Data is Finding the Missing Puzzle Piece: Start with Strategic Obsolescence Management

By: SiliconExpert on August 20th, 2019

Business Area Challenges and the Evolution of Mitigation

Co-Authors:  Vern Densler, Senior Product Manager & George Karalias, Industry Executive Consultant

Doesn’t it irritate you when you’ve nearly completed a complex, masterpiece puzzle that you’ve been working on for days and you realize there’s one piece missing? It’s enough to send you into a rage.

Imagine that the one missing piece—or group of pieces, for that matter—is the critical component of a product that is key to your company’s revenue stream or even its survival.

When you look at a design, it’s critical to be aware of what parts go into it and how their availability could affect downstream production. Even that lowly capacitor could have a 36-week lead time. How’s that for a punch in the gut for your production line? Try explaining that type of delay to the board of directors.

Ask yourself this: Is there a “plan B” for your component if availability becomes a problem? Is there an alternate that can replace it? What is the end-of-life (EOL) status of the component? Are there other risks lurking in the wings?

That information is out there, but how do you extract the data you need and merge it into a viable product lifecycle management strategy? Will your design-stage bill of material be a reactive, proactive, or strategic document? If you’re managing data manually, then you’re going to fall behind quickly. There’s too much coming at you that you can miss. Help to decipher this data and pluck out what you need is out there—it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

In a reactive situation, you’re totally in the dark until something catastrophic happens. Then you’re scrambling to pick up the pieces and try to explain why your production and delivery schedules have been shattered. Who’s to blame? Who is the CFO going to throw under the bus at the next board meeting?

A proactive situation includes constant vigilance of component availability. Why is this important? Because a timely alert that a component is no longer going to be available gives you time to avoid a board re-design by looking for an alternate part or doing a last-time buy. But this part scramble can drain resources and time, which in turn affects the completion of other tasks.

In a proactive strategic situation, any component that is deemed high risk can be eliminated from the product in the design phase. Also, where a complete digital transformation has been adopted, planned tech refreshes to the design mitigates future obsolescence. The ability to predict and avoid trouble is always there, efficiently running in the background.

Part selection is not a downstream responsibility. The impact of an obsolete or long-lead-time part can be catastrophic to the entire production process. It could result in board re-designs with potential new and lengthy certifications as well as delays in time-to-market, causing you to miss the window of demand. It can also cause a higher cost in production as part alternatives are resourced and procured and manufacturing is rushed.

Surprisingly, most companies don’t take advantage of data that is easily available! This data puts you at an advantage over your competition. Integrated solutions with existing PLM and EDA platforms provide greater efficiency through the design phase and into the supply chain management stream.

Manual production planning methodologies may be in place that work, but they can be cumbersome and incomplete. Why not automate your options? Keep them in the forefront at all times. Having the data is only the beginning. Deciphering it in a way that makes it immediate and relevant is huge. You can’t make the right decision without the right research. By integrating SiliconExpert’s solutions into your product lifecycle management platforms, you will have the data you need without any unnecessary clutter.

Through the SiliconExpert CONNECT suite of data intelligence integrations, parts management becomes a breeze.  Your Designers, Component Engineers, and Supply Chain Managers will have instant access to real time data, enabling them to make better decisions, faster, without ever having to leave the tools they work in every day.  Best practices in parts management ensures product designs with the longest lifespan.

To learn more about proactive obsolescence management contact your local SiliconExpert representative at