Reasons for the Occurrence of Obsolescence

17 Jun 2012
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Market Change
One of the most common causes for obsolescence is a situation of market change (e.g. product innovation) which can lead to a decrease in demand for older products. So that economic production is not feasible anymore. This effect occurs very often for electronic components as of their short lifetimes. Shortages of production materials, manufacturer bankruptcies or seized manufacturing processes lead to obsolescence as well.

Technological Evolution
A new and mostly further developed generation of technology makes the old one obsolete. This happens frequently in the electronic industry. But also materials, processes, software, etc. are getting superseded by new ones. These new technologies are often cheaper to produce than their predecessors. Especially technologies with a high rate of innovation are affected by obsolescence caused by technological evolution. An example is given by computer hard-disks, where new ones are cheaper to produce, have more capacity, have faster access rates, are build smaller and are mostly sold for at least the same price than the old ones.

Technological Revolution
In terms of technological revolution old technologies are completely displaced by new ones. An example is given by Solid-State Drives (SSDs) where the usage of integrated circuit assemblies as memories is replacing the actual Hard-Disk Drives (HDDs). SSDs have longer lifetimes, faster excess rates, lower power consumptions, no rotating or moving parts and are less noisy compared to HDDs.

Environmental Policies and Restrictions
Obsolescence due to environmental policies and restrictions occurs when the government or interest groups are intervening with legal regulations and restrictions. Examples are the prohibition of inefficient filament lamps, the ban of plumb in soldering tin, etc..

Allocation
Allocation occurs when lead times for a product or part are increasing and if it is not possible for the user to react on these market changes. For example, if the demand rises (e.g. at the end of a recession) and a supplier cannot handle and satisfy all the orderings. Environmental disasters can result in allocation as well if they effect manufacturing companies and slow down production capacities of specific parts.

Planned Obsolescence
Planned obsolescence has been much more discussed since 1947 than obsolescence management itself. Regarding planned obsolescence there are many discussions and publications about our throwaway society and products where the lifetime is intentionally degraded to raise demand. There are many examples for planned obsolescence in the consumer sector, like light bulbs, ink-jet printers, cars, shoes and many many more.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 16:28
Bjoern Bartels

Bjoern Bartels is a senior consultant and obsolescence management competence lead at ABSC and Managing Director of AMSYS. He has a masters degree in international business and a German diploma in industrial engineering and business management. He has been working with comprehensive obsolescence management practices and methods for several years. He successfully developed, implemented and managed reactive, proactive and strategic obsolescence management systems within companies. In addition, he is the head author of the publication "Strategies to the Prediction, Mitigation and Management of Product Obsolescence", a joint work with the CALCE Engineering Institute of the University of Maryland. 

We create customized and innovative obsolescence management concepts and provides competent, reliable and sustainable optimization of processes, projects and infrastructure. We support 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.

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