Douglas--great, detailed information. One question: in your experience, how often should one worry about updating their component database? I know that information gets stale even on on the Web, so it must come up...
Fortunately, there are component "alert" services to which a company can subscribe. The nature of these alerts deal with different Part Master maintenance concerns. Of major concern are the EOL, End Of Life alerts. However, many general form, fit, or function changes are captured in PCN, Product Change Notices, issued by the manufacturer. The absolute best way to keep a part's data up-to-date is to have a service that references the company's internal part numbers to targeted alert notifications that "pushes" the part particulars to the service subscriber's email automatically. So, if a company had their entire Item Master Part listing automatically assigned to an alert service as mentioned, then the manual scrub no longer becomes necessary. Soon to be arriving in January is one such service offered by EEContent.com which will not only cross reference a company's internal part numbers to PCN And EOL type alerts, but also environmental compliance such as REACH, Registration-Evaluation-Analysis-restriction of CHemicals. These chemicals being further defined as SVHC or Substances of Very High Concern. The EEContent.com service will perpetually scrub any BOM uploaded to the service so that every REACH, EOL, and PCN alert is tracked against every internal part number. This will not only save the company a lot of effort in keeping the part's list current, but will also provide instantaneous analysis of the company's products readiness to ship to REACH compliant countries. The other reason a part database would be periodically scrubbed would be because companies are always buying up other companies and obsoleting/obscuring the original manufacturer's name and part number. Hence it is best to have the ability to track a manufacturer's genealogy as well. Parts listed under Motorola several years ago, may now be manufactured by Freescale. A notice service offering genealogy information is most helpful for keeping the AVL part of the Item Master up-to-date. EEContent.com also has the genealogy service available as part of their standard subscription service. Barbara, I appreciate your manufacturing savvy a lot. I believe there is much that readers can gain from reading blog responses and not just the content of the blogs themselves. My recommendation, in answer to your question, " how often should one worry about updating the component database" is a lot less than they do without a subscription service. EEContent is the most affordable service available now and this is the team that introduced PCN Alert back in the late 90s early 2000s. So now with the advances in the Internet and lower cost of storage and services, in my opinion, every company should be actively pursuing any alert service that gives them the most comprehensive alert types, while not straining the company's fiscal constraints.
As always, Douglas has written a great article. Parts need to be tightly controlled in order to negate having problems.
Without tight control of all of the parameters of each part via a PSD or SCD, there is aways the possibility of a part ALMOST (but not quite) performing as needed. By not performing as required for some critical parameter, the desired function may be compromised. How much it is compromised or "degraded" from what is needed, determines if the substitution will work or not. Often this is not found out until after the substitute part is used and released to the end user. Then, if the degradation is too much, it'll come back to you and "bite" you severely. (No-one likes to be bitten, expecially if money and customer satisfaction is involved)
Tight control of the part and updating the AVL for each part change, is mandatory for having far less problems, saving money and maintaining customer satisfaction.
Remember, the ultimate choice of what part is to be used is up to the Design Engineer/Component Engineer team. Another item which is determined by the DE/CE team along with the program contract, is the Reliability of the part. (We will be addressing the RELIABILITY of parts in further articles) Neither of these can be changed by the Purchasing person within the company. Purchasing's function is to obtain the exact desired part at the lowest possible price, with all of its associated parametric specifications and reliability considerations.
The components engineering website is a great resource. Data sheets available directly from an ERP system's part master would be very convenient to have. I wonder how document control specialists could facilitate this.
Very Helpful article , I want also to mention how much help you have when you are working in the Service sector and you can have freely access to all of these documentations and part manuals. But problem occurs when the part is not in the market any more and you are trying to find a replacement for that. I dont Know how but we must find a solution to that ....
Memos. Try www.lansdale.com for obsolete parts replacements. These guys bought up the old dies and masks and still manufacturer many parts that were obsoleted by the original manufacturer.
As a global pioneer in IC products life cycle management, Lansdale manufactures over 3,000 classic design ICs in the original package, exactly as they were created and produced by AMD, Fairchild, Freescale Semiconductor, Harris, Intel, Motorola, National, Philips (formerly Signetics), and Raytheon.
If you need help with specific replacements, just email me or visit www.componentsengineering.com and sign up. No charge for helping so let us know what tough part you are attempting to replace now.
Having the complete technical documentation of the components used in a product design always helps in testing and servicing of the products in the field.
I would like to mention one important point here. Not all the specifications of a given part may be applicable in the design consideration of a part and there may be some leverage available in certain specifications. If the designer documents -what was required specification in his design against what was the specification of the chosen component - it will help finding second source components which may not be matching the original part in terms of specifications but will be able to meet the designers specifications.
Some of the components documentation principles can also be applied to software documentation. However, it is difficult to have everything documented because of deadline constraints. Developers sometimes just want to have their jobs done and never have enough time to spend on providing support for their software.
"Not all the specifications of a given part may be applicable in the design consideration"
Agreed, but it is better to have the documentation to serve for guidelines. This way, you can use the information to search for similar components when you cannot find the component with the actual (same) specs.
Prabhakar and Hospice,
Your comment on critical parameters is key for selecting emergency replacements to keep a line running, but the substitute part must be given a new internal part number and a TMD, Temporary Manufacturing Deviation must be issued and authorized to avoid the possibility of using the part in an older release where the non- critical parameter in the substitutable application may be critical in the older design. I have seen this happen when Design Engineers are using the same part in very different circuits. Whenever two or more parts have any form, fit, or function variances, then each should receive their own internal part numbers to avoid any application conflicts in past, present, or future designs. Thank you for commenting on this as it brings to everyone's attention this very important consideration.
This is particularly true if you have a part which has one or more Reliabiity levels being used for different contracts within the same company. The only safe ay to accomplish this is to have a separate Preferred Parts List (PPL) for each contract with the reliability level of the part being one of the part parameters specified. I realize that this occurs mostly within the Aerospace community. but this only further supports the tight control needed for each part being used so that the exact part (as determined by the DE and the CE AND the end product customer's requirements) is used appropriately.
I think it may be time to write an article on the PPL (Perferred Parts List) and the selection criteria for identifying the candidates for the list. Because this list is a subset of the Item Master, the component selection guidelines are adhered to in practice, but there is a super selection process that brings a component to PPL status. Look for this in the next article for the Best Practices series.
I've very appreciated the article and clear schema used for summarizing guidelines for composing professional docs. In the electronic world, we could say english as preferred languages is a must, but I am wondering how could be solved issues on translation while we are living in a global market. Usually, electronic or online services for translate paper don't work quite well for tech docs.
Always good to hear from you. You reminded me of my early days at Fairchild R&D. I had three years of German under my belt and so I was tasked to translate technical documents written by German engineers. Some of those papers were really hard to convert to English because of a word like "voltaspannung" , meaning literally "fountain of volts" properly translates into electromotive force, or EMF, or simply voltage. So, I can see where translating tech docs would present a problem, especially in the text heavy sections. However, the units of measure, and electrical symbols are very uniform throughout the world so "uH" means micro Henry and Tphl means propagation delay low to high etc. So then one is left with the task of knowing what each measurement or characteristic the symbol or value applies to. Companies like Panasonic have Japanese Datasheets, but also publish the same Datasheets in English. Usually, if you contact a manufacturer and ask for a version in your language, they can help you with specific information, or will be willing to help you translate a document to your understanding. I can imagine the worst case scenario, where no one speaks, writes, or translates with any accuracy and the design is adversely impacted. I would be interested in hearing what your experience has been with this issue. Also, I would like to hear how anyone else has dealt with this. Any takers?
Here we are. You are absolutely right, very good and professional perspective (as usual, from you). In general simbols for measurement are international and recognized abroad, personally I've felt very exciting experiences in translation for text within pages and numbers and dates. In a huge part of the world, people don't use Western calendar and numbers are not using Western digit, I would mention for example the Gulf region or China. In my case, the solution was to learn about local alphabetic, then I've had the chance for increase my knowledge, as per (I believe) your experience with German language.
It looks like Greek to me. Epsilon and omicron or omega. I have never seen this meaning 45 degrees. Can you scan the datasheet and send it to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org? Anyone else ever see this? Epsilon usually means "Sum" in formulas. Maybe it is borrowed from another discipline like the building or construction business.
So I zoomed in on your symbol and it looks like epsilon (small) or Sigma (large). I think the omicron is just the degree symbol common accross all usage. I suspect that the symbol was either a typo, or represented a quantity from an earlier calculation on the datasheet carried forward. It could be that it represents a summation of vectors or a non-conventional use for phase angle. I would really like to see that datasheet.
There are some great datasheet archive websites that store every revision of a datasheet and most application notes that refers to the part. It's useful to an engineer to have the complete data set to pick from.
Every datasheet store in the world has huge gaps in their data. Especially PDF datasheets pre 2000. In the 90s datasheets and application notes would disappear from manufacturer websites and be gone forever.
It is nice to work with parts from reputed semiconductor vendors. However, when one is to employ specialized semiconductor parts from small manufacturer, data is very limited. It is very difficult to enhance the circuit function in different topology. Designer task becomes very daunting.
It is also important to read about parts information other then electrical and mechanical characteristics. RoHS compliance, country of origin (free from political troubles), long term stability of vendor and their financial health is also quite relevant in selecting vendor and parts.
-hm and All,
This is one of two forms I use to save myself a lot of work in selecting or qualifying new or alternate source parts. It takes into consideration the advice of -hm and then some more key items. I give the factory or distributor rep this URL and ask them to complete the form and submit it with the sample parts they are offering. Together with the "Component Information Request" form, I am asking the person selling me the parts to do all the research before I can accept their samples. Questions like, " How long have the parts been in production?" and "What are the reliability numbers?" etc., help me qualify both the part and supplier quickly. More importantly, it helps me disqualify the part and not have to spend unnecessary time in house with qualification procedures. The Reps fill out the forms and often discover the parts are not good alternates as Operating Characteristics may be different or unacceptable. Just give your supplier the URL every time they want to introduce a part and you will have a much easier time with sample part management and allowing or disallowing a supplier as well.
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Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
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Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.