Tackling component obsolescence

In this article, Vanilla Electronics introduces its process for managing component obsolescence

Society is living through a time of rapid change and development, where products are superseded as quickly as they are released, sometimes without any direct or close alternative. While this is inconvenient for everyday consumer products, it can be detrimental to manufacturers producing products with long lifecycles who require component availability for many years.

If a manufacturer has exhausted its options for alternative, active components, Vanilla works with the company to design a sourcing strategy for end-of-life or obsolete parts. When sourcing obsolete components, the risk of receiving counterfeit product is higher, so it’s important to work with trusted suppliers that conform to quality expectations, including traceability, testing and validation. 

Below are four ways Vanilla helps manufacturers source obsolete or end-of-life components with complete confidence.

Monitoring reported parts: Having invested in automated tools and as a member of trade organisations such as the Electronic Resellers Association International (ERAI), Vanilla has access to the world’s largest databases of suspect counterfeit and nonconforming electronic components. These databases are constantly monitored and highlight new suspect parts or detection methods to stop the purchase of counterfeit parts. Batch information, date codes and vendors can be checked before proceeding with a purchase.

Approved supplier list: When sourcing obsolete components, it can be daunting to approach new suppliers. Vanilla has developed its supplier base over an 18-year period and has developed a global network of suppliers which it trusts and works with regularly. 

Inspection and test: Vanilla uses industry accredited checklists, visual inspections, XRF, de-cap and x-ray to verify parts are fit for use in customers’ products. 

Pilot runs: As a final check, the company’s in-house team of IPC qualified technicians and test engineers can assemble and test a part on a functional PCB, further guaranteeing the safety and functionality.

This stringent process is why Vanilla has never delivered a counterfeit part to a customer. 

It is important to stay up to date with changes to avoid supply chain disruptions. Vanilla uses analysis tools to predict components’ lifecycles (years to end of life) as well as predicting the life cycle of bills of materials. Embedding Vanilla into an NPI strategy helps reduce the chance of future obsolescence.