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Get Smart About Green

Many electronics companies need components that, for one reason or another, have been discontinued by the manufacturer. At the same time, green legislation can make finding the right parts difficult.

Equipment with long lifecycles, such as medical systems, military and defense equipment, and industrial machinery, often needs repairs that require a component that was made 10 or more years ago. However, since the EU's Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) was adopted in 2005, many components containing lead (as one example) have been phased out.

For many OEMs, securing obsolete components means extensive searches on the Internet or finding a partner that can re-manufacture the required part. An even better solution is finding a partner that can re-manufacture that part with current environmental regulations in mind.

Electronics OEMs should partner with a company that specialize in meeting the need for obsolete products. These organizations that can:

  • Deliver authorized end-of-life and obsolete components.
  • Buy finished goods from suppliers.
  • Acquire the die and masks for those products if finished goods aren't available.
  • Offer the capability to re-manufacture or re-create products if other options aren't available.
  • Provide these services with the original manufacturers' authorized support, meaning suppliers stand 100 percent behind their products and their warranties.

Rochester Electronics' Extension-of-Life program, as one example, has authorized solutions that provide the best lead-free and “green” product solutions possible. When Rochester continues to manufacture a device that is no longer produced by the original manufacturer, the part can be made lead-free/green-compliant. For devices that were discontinued prior to the RoHS initiative, Rochester can draw from its wafer bank of more than 10 billion die, and continue to manufacture the device as fully lead-free/green-compliant. Depending on customer demand, these may be available in stock or made to order.

Re-manufactured and re-created parts then undergo a battery of “Original Engineer-Driven Test Protocols” to make sure they perform to spec. These include:

  • An electrical comparative analysis between the original manufacturer's device and the Rochester Electronics re-creation that proves that the components are electrically identical.  Dubbed “Rochester Semiconductor Identicality,” the service includes significantly more than just functional comparison. For example, identicality parameters include rise/fall times across temperature and voltage.
  • The use of proprietary criteria to measure central tendency, variation, position, process capability, and notable characteristics of all measured values.

Of course, organizations may be tempted to choose an unauthorized source for hard-to-find parts. There are dangers associated with this path. Obsolete and end-of-life (EOL) parts are available on the open market and many of them may indeed be “green,” but it is difficult for buyers to be certain of the device's origin. This confusion increases the risk of procuring the wrong part.

Many component manufacturers continue to produce both leaded and non-leaded devices during the RoHS transition. In some cases, the manufacturer uses the same part number for both devices; in other cases, separate part numbers are used. Authorized distributors work closely with their suppliers to make sure end customers got the right device regardless of part number.

Components bought and sold in the open market have no such guarantees. The only way to make sure an EOL or obsolete part performs to spec — and is green — is to buy from a component manufacturer, an authorized distributor, or an authorized re-manufacturer. Testing a part after it's been acquired could be a waste of time and money, especially if it turns out not to be green.

13 comments on “Get Smart About Green

  1. t.alex
    September 9, 2013

    We did encountered this problem before when some of the components were EOL, and we have to buy from some resellers. To be on the safe side we have to buy more than what we need in case of failure or fake parts. It is important that we always keep in check several trusted vendors or resellers when in need. 

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 10, 2013

    This is a good reminder of the importance of good planning both for contingency and in day to day. Ensuring an ongoing supply certainly can have any number of hitches.

  3. SP
    September 11, 2013

    Its great if rochester is working towards making obslete or eol or parts that are non rohs available. This is really needed. I remember when we were respinning few boards for rohs weee compliance and how non availability of many components created issue.

  4. Daniel
    September 11, 2013

    “Equipment with long lifecycles, such as medical systems, military and defense equipment, and industrial machinery, often needs repairs that require a component that was made 10 or more years ago. However, since the EU's Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) was adopted in 2005, many components containing lead (as one example) have been phased out.”

    George, how industry is going to face such challenges? Replacing these components with substitute at later stage is very difficult because of various reasons like all such components have to undergo various military and defence standards & tests.

  5. Daniel
    September 11, 2013

    “We did encountered this problem before when some of the components were EOL, and we have to buy from some resellers. To be on the safe side we have to buy more than what we need in case of failure or fake parts. It is important that we always keep in check several trusted vendors or resellers when in need. “

    Alex for normal operation we can by fom reseller or at worst case we can go with substitutes. But that's not the case with defence, avionics and military sector. There components are selecting based on certain grades and has to be qualified through set of parameters at various environmental conditions (Vibration, EMI, Pressure, Vacuum etc).

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    September 11, 2013

    With the newer and newer regulations regarding the hazardous materials and conflict materials coming into force every year , it is a tough challenge to maintain that good old electronics in defense, aerospace and industries having long life products.

    Could the some relaxation of the law be made for such situations – some extended deadline or something so that such old designs can still use non compliant parts till the end of the life of the main product ?

  7. Daniel
    September 12, 2013

    “With the newer and newer regulations regarding the hazardous materials and conflict materials coming into force every year , it is a tough challenge to maintain that good old electronics in defense, aerospace and industries having long life products.”

    Prabhakar, you are right. any change in component may end up in redesign of the new board because all the components have very much dependency.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 12, 2013

    @SP, understanding that every situation is different, what percentage of the components that you were dealing with fell into this category? Was it 10 percent? 50?

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 12, 2013

    @Prabhakar, as we found in our discussion on conflict minerals today, even though the laws go into effect, it may be years, as much as a decade before it it really enforced. I suspect that these organizations may take a “take our chances, wait and see” stance in some instances.

     

    On the other hand, these regulations are often made for really solid reasons, so organizations may have to make sacrifices for the greater good.

  10. t.alex
    September 13, 2013

    Jacob, yes that's true. For defence or avionics I think we might have to go greater lengths to purchase extra and stock up. Who knows one of these vendors will not exist anymore after 5 years.

  11. Wale Bakare
    September 15, 2013

    I am wondering about re-manufacturing or re-creation of old components for medical devices. Reliability and efficiency have to be main objectives when considering this.

  12. t.alex
    September 15, 2013

    Wale, perhaps cost and technology are the main issues. Old components are designed with much older technologies that is no longer used nowadays. 

  13. Daniel
    September 19, 2013

    “yes that's true. For defence or avionics I think we might have to go greater lengths to purchase extra and stock up. Who knows one of these vendors will not exist anymore after 5 years.”

    Alex, we are not stocking any materials for more than 12 months because the requirement and parameters can be change at any moment

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