When the chips are down there are options

Winslow Adaptics explains how it designs, develops and manufactures products to support electronics system lifecycles

The semiconductor shortages we are all experiencing are frustrating to say the least. It’s keeping us on our toes and each day doesn’t seem to get any better. Having said that, we are expecting it to improve but, we’re not sure when.

Today’s obsolescence marketplace now includes a temporary obsolescence scenario, it’s like allocation on steroids. A myriad of component types are either temporarily unavailable or have lead times extended exponentially. Even end-of-life notices have been affected. For example, an Intel voltage regulator went from LTB notice September 21 for last orders end of March 22 to; no further orders accepted Feb 22 to; part placed on allocation to US DOD, Intel strategic accounts and Intel internal production early March 22, which meant all outstanding orders were cancelled unless you could prove it was for one of the three. The PCN was then changed again July 22 to say that capacity had been secured to continue production with last shipments March 23.

Keeping ahead of the game is a challenge and time is precious but it’s worthwhile sitting back and weighing up the options. Is there something else that could be deployed to effectively solve the problem? Although redesign can seem like the way to go when your back is against the wall, this is not always the case. Techniques are employed to enable the original design to be utilised in the traditional world of legacy designs and the high-reliability markets of defence and aerospace where re-design either isn’t an option point blank or isn’t a cost-effective route ahead.

The current situation doesn’t discriminate. The highly regulated medical devices and automotive industries are now looking at ways to avoid lengthy re-design and using proven methods as an alternative or to bridge the supply gap.

The right to repair campaign, which is currently a company-to-consumer activity, will most likely eventually branch out into business-to-business. The trend we are currently in allows us to examine our procedures for product redesign and technology updates and explore the possibilities available to either extend the life of a product or enhance the technology without completely redesigning the entire electronic system.

As we see lead times improve the fall out is likely to be an increase to EOL notices. Considering that most of us wouldn’t have predicted a global pandemic and the experience gained in the last two years, why wouldn’t we pay attention and implement a risk management strategy for the future, even if it becomes a temporary event.

For more than 40-years, Winslow Adaptics has been involved in the design, development and manufacture of a wide range of products to support the electronics system lifecycle, working with clients in industries such as medical, defence, aerospace, automotive and rail. The company has been an active member of IIOM since 2003.