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end-of-life

Pioneer in Obsolescence Management and Legacy Sustainment for embedded technology

  • Counterfeit Components Hurt More Than Military Applications

    Counterfeit Components Hurt More Than Military Applications

    When reading the news around counterfeit components, much of the dialogue is driven by the defense industry. When you are dealing with systems that protect our national security and the lives of the people out in the field – you’re not dealing with counterfeits in a bunch of trivial electronics. You’re taking necessary steps to protect the lives of men and women who depend on the systems for their safety. Since 2011 more than 1800 cases of counterfeit components were reported in defense applications, including mission computers operating the THAAD missile system, in the Air Force’s C-27J, in the Navy’s P-8A, and in electromagnetic interference filters on an SH-60B helicopter.

    However, the trouble with counterfeits isn’t limited to the defense industry and the military. They’re just currently the ones driving the conversation and legislation such as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Sec. 818.

  • Obsolescence: Too Soon or Not Soon Enough?

    Obsolescence: Too Soon or Not Soon Enough?

    It is strange how onboarding the concept of legacy sustainment can change the way you look at the world around you. On a recent road trip along one of the nation’s many two-lane highways, I found myself wondering about the thousands upon thousands of wooden utility poles dotting the landscape. How often are they repaired? […]

  • Counterfeit Components: More than parts — it is about people

    Counterfeit Components: More than parts — it is about people

    With the dialog about counterfeits in the supply chain, it is easy to lose track of what counterfeits actually mean.  Yes, they will hurt your business. Yes, they can lead to heavy penalties and jail time, but counterfeits can also lead to jeopardizing lives; a risk that could otherwise have been avoided.

    I am always looking for recent numbers and reports to keep the topic fresh and moving forward. But, recently, as I researched my paper for the upcoming SMTA International conference, I’ve come across some new numbers that drives home, once again, how vulnerable everyone is to the issues around counterfeits.

    I personally take an average of 2-4 flights every month. According to the FAA, the amount of travel Americans are doing both for business and recreation is increasing. It is projected that the total number of people flying commercially on U.S. airlines will increase from 732 million to 746 million in 2013, and increase to 1.2 billion by 2032. And in 2010 the FAA estimated that some 520,000 counterfeit parts make their way into planes each year.

  • COTS: A “reactive” good idea

    COTS: A “reactive” good idea

    Following a directive from the US military in the early 1990s, the defense industry made a shift from using custom embedded electronic components made to military specifications to commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components.  Since the overall share of the DoD as a consumer was expected to shrink over time, this move to reduce costs took a practical […]

  • Refurbished Boards: What works today may not be reliable tomorrow

    Refurbished Boards: What works today may not be reliable tomorrow

    Saying that something is “good enough for government work” is often meant as a joke and the reference implies “mediocre work.” The irony is that “government work” is often highly sophisticated; systems are designed and engineered to operate in the most extreme environmental conditions for a very long period of time.

    I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with a talented component engineer who has spent much of his career working in the defense industry.  During the course of our discussion I learned that some aviation systems need ICs to operate in temperature extremes ranging from -55°C to 125°C; ground units often travel in harsh environmental conditions (e.g. fighting extreme heat and sand storms in deserts) while being exposed to hostile attacks; satellites traveling through orbit are exposed to protons and heavy ions from solar flares, yet must operate reliably in space.

  • ERAI Executive Conference: Gaining Momentum in the Fight against Counterfeits

    ERAI Executive Conference: Gaining Momentum in the Fight against Counterfeits

    Managing components at-risk of going EOL requires proactive planning, otherwise critical systems become increasingly at-risk for encountering counterfeits

    Managing components at-risk of going EOL requires proactive planning, otherwise critical systems become increasingly at-risk for encountering counterfeits.
    Photo by Sebastian Dooris

    Managing components at risk of going EOL requires proactive planning. If this vital step is not implemented, critical systems run into increased risk of exposure to counterfeits. Two topics that program managers never want to hear about are counterfeit components, and end-of-life (EOL).  While it is possible to come across counterfeit components on active products, this risk can generally be mitigated by implementing smart buying practices, such as purchasing from a franchised distribution line or directly from the original component manufacturer (OCM).  Unfortunately, as components go EOL, yet are still needed in critical systems, they become difficult to find and increasingly more expensive. These facts combined with often careless buying practices, leave the embedded supply chain exposed to counterfeit components. These risks only increase as systems age.

  • The Risks of EOL: Lifetime Buy in “real world” terms

    The Risks of EOL: Lifetime Buy in “real world” terms

    In the past we’ve talked about the challenges of Last-time Buy and overstock.  In Dr. Sandborn’s CALCE Obsolescence Management training, this question illustrates the challenges and risks in regards to what customers can face, at the time of EOL.  The answer might be easy if you were looking at a “bridge buy”, where you only need enough to get you to the point of a planned upgrade.  If I had to only buy shoes to get me through five years it would be challenging but I could probably come up with a pretty good estimate based on the last five years of my life.

  • The Human Factor: When losing older workers leads to obsolescence

    The Human Factor: When losing older workers leads to obsolescence

    Ask anyone who drives an older car.  As the system ages, it develops its own quirks.  You have to jiggle the shifter in park to get the keys out of the ignition.  You have to pump the gas twice before it starts up on a cold day.  The AC has to be turned off when going up a steep hill on days over 96 degrees.  A particular brand of brakes work better when driving in California, as opposed to Montana.  You know that you can get away with just 2/3rds of the thread on the bolts, but only for 6 weeks.

    In short, you know that system inside and out: all the bugs, the features, and quirks that impact operation and repair.

    Unless your mechanic is into vintage cars, though, he’s not going to relish working on an older vehicle.    A younger mechanic may tell you the car is “old” and you’re better off just getting a new one – just when the old one was about to become a “classic.”

    Not everyone, however, wants to — or can afford to — just buy a new car. The same goes for trying to sustain a legacy mission-critical system.

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