Obsolete electronics are those that the manufacturer no longer supports. These components are frequently referred to as “end-of-life,” indicating that they have reached the end of their technically supported life.
In many circumstances, the equipment may still operate perfectly, but because the manufacturer no longer supports that model or product line, the components become obsolete.
What causes components to become obsolete?
Consumer devices are no longer made to survive as technology innovation accelerates. The same is true for electrical components, which will swiftly become obsolete when they cease to function or are no longer necessary.
Obsolete electrical components can cause serious problems for businesses relying on a specific product component. Obsolete components are still necessary for electronics manufacture in numerous areas, including aviation and the military. In contrast to the fast-paced IT industry, these industries may rely on certain parts for many years and face a catastrophe if they become obsolete.
Factors Causing Obsolescence
- Poor Demand Expectations
Predicting spare part demand is complex and needs both experience and good use of your EAM/CMMS platform. If a spare part’s demand is lower than expected, it may become obsolete before all of the pieces in stock are used.
- New Equipment
Because of technological advancements, some spare components from previous versions may become obsolete. Vendors may also enhance some of the parts for current equipment and advise against using earlier versions of the parts, essentially turning them obsolete, mainly if there is a safety risk.
- High Lead Times
Components with extended lead times that you require in inventory run the risk of not being used before they become obsolete.
Should you use obsolete electronic components?
Many designers seek to employ the most up-to-date components available while creating a new electronics project. However, as technology evolves year after year, even the most modern components will eventually become obsolete. Therefore, engineers must design projects to optimize the lifetime of their final products while bearing in mind that component longevity varies.
Designers should consider obsolete electrical components as an opportunity to improve their designs rather than a failure. Identifying and replacing old components may assist individual designers and major electronics corporations.
Which projects are suitable for using obsolete electronic components?
- Low Volume Projects
If a design is only going to be manufactured in small quantities and the obsolete part works well for the layout, it can be utilized. For example, if you only intend to make 100 printed circuit boards and there are thousands of pieces of your obsolete item on the market, putting it in the design may not have any effect on the product. However, if the product requires to be manufactured again in the future, it may need to be modified around newer components.
Using obsolete parts in long-term or high-volume projects might increase the risk of restructuring. A board may require redesigning between production batches to remove obsolete parts. This is especially crucial in projects that need highly precise or customized parts that are difficult or even impossible to replace.
Ineffective internal planning for obsolete electronic components may cause designers to rush out new ideas without thorough testing. If a distributor discontinues production, a manufacturer may need to establish new partnerships with other distributors, alter permitted distribution channels, and determine whether existing components may be reused. Due to tight deadlines, customer expectations, and import/export rules for particular items, it requires time and effort
How Can Manufacturers Prevent Obsolescence Issues?
Maximizing the lifespan of electronic components may be the easiest approach to avoid premature component obsolescence. This does not imply continual maintenance or misuse to the point that the components are no longer performing well. It entails establishing wise component selections while keeping an eye on where the part is on its lifetime curve, as seen below.
Component lifecycle curve
Investigate the Lifespan of Your Components
The average life expectancy of an electronic component has decreased with time. Choosing a part with a known lifespan less than that of the project exposes the project to obsolescence issues. Therefore, manufacturers should make every effort to ensure that a component will be available during the anticipated lifespan of their project. These projections are known as strategic parts predicting, and they should be based on as much data as possible.
Analyze data regularly and stay current on market dynamics.
Strict control over the supply chain provides a manufacturer with up-to-date knowledge on all components in a project and aids in the avoidance of unanticipated obsolescence concerns. For example, a functional project might end up in customers’ hands despite the fact that more than half of its parts are now obsolete, and the manufacturer may be oblivious of this.
Regular audits of a project’s Bill Of Materials (BOM) might alert manufacturers to potential issues and help them avoid costly redesigns. Materials Risk Index (MRI) risk assessments might help prevent new designs from employing obsolete electronic components. Continuous data analysis and understanding industry trends can prevent operations from commercial or financial failure due to obsolescence.
Can you still source obsolete electronic components?
Some electronics suppliers, such as BD Electronics, will collaborate with you to develop a plan for locating end-of-line or obsolete components. Identifying an independent, unbiased source with knowledge in this field and access to end-of-life, obsolete, or difficult-to-find components is critical, as large manufacturers frequently no longer supply them.
One of the risks of purchasing obsolete parts is that the quality may be lower, or you may be supplied with counterfeits. An experienced obsolete electronic broker, on the other hand, will guarantee that you receive electronic components that have been thoroughly evaluated, tested, and are secure to use in manufacturing operations.
It is also critical to keep your finger on the pulse of electrical components to avoid future scares. For example, if you learn that a component is nearing the end of its life cycle, contact your supplier to see if you can work out a contract to stock up.