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Obsolescence

Pioneer in Obsolescence Management and Legacy Sustainment for embedded technology

  • What do vintage cars and embedded boards have in common?

    What do vintage cars and embedded boards have in common?

    They both get harder to maintain as they get older, and if you don’t plan for obsolescence, they can both fail.

    It’s common sense.  As things get older, they become more expensive to maintain. For example, an antique car was state-of-the art when it first came out. It performed beautifully, and the parts were easy to find. If it had any real problems, it could be taken into the dealer for repairs. However, now that the car is a classic, it requires a lot more upkeep. In the past, it only needed to be taken in for oil changes and tune ups. Now it needs a new transmission, replacement brakes, a new timing belt and a new radiator… and as time passes, the mechanic can’t even get the parts he needs to fix it.

    As the components become harder to find, the odds that your car can even feasibly be repaired get more remote.  At first, you might scour junkyards and advertise online, looking for those crucial pieces of equipment, but eventually you will probably end up having to find someone who can reverse engineer or custom build  the needed parts for you. And now a part that may have been $300 new is going to cost you hundreds more — if not thousands.

    With each transaction, that car gets more and more expensive to fix and maintain, but some cars just can’t be replaced.

  • Legacy and NI Week 2012

    Legacy and NI Week 2012

    When people think of “legacy”, they often think of what is being passed along or left to the future.  We believe a business’ legacy is the lasting mark they make on the industry, impacting future generations of innovators. That is why I look forward to the keynote addresses at NI Week.  Each day demonstrates the […]

  • Obsolescence and why you can’t always just make more.

    Obsolescence and why you can’t always just make more.

    When I first began my work with GDCA one of the questions I had was “Why is dealing with obsolete components not just about making more parts?”

    As I have come to learn, unfortunately, obsolescence management is not just as simple as “making more parts.”

    Imagine you manufacture various components.  In the 1960s, the computers you were making parts for were relatively simple, without many customers who could even afford computers; quantities were low, the manufacturing was relatively easy, and products generally lasted longer.

    Let’s jump forward to today. Over time, and as technology has evolved (Moore’s Law), your fabrication company’s production has also evolved. Now with each product line, you are cranking out hundreds of thousands of parts each day. Customers who need 50 parts are not happy to hear of a 5000 part minimum order quantity (MOQ).  And besides, to some the manufacturers even a 5000 MOQ on an older part can be a distraction.

  • No one wants to be left with EOL overstock

    No one wants to be left with EOL overstock

    On one of the blogs I read, someone commented: “If you’re concerned about counterfeits in obsolete components… don’t worry about to-be-discontinued components — just design them in, and buy what you need to support the product anyway.  Then you won’t have to worry about counterfeits.” On the surface and if you are only worried about […]

  • Does Innovation = Forced Obsolescence?

    Does Innovation = Forced Obsolescence?

    Is there a downside to new technology innovation? We all love and encourage innovation, but what is the hidden cost?

    Critical embedded applications in the Defense and Medical industry are a great example of where this question comes into play. Both these applications have people’s lives relying on them, and both require extended life cycles due to critical verification and certification requirements.

    If an OEM experiences sharp drop in demand for a particular embedded board, it doesn’t make any business sense to continue building more, and the board will likely become obsolete. Everyone understands that an OEM can’t remain competitive if they have to support every product they’ve ever developed… forever. But if that board is still being used in the defense or medical industry, suddenly the systems engineer is faced with diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages (DMSMS) and higher risk of exposure to counterfeits if obsolete components must now be sourced.

  • What does Brooks Stevens have to do with “Planned Obsolescence”?

    Creative Commons License by cpence. Some rights reserved. Licensing applicable to image only.

    The original Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, in the Henry Ford Museum

    You may not know about Brooks Stevens, and today is his birthday.

    Clifford Brooks Stevens, born June 7, 1911, was an American industrial designer of home furnishings, appliances, automobiles and motorcycles— as well as a graphic designer and stylist. At the time of his death, he was considered “a major force in industrial design.”

    If Google was to do a custom sketch for his birthday, it would probably be the widely recognized Oscar Mayer “Wienermobile” or the Harley-Davidson motorcycles body he designed in the 60s (production of new bikes are still based on Stevens’ body designs).

    But how many will reference a topic sure to light a fuse in any frugal consumer? Planned Obsolescence.

  • GDCA: Celebrating 25 Years of Legacy Support

    1987 takes us back: a dozen eggs were 65 cents, a gallon of gas was 89 cents, you and the family may have tuned-in to watch the premiere of a show called The Simpsons.  The last 25 years have been exciting for everyone. Technology has evolved at an amazing rate, and we are honored to support the legacy of this growth. It is because of this technology evolution that GDCA exists.

    In 1987, the embedded industry was only just beginning to feel the early pains being caused by the growing gap between obsolescence and the support needs of long-life systems.

    Foreseeing the difficulty and expensive this would mean for both OEMs and their customers to support what eventually became known as legacy applications, Martin Plotkin recognized the embedded industry needed an alternative.

    This vision paved the way for us to bridge the embedded obsolescence/legacy gap. We are proud of how far we’ve come in the 25 years since we opened our doors as GD California.  Today, as GDCA, we are still a quality manufacturer of legacy products, but with an accumulated track record and experience that provides insight and support for businesses worldwide.

  • Does the prospect of overstocking kill your critical embedded systems?

    With last-time-buy solutions, customers find themselves faced with either over-stocking so-called “obsolete” components, and phasing out older systems.

    2011 wasn’t an easy year for DRAM manufacturers. The move from notebooks towards tablets and technology using NAND flash did nothing to bolster a struggling semiconductor industry. In this type of scenario it becomes common for manufacturers to shift their focus from older technology to newer ones.  This process often leads to End-of-Life (EOL) decisions and component manufacturers sending out Last-Time-Buy (LTB) notices.

    In addition to the immediate challenge of feasibly supporting products with obsolete components, embedded OEMs must focus on latest-and-greatest solutions, developing new solutions to satisfy their customers’ evolving demands.  As the embedded industry shifts from older technology like DRAM to newer and more popular applications like NAND, customers can find themselves faced with a choice between over-stocking of so-called “obsolete” components, and phasing out older and less popular systems.

    So where does this leave older products that don’t have a lot of sales, but are still used by valued customers?

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