Handling Parts Obsolescence with a Proactive Partner

Parts obsolescence is a huge issue that can quickly torpedo your printed circuit board assembly. Once a component needed for your build becomes difficult, or even impossible to find, your project can be plagued with problems. Obsolescence opens you up to:

· Counterfeit components

· Increased production costs

· Shortened system life cycles

· Costly redesigns

Potential problems that can affect printed circuit board assemblies are why you need to be sure to partner with an ECM that tackles parts obsolescence proactively. It’s not enough to react. Your ECM should have a solid obsolescence management plan from the start. This means there are obvious obsolescence mitigation strategies your ECM should already be aware of.

Robotic arm in printed circuit board assembly.

Component Life Cycles

Proactively planning for parts obsolescence means understanding component lifecycles. More than 70% of the electronic components used in printed circuit board assembly will become obsolete before the system is even installed. Your ECM should carefully monitor of end of life (EOL) notifications. Alerts on EOL components that affect the manufacturing of your PCBs give you time to source parts before they become hard to find.

How to Forecast DemandLegacy - Square

A big key to managing parts obsolescence is being able to predict it. Does your manufacturing partner use forecasting to aid in supply chain management?

The majority of electronic part obsolescence forecasting involves the development of models and mathematical equations to predict the risk of obsolescence or dates when components will most likely become obsolete. Models based on technology trends can also be used. These are often based on sales curves. These forecasts can be applied to your Bill Of Materials. This allows you to move ahead confidently without selecting parts that are close to obsolescence.

The Importance of a Vetted Supplier Network

You need the best supply chain partner possible when a component is in danger of becoming obsolete. You can accomplish this by working with an ECM who has an existing, trusted network of vetted suppliers. This allows you to stock up and purchase the parts before they are no longer available. Your ECM can also validate suppliers’ environmental and regulatory compliance certifications and use its supply chain resources to find an adequate substitute for the part or an appropriate aftermarket source without the risk of low-quality or counterfeit parts for your printed circuit board assembly.

The Importance of Accurate Inventory Reports

The risks and effects of component obsolescence can be greatly minimized with an effective inventory management system. In-stock parts must be tracked for availability and should be flagged if they are at the end of their life cycle. Successful obsolescence mitigation means your ECM must be confident in its inventory records. This should include regular physical inventory counts so you have a precise picture of your inventory position.

Track Availability

Staying ahead of product changes and discontinued parts will greatly mitigate the effects of parts obsolescence on your printed circuit board assembly. Your ECM must track the availability of components and end of life announcements for parts. Tracking availability allows parts to be procured before they are hard to find, and the price goes up. Doing this also allows for engineers to look for appropriate replacement parts in advance so your manufacturing timeline doesn’t suffer.

More Than Design

Importance of In-House Engineers

Having an ECM with in-house engineers who can retrofit, reverse engineer, and streamline product designs for greater efficiency is invaluable to your project, and is the greatest tool you can use to combat parts obsolescence. Many engineers have expertise in anticipating lifecycle changes in electronic components. They will monitor parts availability and have a plan in motion before components cannot be procured.

On-site engineers can also respond quickly once a part becomes obsolete. They can assist with a redesign in order to accommodate necessary component replacements and use reverse engineering to recreate the PCB without losing functionality and quality.

Planning ahead can mean a world a difference in mitigating parts obsolescence. Levison Enterprises takes this challenge seriously. We work closely with our clients in order to find engineering solutions and new component parts for your printed circuit board assembly. Our on-site engineering, assembly, and supply chain management capabilities allow us to provide one-stop solutions for you and to ensure your products are available for your customers. Contact Levison today for a free estimate on your next project.

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