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.
How End-of-Life sometimes feels…
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.
After our evacuation from New Orleans, we wrote about the part that collaboration played in our experiences. While we focused on how the collaboration mostly focused on safely addressing an incoming hurricane; generally when we talk about collaboration here at GDCA, we’re talking about collaboration in the sense of an integrated supply chain poised to protect the embedded industry from unplanned obsolescence.
That is why we’re taking a moment to celebrate and announce that DMSMS 2012 is back in the saddle for November 26-29, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.
We know that in the face of obsolescence no one can afford to be isolated in the supply chain. That is why we are pleased to announce that in partnership with Curtiss-Write, IHS, and Rochester Electronics we will be presenting on the realities of cross-industry sustainment: Building an Integrated Supply Chain to Support Warfighter Systems.
Proactive obsolescence management can often be an adventure. I like to think of it as a cross-industry supply chain game of chess. On one side, you have legacy experts like GDCA, with a quarter of a century of experience sustaining legacy systems. On the other side you have counterfeit risk, disruptive technology and time.
This year, we had an additional player when it comes to long-term support adventures: Hurricane Isaac.
“DMSMS” is a defense industry term and you can’t talk about embedded obsolescence management without eventually coming across it. For anyone not familiar with it, it stands for Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages. These shortages can happen due to ongoing disruptive technology (going from NAND to DRAM), environmental disaster (such a flooding in Thailand or the nuclear emergencies in Japan), and plain old EOL. And, because you can’t always predict how obsolescence and end-of-life is going to impact a supply chain, you can imagine that the DMSMS conference is something we at GDCA look forward to every year.
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.”
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.
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 […]
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.
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.