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Winslow Adaptics’ managing director, Teri-Ann Winslow

With 25-years’ experience in obsolescence management and a broad spectrum of members, IIOM is the right choice for today’s supply chain hurdles

The International Institute of Obsolescence Management (IIOM) is 25-years old this year. Having started in the UK as the Component Obsolescence Group (COG) in 1997 as a trade body for manufacturers, asset operators and obsolescence solution providers, it now boasts a global membership and professional recognition scheme.

We all love the buzz of getting the latest technology but how often does it not work as planned with integrated systems or require other support? The modern world is a whirlwind of technological creativity and advancement. However, there are many applications for which newer, smarter and faster means a system or product no longer works and is pushed towards a premature end-of-service or obsolescence.

Traditionally, systems such as air traffic control, aviation flight computers, railway signalling, nuclear powerplant controls, medical scanners, communication infrastructure and many other legacy business systems and utilities, are good examples of being overtaken by new technology. Could we have foretold a situation where the modern supply chain would be affected by a short-term obsolescence scenario, where even the most common parts would be hard to find? To top it all, some of those may be subject to an obsolescence notice in the near future. There are so many unknowns the situation is precarious to say the least.

For equipment with a long lifecycle, the original design requirement remains unchanged, sometimes for several decades, meaning that proactive obsolescence management has become a necessity to ensure delivery to the customer in a cost effective and timely manner. Today we find ourselves in a situation where the skills associated with obsolescence management are an asset to any purchasing department. When the buy-in from management, to engineers, to purchasing is there, it is a force to be reckoned with. The practices carried out in organisations that suffer at the hand of obsolescence are relevant for the current supply chain and companies you wouldn’t expect, automotive as an example, are employing engineers with obsolescence skills to aid future resilience.

Obsolescence is defined as the non-availability of parts or services that were previously available and it’s much more than just components. For example, materials, processes, skills, and software can be affected and occur in all stages of the equipment’s life cycle, such as development, design, production and in-service. Using obsolescence management as a tool in an organisation creates an understanding of why this may happen and to plan and mitigate for these instances in the future. It is also now recognised as a vital part of the support and through-life strategy by many progressive companies.

IIOM is the professional body for those involved in obsolescence management. The Institute is for professionals worldwide who wish to further their knowledge and understanding of the obsolescence management discipline, obtain professional recognition and network with like-minded individuals from its global membership. The organisation welcomes corporate and individual members and has obsolescence solution providers among its corporate membership, as well as manufacturers and operators. These solution providers offer various obsolescence management services, including: component monitoring; counterfeit avoidance; engineering and manufacturing creative; sustainable solutions for obsolete designs; stocks of obsolete and end-of-life components; and training.

Regular member meetings and a biennial international conference provide a mix of formal presentations and informal events at which obsolescence engineers, buyers and solution providers can exchange ideas—not just on obsolescence but also on key issues such as REACH, conflict minerals and counterfeiting. Meetings also provide access to suppliers of the latest tools and systems developed to support obsolescence monitoring and management.

The consumer ‘right to repair’ initiative will hopefully lead to a change in attitude in the workplace and obsolescence management will become a central part of the circular economy. Engineers and customers will need to think twice before ending service life and the resulting costly disposal. Obsolescence, whether temporary or not, is here to stay but you can help yourself manage the risk. The good news is that with 25-years’ experience and a diverse membership IIOM is there to help.