There are many reasons a product can become obsolete. A shortage of natural resources, technological advancements and the changing interest of consumers mean that almost any electronic component has the potential to become obsolete.
Component obsolescence poses many potential problems for OEMs and CEMs. There’s often nothing that can be done to prevent component obsolescence but, as with many supply chain activities, proactivity is key when it comes to your obsolescence management strategy.
Stay tuned into component lifecycle information
While you can’t prevent component obsolescence, the sooner you know it is happening, the better, as it allows you more time to make the necessary changes. If the component is critical to your product, you may have to redesign it so that it no longer uses the obsolete part or find an alternative component that is available to replace it in the current design. You will also need to make sure you have enough of the component to complete any orders you have already taken if a redesign is not possible.
Maintain good communications channels with component manufacturers
Maintaining good relationships and open lines of communication are important aspects of any successful business, but even more so when it comes to component obsolescence. If you have cultivated a good relationship with the component manufacturers you use, then they should alert you to Product Change Notifications (PCN), End of Life announcements (EOL)/ Product Discontinuation Notifications (PDN), and Last Time Buy (LTB) as soon as they become aware of them, giving you more time to prepare, such as by placing larger orders while you can.
Have alternatives in place for the future
Once you have ensured a reliable source for the stock of the obsolete component needed to complete your current orders, you need to look to the future of your products; either redesigning them so that they no longer use the obsolete component or finding a replacement component that you can source easily.
Become familiar with the time scale for a certain component becoming obsolete
The final part of your obsolescence management strategy should be to ensure that you fully understand the time scale for a certain component becoming obsolete, as this will help you make the transition smoothly. Forward thinking and flexibility are key, as this will give you the freedom to make the choices that are most advantageous for your business, not the choices you have to make because they are the only remaining options.
Use an experienced supply chain partner
While the above point still stands, if you partner with an experienced distributor, they can manage all these communications on your behalf, and will also be proactive in finding any updates, leaving you to focus on the manufacture and distribution of your products.
A reliable distributor will also be able to source the very best component alternatives for you, including hard to find components, meaning you will be in a good position when obsolescence happens.
While you may not be able to prevent component obsolescence, you can prepare for it by being proactive and aligning yourself with an experienced supply chain partner, like Rebound Electronics.