EOL Components: How To Mitigate Supply Chain Disturbances

What Are EOL Components

Most engineers despise the term “obsolescence.” A successful, dependable product may be made unmanufacturable by a single component that has reached End Of Life (EOL), or a new design hasn’t even gone into production and one of the chips has been removed by the manufacturer. Sometimes EOL Components are integrated circuits, other times it’s connectors or something else related to the PCB Assembly. Most components have a limited lifespan, and even the tiniest, cheapest, seemingly inconsequential component might jeopardize the manufacturability of an entire product line.

What causes component obsolescence?

When electrical components are no longer available from the original manufacturer to their original specification, they are considered an obsolete part. Because electronics are often designed to need that exact component, it may create severe issues.

The rate of component obsolescence corresponds to the rate of technological development. Key components may soon become outdated — they are designated as ‘end-of-life’ (EOL), which means they will no longer be manufactured to that standard. They become OOS (out of stock parts).

To avoid being caught off guard by an unexpected EOL notice, firms must include obsolescence management into their supply chain management.

What exactly is planned obsolescence?

There are various reasons why a component may become unavailable in less-than-planned ways. Some are the consequence of technology advancements, new commercial demands, dwindling demand, or just a supplier’s desire to produce new sales.

Technology advances, and an outdated component may be phased out owing to inefficiency, lack of durability, or loss of usefulness. A new component may better serve a product and the client, thus the old one is no longer available for purchase.

The component’s demand is dwindling as the items for which it is intended become unpopular or outdated.

For business reasons, the original manufacturer decides to intentionally terminate the life of a product and introduces a newer version.

Locate a dependable distributor

Finding an experienced and proactive distributor to assist you through these challenging times is one of the greatest strategies to cope with component obsolescence. They will be able to get those difficult-to-find components, or if they cannot or are no longer supported, they will most likely be able to discover a suitable substitute that will work for your product.

Whether you like it or not, components will change.

The components utilized in the creation of your PCBA may go through a variety of alterations. In certain cases, a component’s specs for either performance or physical size may be modified.

Although these modifications are typically minimal, they might have an effect on your design. Changes that are more likely to influence your board include when components are in limited supply, out of stock, or their costs have changed. However, the component change that will have the most influence on your designs will be for those components that will no longer be accessible, often known as EOL. In these circumstances, component providers may replace an older component with a newer version or discontinue production entirely if it is no longer in demand.

You are most likely quite busy building your product as a design engineer. You hardly have time to locate the items you need, much alone figure out their estimated lifecycles and lead times. Here is where your CM’s component engineers may assist you by monitoring the health of the components you use and alerting you to possible issues that may arise.

Planning for End-of-Life Components

Because not all CMs provide component engineering services, it’s critical to choose one that does. After that, your CM may assist you in planning for EOL components by completing the following:

Monitoring part EOL notifications with certified component engineers.

Giving you quick notice of EOL components that may have an impact on the manufacture of your goods.

Working with component brokers to arrange last-minute purchases to have your prototype or production units manufactured before EOL components become unavailable.

Providing design insight, test assessment, and comparative performance for components that are not pin-compatible alternatives, as well as recommending pin-compatible component replacement possibilities.

Assisting with PCB designs in order to facilitate component replacements.

When you work with a CM that has a competent component engineering department, you will have the peace of mind that there will be no surprises. The CM’s EOL strategy will be in place well before the components go out of supply, giving you enough time to redesign and requalify your products in a timely way. Furthermore, by working with a CM that has long-term connections with their component manufacturers and distributors, you can be certain that the components you want for your products will be available when you need them.

Methods for dealing with component obsolescence

Although it is inconvenient, component obsolescence does not have to represent a danger to your business. Below are some techniques for coping with it:

Stay ahead of the game

Part of controlling obsolescence is being ready for announcements and having your ear to the ground in terms of timescales and viable alternatives if this does occur. On a daily basis, it might be difficult to be proactive rather than reactive, but this attitude can substantially help you.

Understanding the reasons of obsolescence is a smart place to start since it will help you understand and perhaps predict when it will occur.

Maintain a flexible mindset

Similarly, when it comes to obtaining components, it is critical to be adaptable at all times. You may have favored suppliers and methods of operation, but an end-of-life statement may throw everything out the window.

Furthermore, while considering obsolescence risks, your plan must be adaptable and take into consideration the fact that each product will have distinct requirements.

Forecasting may be used to predict demand

Of course, predicting component obsolescence may be difficult, but being prepared in advance by employing demand forecasting can help you cope with it. Knowing where demand for a given product is expected to be at specific periods may be incredibly valuable. This implies that a corporation can stock the appropriate quantity in advance while also planning for probable obsolescence and the amounts necessary to cope with it.

How Vinatronic Can Help

Our staff has years and years of component knowledge and industry connections. We can work with purchasing teams and engineers to mitigate EOL disturbances. Reach out to our team for a free PCB Assembly quote or if you need to source an obsolete component. 

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