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Managing the Unmanageable: Customers & PLM

As I pointed out in an earlier blog, the pace of component obsolescence is accelerating. This is prompting partners in the electronics supply chain to pay more attention to product lifecycle management (PLM). Without getting too technical, PLM is the stuff suppliers and customers have to worry about if an electronic component becomes obsolete.

In the first installation of this blog, we discussed original device manufacturer (supplier) concerns. In this blog, we'll talk about customers.

OEMs often flock to the latest and greatest component offering to enhance designs. In some cases, selecting the latest iteration of a product family — the x86, for example — ensures there will be a long-term supply of that device available. In other cases, component makers decide a product family has run its course and discontinues that product. If an OEM's end product outlives its key components, finding parts for maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO) could become a problem.

OEMs can get some insight on a component's lifecycle and plan for its obsolescence by working with suppliers and distributors. Companies such as Rochester Electronics, for example, acquire EOL component inventory directly from suppliers. In the event that inventory runs out, Rochester receives residual die, masks, and intellectual property (IP) from suppliers and then re-manufactures components. If those tools aren't available, engineers can develop a product with the same form, fit, and function as the original semiconductor, ensuring an ongoing supply of devices for as long as an OEM needs them.

By working closely with suppliers, semiconductor suppliers serving this market can help OEMs be proactive in product lifecycle management. By planning for EOL, OEMs can have a customer support plan in place — before it's even needed.

6 comments on “Managing the Unmanageable: Customers & PLM

  1. SP
    November 8, 2013

    Obsolescence management is one of the critical steps or need in product life cycle. I would say its as important as designing somethng new.

  2. t.alex
    November 9, 2013

    I am surprised to learn that Rochester  Electronics does spend the necessary effort to reproduce EOL components in case OEM still need them. Will there be (huge) extra costs for the OEM? 

  3. Daniel
    November 11, 2013

    “OEMs can get some insight on a component's lifecycle and plan for its obsolescence by working with suppliers and distributors. Companies such as Rochester Electronics, for example, acquire EOL component inventory directly from suppliers. In the event that inventory runs out, Rochester receives residual die, masks, and intellectual property (IP) from suppliers and then re-manufactures components.”

    George, it seems to be a good concept. It again depends up on how closely they are working each other and the response based on the requirement. I think life cycle of the components are merly depends up on the circumstances, which they are working.

  4. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 12, 2013

    I'd be interested in understanding if parts are becoming obsolte more quickly. Has the speed of technology increased the difficulty in keeping up with the parts lifecycle?

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 12, 2013

    Good question, t.alex. What would the premium be, @George? I'm glad to know that vendors are willing to cooperate in helpoing other organizations take over support of EOL components. I could see a scenario where they would rather pressure organizations to redesign and use new components instead.

  6. Anand
    November 21, 2013

    The pace of technology is only slowed down by manufacturers still clinging on to old technology. For example, Samsung is still making smart phones for the android base and doing nothing to increase assets in different fields of technology. The R&D section of any company is not able to move forward quickly because of the lifecycle of components. And if any manufacturer understands this and makes devices from mediocre components, so as to giving the R&D chances to move forward, they are pulled down by multiple customer dissatisfaction issues, and thus they are losing valuable customers.

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