What does “obsolescence management” mean?

There is a lot to consider when commissioning a contract electronic manufacturer (CEM) for your PCB assembly. Particularly if you’re working in a heavy regulated industry where the components used are restricted by governing bodies. It is important to understand what obsolescence means and how it can impact your production.

Obsolescence is the process of becoming obsolete or outdated and no longer used. It does not mean an item is now defective or no longer of high quality.

It is important to understand how your chosen CEM tackles obsolescence management.

What is obsolescence management in electronics manufacturing?

As your product ages, so does the PCB and the components used. Over time, these components may not be available from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This could be due to the OEM going out of business or the component being discontinued. Largely, this is a side effect of the speed in which technology is advancing.

When selecting a new CEM, you need to understand how they assess and manage critical componentry to ensure continuity of supply. It is important that they have a proactive approach to supply chain management; allowing enough time to source alternatives should your component become obsolete.

Why is it important?

If an electronic component is rendered obsolete and an alternative hasn’t been sourced in good time it can delay your production line. If a replacement can’t be sourced at all, it could mean a complete redesign of your product. All of which can have a costly impact.

In industries such as medical equipment or military and aviation, components are regulated by governing bodies, therefore the process of seeking alternatives can be timely.

Look for a CEM who has strength in supply chain management that allows them to continually monitors availability. By doing so, you’re able to forecast potential risks and put plans in place.

What can you do to reduce the impact of obsolete components?

Whilst your chosen contract electronic manufacturer has a duty of care to support your production, there are ways you can help mitigate risk too.

Providing your Master Bill of Materials (Master BoM) upfront. This should contain a list of all components and devices across your product range.

Allow your CEM access to your engineering department. This will slimline the process of sourcing alternative components. It also gives both teams access to additional knowledge and suggestions.

How is obsolescence managed at FermionX? 

At FermionX we are in regular contact with our suppliers. We have procedures in place where ‘end-of-life’ notices from manufacturers are forwarded immediately on to us.

If an end-of-life notice has an impact on your product(s) we will contact you directly. We will proactively source and provide you with a minimum of 1 alternative, unless agreed otherwise. We also have the option of securing extra stock of the affected component until a replacement is agreed.

Our purchasing team will then work with your engineering/design team to update the BoM before any future order is placed, maintaining continuity of supply.

If this proves difficult, or no alternative can immediately be found, we can secure extra stock of current component before going obsolete, allowing more time to find alternative.

Find out more about our supply chain management here.

Get in touch with our team to find out more information on how we can support your business through obsolescence management.