Don’t let component obsolescence reach crisis status

Princeps’ MD, Dan Hughes, introduces the company’s three tier process for obsolescence avoidance including monitoring, sourcing and mitigation.

Obsolescence is a huge challenge for applications with long operational lifetimes. It’s particularly acute for electronics, where technology is constantly evolving and newer technology parts emerge regularly.

Production of newer devices means purchasers are often frustrated trying to keep pace. Older parts become hard to find, as reducing demand leads manufacturers to switch production lines to newer parts. Yet, the alternative is a costly redesign which, for high reliability applications, may not be feasible.

This often leaves buyers feeling compelled to turn to the open market, which can open the door for counterfeit parts. When not sourcing from franchised distributors, strict, costly anti-counterfeiting measures become an unavoidable necessity. Implementing an obsolescence management plan, such as defined by IEC 62402, helps address these issues. Princeps’ mission is to provide an obsolescence service that pre-empts the threat, using the following steps.

Monitoring and identifying devices at risk: Princeps’ BoM monitoring service scrutinises the bill-of-materials, raising alerts for components mentioned in manufacturers’ product change notifications (PCNs), product discontinuation notices (PDNs), end-of-life (EoL) notifications and last time buy (LTB) warnings. The algorithm predicts the likelihood of a component being made obsolete, with a predictive time-to-obsolescence.

Finding components and supporting LTBs: With these advanced warnings, customers have enough time to source alternatives, secure lifetime buys or even redesign boards. For non-obsolete, hard-to-find parts, Princeps offers access to a global network of manufacturer-authorised sources, casting a wide net and using its expertise and tenacity to track down elusive parts. The company’s experience and knowledge helps safely manage payments, shipping, customs and import issues.

Mitigation of open market sourced parts: There may still be occasions requiring accessing the open market to procure obsolete parts. Princeps offers a range of risk-mitigation solutions, including bespoke test and inspection plans. The company has invested in its in-house testing lab, supporting the expertise of its inspection and quality assurance team with technology, including a recently upgraded Keyence high power optical microscope, Fischer XRF spectrometer, Nisene decapsulation system and Glenbrook x-ray inspection system.