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Manufacturing

Pioneer in Obsolescence Management and Legacy Sustainment for embedded technology

  • COTS: A “reactive” good idea (continued)

    COTS: A “reactive” good idea (continued)

    To answer the question, we need to look at the issues of innovation from a different angle; namely economics and markets. Free markets are a wonderful concept as long as the motivation and incentives are aligned in the right way for all the players in order to achieve the set objective. So let us look […]

  • DNA tagging: A post production anti-counterfeit solution?

    DNA tagging: A post production anti-counterfeit solution?

    No matter what your opinion; DNA tagging is currently one of the top methods being discussed to ensure component authentication.  The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) even issued a Request for Information on the subject.

    Unfortunately, due to the costs projected and associated with DNA tagging and authentication, few businesses appear to be looking forward to the prospect.

    At first glance DNA tagging, like many of the industry’s current solutions, makes sense:  increase the complexity of the marks so that counterfeiters are unable reproduce it. DNA would be a “tag” both difficult and expensive to try and recreate.  However, DNA tagging and many of the solutions being proposed are “point forward” solutions that, in order to be truly effective, would need to be implemented at the component manufacturing level, not once parts have left the factory floor.

  • Cutting Electronic Waste out of the Counterfeit Supply Chain

    Cutting Electronic Waste out of the Counterfeit Supply Chain

    According to the EPA, although electronic waste (or sometimes known as “e-waste”) is less than 10% of the current solid waste stream, it is growing 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream.   In 2005 an estimated 26-37 million computers became obsolete and the Consumer Electronics Association reported that roughly 304 million electronics—were removed from US households.

    E-waste impacts the international community in many ways.  New innovations in industrial and commercial technology have forced obsolescence in equipment like computers, mobile phones and televisions, and refrigerators.  As consumers keep up with changing trends, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) estimates that 20-50 million metric tons of e-waste are generated each year and much of this electronic waste gets shipped overseas to developing areas in Asia, Africa, and South America.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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