Is Component Obsolescence New to Aerospace / Avionics / Defense / Automotive / Industrial / Medical Electronics?

Till recent years, many component manufacturers were producing military grade components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, transistors, etc. as per military standards. And the availability of these military components is long enough to support the end product life cycle. And multiple manufacturers were producing components that are qualified per military standards. So, each of the component had equivalent alternate parts from multiple sources. Component obsolescence was a rare situation to military grade components. And now with increased rate of component obsolescence, it became a NEW serious issue to Aerospace / Avionics / Defense / Automotive / Industrial / Medical Electronics.

What are the Reasons for Obsolescence of Military Grade Components?

  • Defense/Aerospace/Medical/Automotive manufacturers are very small fish in the large sea of the semiconductor world. With the sky-rocketed consumer electronic appliances, the demand for application/technology specific components is increased. The defense market is less than 0.5 percent of the semiconductor industry and gains little attention or influence over the semiconductor suppliers. Component manufacturers are leaving the manufacturing military components, to seek new opportunities in the fast growing consumer electronics.
  • Migration to RoHS. Due to RoHS directive, the rate of component obsolescence has been multiplied, as the component manufacturers stopped the production of non-RoHS components.
  • Technology upgrades. Due to advancement in electronics technology, the component manufacturers releasing millions new technology components into the market every year. And these new components push the old components out.

Manufacturers of Aerospace / Avionics / Defense / Automotive / Industrial / Medical Electronics face significant challenges in creating and supporting their systems. Especially, validation, acceptance and qualification processes for design changes or refreshes are highly time-consuming. And these are hardly the only obsolescence challenges they face.

Read more at Obsolescence of Electronic Components and Impact on Electronic products.

How to mitigate the Risk of Obsolescence?

  • Usage of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components save money, as they are much cheaper than military components, but they almost meet the quality and reliability requirements.
  • Having contract with component manufacturer for certain period, to supply the components as and when required. It is somewhat costly compared to the normal buying.
  • Die banking at the manufacturer. It is possible to order the components for future usage, so the component manufacturer stores raw materials required for our future orders.
  • Costly ‘last time buys’ (LTB). Buying the components in bulk and store them in inventory for future needs.
  • Finding nearest equivalent alternate part, to reduce the redesign cost.

Read more at Reactive and Proactive Obsolescence Management for Long Life Electronics (Aerospace/ Avionics/ Defense/ Automotive/ Industrial/ Medical).