Keeping ahead of the obsolescence wave

PEI-Genesis’ European product director, Shaun Findley, discusses how choosing the right supplier can reduce the pressure when vital parts go end-of-life.

The word ‘obsolescence’ induces anxiety for many buyers. There are several reasons parts become obsolete. The obvious reason is a superior model supersedes an existing part. For instance, flat-screen monitors replacing cathode-ray tubes. Other reasons include changing regulations or standards, plus manufacturer redesigns.

For highly regulated sectors including aerospace, military and medical, obsolescence can leave original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) non-compliant with regulatory standards. It also makes repairs and maintenance more difficult because like-for-like parts may not be available, or the technical support that comes with them. What’s more, parts that reach end-of-life after prolonged use in extreme environments may degrade in performance or pose a safety risk.

This is where the challenge for buyers rears its head. Modern applications may include tens of thousands of components from potentially thousands of disparate suppliers. Attempting to manage obsolescence and upgrade outdated equipment in such a diverse portfolio can quickly become dizzying.

OEMs can take some proactive measures to manage obsolescence by auditing their components and understanding each part’s lifecycle. This might involve a risk analysis of parts that could soon become obsolete and working to secure stock from a reliable supplier.

At PEI-Genesis, customers can check parts availability in real-time by uploading a parts-list spreadsheet using the website’s search function. This automatically checks a database of over 15 million products for availability and whether any parts have end-of-life (EOL) or last-buy notices. If the part is not available from one supplier, PEI-Genesis’ dual-supplier status means the organisation may be able to offer the same part from a different supplier.

Even if customers need to redesign or re-engineer parts, the company’s unique business model means it holds over $100m dollars of inventory in component form, allowing it to build millions of combinations of products using these parts. Thanks to a highly automated manufacturing process, lead times are 48-hours and minimum order quantity is one.

While it does require some consideration, obsolescence doesn’t have to cause anxiety. Mitigating the impact obsolete parts have on product quality, production uptime and customers safety is priority number one.