It is necessary to address the possible effects of electronic component of component obsolescence at the earliest stages of development.
By having a plan of how to manage obsolescence it is possible to reduce the effects of obsolescence on the design, and provide long term benefits for the product.
Often an obsolescence management plan will be included within the design processes and procedures implemented by a design organisation. This will help the design engineers follow a logical path in terms of reducing the effects of obsolescence over the life of a product.
Obsolescence management plan basics
In order to ensure that obsolescence management is a key element considered within any design, it is necessary to incorporate the concepts into the design of a product from its earliest stages. In this way a pro-active approach, rather than a reactive approach is adopted for obsolescence issues. In addition to this, it is becoming necessary in many areas of industry where electronic products are being designed for a specific customer, that an obsolescence management plan is required as part of the contract.
Any obsolescence management plan will include a variety of different elements. These may include the following:
- Technology roadmap: One key element of any obsolescence plan is to look at a technology roadmap. This enables the development team to identify, evaluate, and select technologies that are less likely to be affected by obsolescence and also it may suggest alternatives that can have a longer design life. The use of this technique may also help to plan the technology refreshes for an item of electronic equipment that can be undertaken during its 'In-Service' phase, thereby reducing the level of obsolescence issues.
- Review of components used: When developing any product or item of equipment, components that are selected for incorporation can all be reviewed against the technology roadmap and other information that may be available. By incorporating a full review into the process, the obsolescence plan can be incorporated into the standard processes and procedures used.
- Highlighting high risk components: It is often necessary that some high risk components may need to be used. These should be highlighted and their availability monitored. When they become obsolescent, i.e. in the process of being made obsolete or withdrawn from production, it may be possible to undertake a last time buy.
- Monitoring of the components: While some components may be marked as high risk, there is a risk that any components can become obsolete. It should be a key element of any obsolescence management plan that all components are monitored. To assist with this, many major component manufacturers issue lists of obsolescent components, giving warning that components will be withdrawn and made obsolete.