Most OEMs are continuously faced with product design challenges due to electronic component obsolescence.
The parts become obsolete when the components are no longer manufactured, either because demand has dropped to below the levels that it is not practical for manufacturers to continue making it, or because the materials or technologies necessary to produce it are no longer available. When hard-to-find or obsolete parts are needed, to avoid a line down situation, quality, cost management, and support for the total life of the product becomes an undeniable concern.
The electronic industry is one of the most dynamic sectors of the world’s economy. In the United States, this industry has grown at a rate three times that of the overall economy in the last ten years. The rapid growth of the electronics industry has spurred dramatic changes in the design and the introduction of electronic parts that comprise the products and systems that the public buys. In addition, the markets for semiconductor devices are now dominated by the rapidly changing computer, telecommunications, and consumer industries, which together purchase about 93% of all available electronic components in the U.S.
The average production life of electronic components is 3-6 years with narrow operating temperature ranges. Within the consumer electronics industry, products that are continuously evolving typically develop as new component technologies come to fruition. On the other hand, industries including military, automotive, industrial, and aerospace find obsolesce to be a common occurrence, since many products must be supported for 5-20 years or even longer.
Many components that are no longer made today are still needed by these industries for current system designs, productions, and repairs. This is due to life cycle mismatch problems that occur when manufacturing takes place over long periods of time. When this problem arises, system qualification or redesigning of boards using newer parts is an extremely expensive undertaking. If a product requires a long life cycle, then an obsolescence management strategy may be required.
Solutions to these problems include:
• Last time buys (LTB): Buying or storing enough parts to meet the system’s forecasted lifetime requirements until redesign is possible • Aftermarket sources: Third parties that continue to provide the electronic components after the manufacturer has obsoleted it • Finding alternate parts that are still being manufactured.
“With hundreds of thousands of semiconductors available from hundreds of manufactures, it is somewhat challenging to keep up with planned (and sometimes, unplanned) obsolescence, EOL’s (end-of-life) revision changes, and other critical knowledge that will affect your project build.” Advanced MP Technology’s (AMPT) Global Product Manager states that, “This is where AMPT can help. We have the ability to quickly check BOMs and individual requirements to determine life cycle status; LTB’s and even suggest alternatives or replacements for end-of-life parts. In addition, AMPT is a world leader in sourcing and procuring end-of-life product through our global purchasing network.”
Having a proactive and comprehensive component obsolescence process is key to meeting product life cycle requirements, balancing the various business and design needs, and ensuring a quality product – AMPT is ready to help with any obsolete component concerns!