The inevitable has finally arrived. An embedded board in your application has been discontinued by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Your company needs a critical embedded board, and revenue depends on timely delivery. But the OEM cannot build additional boards for you and the franchised suppliers don’t have any inventory left. What can you do?
Predictably, once an embedded board has been discontinued, sourcing reliable spares and repairs is a long-term problem.
Sourcing EOL’d Boards
After a product has been End-of-Life (EOL) by an OEM, using Google to find your discontinued embedded boards isn’t the most judicious way to proceed, but what other options do you have?
Maybe you’ll get lucky on eBay. Or perhaps a non-franchised dealer has an extra board sitting on a shelf. You track down brokers, search inventory databases.
Then, you contact a franchised dealer where there’s a glimmer of hope. Success—you find a board!
It’s a Risky Business
However, when you receive the board, you discover it’s the wrong model—all that time wasted. That’s the worst that will happen, if you’re lucky.
Purchasing from unknown sources presents risks that will not only cost you time and money but also leave you vulnerable to counterfeits. When buying from brokers and other non-franchised sources, it is not uncommon to receive boards compromised by poor storage, damaged components, and questionable functionality.
The Long and Winding Road
Unfortunately, finding one board that meets your immediate requirements does nothing to ensure or support the ongoing life-cycle demands of your application.
As time goes on, the issue of the embedded boards you need being discontinued is going to keep coming up. The previously described method of “quick and dirty” sourcing is at best a reactive short-term solution to a problem that requires a long-term fix.
A New Approach
Although searching for new boards might seem to be the obvious approach, it can actually end up hurting you and your company in the long run.
Instead of scouring the corners of the embedded supply chain, it may make more sense for you to focus on fixing the supply chain. This can be done by working with a trusted partner of the OEM to create a second source of supply that meets your life-cycle sustainment needs.
Supply Chain Fix
Fixing a supply chain by working with a Legacy Equipment Manufacturer (LEM) to create a second source of supply for an EOL’d embedded boards is fairly straightforward. Compared to other options, it also takes less time and presents lower risk.
An LEM works closely with the OEM, utilizing their original files and IP to ensure they have the proper equipment and processes to build boards that are identical to those you receive from the OEM.
An LEM will also work with the customer to establish life-cycle support plans, ensuring you will have access to replacement boards for as long as your program requires, regardless of the health of the supporting supply chain.
Due Diligence Pays Off
Until recently, it was thought that proactive planning and sustaining solutions to problems created by EOL and product discontinuance was nothing but a pipe dream.
However, creating a second source of supply, one that not only rebuilds the manufacturing capability but also offers long-term availability, is a real and viable option that offers the control and the predictability you’ve been searching for.