Once your electronic embedded board has reached EOL, but your system still needs to be viable, you will want to talk with an experienced equipment manufacturer that specializes in legacy sustainment.
A Legacy Equipment Manufacturer (LEM) is a specialized embedded board producer that supports and services embedded board level products after OEM’s are no longer able to support the product and EOL notices have been issued. What sets LEMs apart is that they are authorized to use the OEM’s original IP to build electronic boards that are fit form and functionally exact to the product the OEM designed and supplied.
To the novice this sounds simple enough: Procure the IP. Build the board. Deliver it. Unfortunately it is not that easy. At this stage in the lifecycle of an embedded board (post EOL), traditional supply chains close and basic procedures used when ordering from an OEM are seriously challenged — quoting, supply and delivery— everything changes. And there are many more issues you would not even know to consider.
Because you may be the only customer ordering this particular embedded board, LEMs cannot keep finished goods on the shelf; they’re typically build to order. This translates to longer lead times and, in many cases, availability of components will be tested all together.
How many boards will you need? How long will you need them? Funding constraints? Contractual requirements? Planning is now necessary in a way that it wasn’t before these boards became EOL: Components available today may not be available in six months or even three weeks. Sources must be vetted, parts must be vetted, testing capability ensured, documentation kept complete.
An LEM not only assists you in understanding how to think about your systems and applications, they not only help to guide you in what to do to maintain your system for as long as needed, LEMs build the boards your OEM no longer manufactures. It’s good to have an ally to keep your business up and running.
Understanding the differences between Legacy Equipment Manufacturing and working with an OEM is taking a proactive approach to obsolescence management.