Managing the Unmanageable: Parts Obsolescence in Electronic Manufacturing
Parts obsolescence is a problem that plagues the electronic industry. Life Cycles of products no longer fit together with life cycles of the components needed to manufacture them. More than 70% of the electronic components are obsolete before the system is even installed. This needs to be understood and planned for before a design comes off the drawing board. Reacting to parts obsolescence isn't going to cut it. The only way to succeed is to have a solid, proactive plan and impeccable supply chain management.
Obsolescence management doesn't have to be an inevitability that cannot be avoided. An important part of mitigating parts obsolescence is to have a plan. This plan should be the responsibility of all departments, not just engineering. And it is something that must be considered from the beginning in the design phase.
Your plan should include careful monitoring of end of life (EOL) notifications. Immediate alerts on EOL parts that affect the manufacturing of your products allow you to react sooner than later. It gives you time to procure parts before they become hard to find or re-engineer your design with a compatible or completely different component without affecting performance.
Predict Risks - Short and Long Term
Forecasting the life cycle of components greatly aids in supply chain management. Equations based on the frequency of obsolescence allow your electronic contract manufacturer to predict the risk of obsolescence or dates when components will become obsolete. Short-term forecasting allows you to plan for price increases, reduction in inventory levels, and a reduction in the number of sources available for a part. Long-term life cycle predictions will give you an idea of when a part will be completely discontinued. This allows you to move ahead with manufacturing with a lower risk of obsolescence.
Obtain Vetted Suppliers
Having the best supply chain partner possible will greatly minimize the risk of disruption in the supply chain when a component is in danger of becoming obsolete. An electronic contract manufacturer with an existing network of vetted suppliers is extremely valuable when facing the obsolescence of components. You can stock up and purchase the parts before they are no longer available, find an adequate substitute for the part, or an authorized aftermarket source without the risk of low-quality or counterfeit parts being used in your build.
Having engineers in-house during manufacturing greatly assists with mitigation of parts obsolescence. They can help with recommending compatible component replacement options as well assisting with any necessary redesigns to include new parts. They may also be able to arrange last time buys of components to get your products built before parts are no longer available.
The reality is that all components will become obsolete over the course of time no matter what type of product you are developing. This makes a strong component obsolescence management strategy imperative for all electronic designs.
Levison Enterprises takes supply chain management and mitigating parts obsolescence seriously. We believe failing to plan is planning to fail. That is why we track and forecast components availability, build relationships with quality suppliers, and have engineer's on-site to ensure that your product works exactly as intended. Let us deliver your idea with the highest attention to detail. Contact Levison Enterprises today to request a free quote for your next project.