An obsolete component - How to deal with component obsolescence

How to deal with electronic component obsolescence

As a product manufacturer, you already know how to plan, manage and design a circuit, starting with a simple idea. You know how to build a prototype of that idea to create a sample. And you also know how to scale up production on the finalized product to sell it in large quantities.

Most products today have a useful life that frequently surpasses the life of their component parts. And regulation in the EU and elsewhere is imposing the lengthening of that lifespan even further. So, as a manufacturer, how do you strategically manage electronic components that may become obsolete?

Electronic design is ever more complex, and a non-strategic selection of electronic components can have a domino effect. Often, the problem has already surfaced when companies ask themselves these questions.

Frequently, product manufacturers erroneously believe they have a good answer in their existing supply chain.

But the rapid rate of electronic component development, and consequently, the economic incentives for producers to make “older”, less lucrative components obsolete poses a real challenge that is often under evaluated.

Consequently, your existing supply chain may not be sufficient to ensure your supply of possibly-soon-to-be obsolete components. It is therefore critical to ensure that you also have a secondary reliable source for the components in your products as a “Plan B”.

How to create a safe “Plan B” for sourcing obsolete components

First, scrutinize the relationship you have with your supplier(s). Can they provide you with all the market intelligence you require to safeguard your production chain? Do they?

At Electronic Partner we always request from our suppliers all the information that may be useful to our customers – regardless of whether or not that customer then goes on to order the products through us!

Furthermore, we share this information with our potential customers, free of charge.

Second, determine whether the price you have seen from suppliers online is realistic. Daily we experience the mistaken dynamic that the lowest cost represents the best bargain, which may appeal to many. However the lowest price is not always the best choice in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. On the contrary, more and more often, it is an indication of a counterfeit component.

Third, you should investigate the nature of the component on offer, its actual date of manufacture, and the reliability of that information. You should also investigate the supplier’s current ‘cv’, which can change all the time given the very high risk of non-compliant material these days!

Fourth, it is advisable that you also look for equivalent components and put them through the same evaluation process.

At this stage, you can request an independent distributor for a global perspective on the component on offer.

Once again, you should be careful to ensure that the company you approach actually has an appropriate network of suppliers.

Electronic Partner specializes in this kind of challenge. We know that we can help you reliably solve the problem of obsolete products.

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