverse Part Attribute Lookup. First, let me explain the problem that they solved.
Each day, we are introducing dozens to hundreds of new components to our process. Each of those components needs to be in stock and ready to buy to make sure we can build the order for our customer. But sometimes, our customers specify parts that are either not in stock, have the wrong package size (0603 instead of 0402, etc.), have the wrong orientation (right angle LED instead of vertical, etc) or some other weird thing that makes it unusable. So very often we need to find an alternate part number that will work for their design. Here's an example.
Let's say a customer specified an 10k resistor with a 5% tolerance, and in an 0402 package, like RC0402JR-0710KL. But their design calls for an 0603 footprint. Well the process we formerly went through to find an alternative would be to go to Digikey's Product Index, then choose Chip Resistors, and then click one by one, each filter we were interested in at the top of the page. In this case 10k for Resistance, 5% for tolerance. Then we would check the box for "In Stock" and click Apply Filters.
That doesn't sound too bad, until you have to do it over and over, many times each day. Additionally, there are other attributes which may or may not be important. Power Rating, Composition, Temperature Coefficient, etc. It can take time to look back at the original part number specified and scroll through a huge list of options for each attribute.
For years (not exaggerating, literally years) I have wanted a tool to tell me what other part numbers exist that match all of the same attributes as the part number I'm currently looking at. Basically a Cross Reference tool. But I'd like the ability to change just one attribute, like the package size (0603 instead of 0402). Well, those beautiful nerds over at Digikey did it. They have given us a dream of a tool.
First, pull up a product page. We'll use RC0402JR-0710KL for our example. You'll notice now in their Product Attributes table there are check boxes next to each Attribute. As you click these check boxes, you'll notice their software automatically tell you how many other parts match these attributes. As you keep clicking the number of parts that match will keep falling, based on how many other parts match it, until you finally have a nice clean list that you can easily sort through.
Here's a quick demo so you can see it in action.
This is so much easier than the old method we used to use. It saves time yes, but it also reduces the risk of recommending the wrong alternate part number. Thank you Digikey for making this. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
PS - If an executive gets their eyes on this, maybe they should buy their team some pizza ;)