When is a part called "obsolescent"?

08 Oct 2012
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Generally, a distinction is made between six different reasons why obsolescence can occur. To avoid or minimize the effects of obsolescence it is inevitable and essential to understand why obsolescence can appear (see also Reasons for the Occurrence of Obsolescence):

  1. Technological Evolution
  2. Technological Revolutions
  3. Market Forces
  4. Environmental Policies and Restriction
  5. Allocation
  6. Planned Obsolescence

The effects of obsolescence influence primarily products (especially industrial ones) like materials, textiles, software, electronic- and mechanical parts as well as elements necessary to manufacture these products such as specifications, processes, standards and soft resources.

Consequently, this raises the question: "When is a part called obsolescent and when does obsolescence occur?"

Basically obsolescence of a product starts immediately after the information about discontinuation has been announced from its original manufacturer. This is normally done by a product discontinuance notice (PDN) or a message about the end of life (EOL). Also an announcement for a life-time-buy (LTB) or a product change notification (PDN) could be the start of obsolescence. However, it has to be considered that usually no supplier (especially none of the big ones) informs all its previous customers that the parts are no longer available in future. As mentioned before, the situation where a supplier has to stop his production, e.g. because of insolvency, could be the beginning when a product is becoming obsolescent and this also happens in general without providing information to the customers. Such action reveals especially one of the big problems of low-volume manufacturers as most of them are usually buying through distributors and so they may not receive the notice of obsolescence directly. In the electronic sector particularly, where only a few companies manufacture basic products, there are companies, with for example more than 10,000 employees, are considered only small fry. Therefore, these "small" industrial consumers have to rely on their distributors. Some part manufacturers provide a notification service for their customers e.g. by e-mail for which anybody may sign up. But to get the data right remains the responsibility of those who are affected by obsolescence.

At this point, if not before, it becomes clear that only a well-conceived obsolescence management system safeguards a company from those aforementioned problems. To counteract the problems of obsolescence it would be essential to know which state of its life cycle the required parts for the own production are in. The objective is to be able to forecast the day when vendor parts are getting obsolete in order to have enough time for reaction.

Last modified on Monday, 15 October 2012 10:51
Alexander Edenstrasser

Alexander Edenstrasser finished his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Rosenheim. Now he is studying Technology and Management within the master degree program of the Technical University of Munich. During his studies he had the possibility to attend a seminar in operations and supply chain management where he wrote a seminar paper about obsolescence including practical solving methods. During his research phase he came in contact with ABSC GmbH. There he had the opportunity to work as a trainee within the field of obsolescence management. He prepared training material for reactive, proactive and strategic obsolescence management.

As an innovative full service system integrator in the fields of engineering services and IT services ABSC GmbH supports many international companies along their development and operation of business processes with complete solutions since over 20 years. ABSC creates customized and innovative obsolescence management concepts and provides competent, reliable and sustainable optimization of processes, projects and infrastructure. ABSC supports businesses as long-term partner for the definition and implementation of customer specific complete obsolescence management solutions and round off their range of services with specific seminars and events.


Website: www.obsolescence-management.net

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