People worry about freshness when it comes to produce and other food stuffs, but also, apparently, when it comes to electronics components.
Historically, OEMs have been concerned that components are no longer “fresh,” that the operation of the components may degrade over time. Some demanded that components, and especially semiconductors, be marked with the date of manufacturing so that buyers could confirm that age was not an issue.
The debate continued. As long as a decade ago, the National Electronic Distributor Association (NEDA), which is now part of the Electronic Component Industry Association, brought together a task force to consider this issue. In a written statement published in 2002, they discouraged the use of date codes:
NEDA members, electronic component manufacturers and distributors recommend that electronic component customers avoid the specification of general date code restrictions when ordering electronic components from electronic component manufacturers and their authorized component distributors.
The group felt that these codes had the potential to delay order entry and order fulfillment, which in turn delays product delivery. “General date code restrictions result in further aging inventory in the supply chain by disrupting normal FIFO (First In First Out) consumption,” the NEDA group said.
Fast-forward to today, and there remains no agreement on date codes. In fact, policies and procedures vary widely from vendor to vendor. Some semiconductor makers promise component ages of two years or less, while others extend the date to five years. Others have little to say on the subject. “There are no definite standards about date restrictions and the real picture is very vague,” said Lev Shapiro, owner of Component Master and EBN blogger. “During last few years, I have received a lot of queries regarding this topic from purchasing, QA departments, and incoming inspection teams.”
Let's get together and discuss the best way to ensure electronics component quality for manufacturing. Should date codes be used? Or are current quality practices (i.e., requirements around packaging, packing shelf life, storage, and warranty) and product change notification sufficient?
We'll be gathering in the EBN chat room at 2:00 p.m. EST/11:00 a.m. PST on Wednesday, November 13 with Lev Shapiro as our guest. Bring us your thoughts, opinions, and questions. Hope to see you there!