Technology as we know it is constantly advancing and evolving. At the pace that technology is jumping to the next latest and the most significant thing, it isn’t a puzzle that, more often than not, consumer gadgets and various obsolete electronics components that make up these devices quickly become out of date after just a few years of market.
Having various obsolete electronic components bring up many issues for manufacturers relying on a specific product design. Although industries like the military and aerospace do not have such a quick turnover of members, many consumer-based electronics have constantly moving and improving tech that obsolete electronic components quickly pile up. This causes massive problems for manufacturers if companies cannot eliminate unused stock.
5 Signs of Electronic Components Becoming Obsolete
If people think that most electronic products and components don’t last as long as they used to, they cannot be blamed for it. In truth, there is a difference between how electronic products were made back then to today, especially about the components making up such devices. Obsolete electronic components are indeed rising at a much faster rate in recent times, and here are some signs to look out for:
Systems or Operations Failing After Several Years
In recent years, various obsolete electronic components and products have been manufactured without longevity. This is because of the highly-rapid pace of advancement currently experienced by the market and, by extension, the electronics industry. For example, many cell phone companies are aware that consumers tend to hop to the latest model as soon as the design is available for purchase. Following this thinking, manufacturers have no reason to stock components for 5 to 10 years simply because the product will have been outdated.
Short Lifespan of Semiconductors
Aerospace, military, and medical equipment are usually built to last, but currently, manufactured semiconductors cannot keep up to the longevity of the equipment. From here comes the domino effect. Once one piece of a design is obsolete, the others may become obsolete with it.
Government policies can sometimes become a factor in why an electronic component becomes obsolete. An example of this happened when the EU banned parts that were not lead-free. This caused obsolescence problems globally, not just in the country in question.
Rapid Technical and Electronic Evolution and Market Presence
Sadly, several factors have made obsolete electronic components faster than ever. These factors include quickly changing technology, continuous product updates, and features purposely created with a shorter lifespan. This massive shift is because until 10-15 years ago, the electronic components industry was driven by automotive companies. Today, it’s all about cell phones. So if a parts manufacturer can get its chip into an iPhone design, a lot of money is coming.
Scarcity of Relevant Manufacturing Components
There are a few ways to spot a fluctuation in the electronics industry. First, it is helpful for many firms to keep an eye on the scarcity of raw materials, new regulations on substances, increased lead times, trends between mergers and acquisitions, and other natural disruptions (natural disasters, pandemics, etc.).
Obsolescence is no longer just about a component becoming outdated and outperformed or phased out of portfolios and production lines. Instead, returning to the signs stated above, it is also about managing availability issues due to insufficient production capacity or uncontrollable events.
What Can You Do: Obsolescence Management
Obsolescence management is proactively mitigating risks surrounding an electronic product’s given life cycle. These risks are typically associated with the degradation of various components, affecting the device or effect of which the element in question is a part.
A typical yet expensive example of obsolescence is when the production of a particular gadget or machine is halted due to a lack of active sources for a given component. An analogy for this would be something along the line of cell phone production getting delayed because the manufacturer of the phone is not aware that the company is lacking in sources for a string of resistors. Stoppages such as the example stated above cause companies to risk millions of dollars in losses which is why companies often develop plans and strategies to avoid significant damages in revenue.
The rapid pace of the advancement of electronics and technology challenges manufacturers to be more strategic in discontinuing the production of obsolete electronic components in their catalogs to make room for better and more in-demand blueprints. Obsolescence management is a strategy designed to handle this tedious turnover and is deemed critical to maintaining the production of a business over the long term.
When to Prepare for Obsolescence Management?
To prepare for obsolescence, you will need to know in advance the changes component manufacturers are planning to make. Here are several notifications that component manufacturers typically communicate out.
- Product Change Notifications (PCN) are usually sent out to communicate changes regarding factory location, raw material specifications, software updates, process or quality improvements or changes, and functionality upgrades or changes. Receiving a PCN does not necessarily mean that a part will be made entirely obsolete; however, the changes being made to a device or machine may impact the assets depending on what changes will happen and how the parts will function.
- End Of Life (EOL) or Product Discontinuation Notifications (PDN) will be sent out to consumers to confirm that a part of a given product will be made obsolete. Unfortunately, manufacturers cannot provide a definitive guideline as to when exactly their types of notifications will be sent out because of the contemporary nature of technology and the markets. Additionally, once the final purchase order of a part is deemed to be under the PDN, the final delivery will be made for it respectively.
- Last Time Buy (LTB) notifications are sent to consumers about the factory’s previous purchase order date regarding a product that will soon be made obsolete. These notifications are sent to the factory to determine the size of the last production run for the component. When these notifications are sent out, distributors typically order a significant amount to stock up.
- And finally, there are Last Time Ship (LTS) dates. These are the last dates the factory will ship products directly to the consumers and distributors through their network and channels. Again, while there are typically several months between LTB and LT’s dates, each manufacturer will have its timescale policies, which will need to be studied by both consumers and distributors alike.
To know more about obsolete electronic components, check out this article!