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Planned Obsolescence

Pioneer in Obsolescence Management and Legacy Sustainment for embedded technology

  • 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.

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

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