The Significance of Obsolescence Management in Safeguarding the Lifecycle of a Product
- Whilst it is important to support legacy platforms with component availability. It is also a key driver for new designs, in ensuring full through-life support
- Ensuring full through-life support, at all phases of a product’s lifecycle
- Reactive Vs Proactive
Technology advancements, across platforms and industries, is increasing at an alarming pace, with developments in automation, controls, sensors and AI driving greater capability and value to the end-user.
However with such a focus on new technology, this can lead to issues when it comes to through-life support. Firstly, whilst new technology is exciting and pushing the boundaries, this cannot lead to success unless there is some level of assurance that the spare parts will remain available throughout the duration of the manufacturing phase, and well into the in-service phase (and hopefully) to the out-of-service date. On the other hand there is the added importance of support for legacy products being also maintained, in order to ensure a smooth, planned, transition for customers and end-users alike, or planned support for those that wish to maintain the current standard.
Both instances demonstrate the importance of an effective Obsolescence Management Plan, and the careful monitoring of the critical components, leading to long term product success. In turn this allows a company to present an image of a “reliable” manufacturer, and the ability to realistically predict the product’s lifecycle, and natural development points, further selling their benefit to their customers, increasing potential revenue. This is also especially valuable when understanding that most of this technology is being driven by academia and the SME community, where these aspects could make the difference, and allow for continual developments.
In order to achieve a successful Obsolescence Management Plan, it is important the right strategy be adopted. A “Reactive” approach could keep the costs down in the initial stages, however, this does not allow for future unplanned obsolescence, increasing the risk of unexpected costs, and potentially damaging a company’s reputation. Whilst it is often perceived that a “Pro-active” approach only adds cost to the outset of a project, this is where the value can be truly realised. The first point for ensuring long-term support should always be at the design stage. A product will not be as successful, if the designer is working from a legacy parts database. This outdated information may not reflect the current standards or true availability of the components, and therefore greatly increases the risk of designing in obsolete parts from the outset. By being proactive, and in setting an early Obsolescence Management plan, this risk will be reduced. This plan then also sets a baseline for the rest of the product’s lifecycle, helping to mitigate the risk of unexpected costs, design changes, or major re-designs.