“Best practice” obsolescence management is essential to PCB design companies, if they are to keep abreast of change in the engineering industry and maintain harmony with their customers. At the very least, you should have a tight line of communication between yourself and any component engineering firms you use, to ensure you get product change notification (PCN) alerts well before components become obsolete.
Good obsolescence management depends on harmony between several independent players: system design engineers; marketing departments; component engineering firms and others on the supply chain. Unfortunately, obsolescence has been a problem in the component engineering industry for some time, especially with respect to defense and aerospace hardware design.
The explosion in component technology in the 1990s led to many component engineering companies concentrating on the commercial market and OTC (off-the-shelf) components incompatible with existing electronic hardware. Added to this were environmental compliance initiatives like the RoHS directive.
Component obsolescence has been tackled in part by the establishment of organizations like the Component Obsolescence Group (COG). Founded in the UK in 1997, it now has counterparts in numerous other countries, linked by GIDEP (the Government Industry Data Exchange Program) and other factors.
Over the years, numerous obsolescence management strategies have been formulated by individual companies. However, these often depend on sourcing replacement components from the ‘grey’ market, where there is no guarantee you will find what you need or, if you do, that it will be the genuine article.
At Enventure Technologies, we offer a comprehensive range of component engineering services covering obsolescence management. They include component cross reference strategies, PCN alerts and identification of reliable second sources.