The risk of Obsolescence is inevitable. However, rather than taking a reactive approach to incoming Obsolescence risk, predictive planning and proactive approach for mitigation of Obsolescence Risk can minimize the extra expenses and ensure the product availability. All sectors (Commercial, Industrial, Aviation, Defense, etc) where the product life is required to be more tend to face the risk of component obsolescence. If they are not tackled well in time, it will end up paying excessive cost to keep the products available and functioning. That’s why it is very necessary to mitigate the obsolescence risk well before it happens.

Approach for Mitigation of Obsolescence

There are mainly two approaches for mitigation of obsolescence. They are: –

  • Proactive Approach
  • Reactive Approach

Approaches to Tackle Obsolescence

Normally, an organization should go for a proactive approach for components other than having low risk of obsolescence.

Proactive Approach for Mitigation of Obsolescence

The proactive approach shall be employed for the components that come in Very High or High risk zone in the Risk Assessment Process. A suitable resolution option according to the severity of the likely obsolescence can be selected for reducing/ countering the likely impact of the obsolescence.

Proactive Approaches for Obsolescence Mitigation

A Proactive approach based obsolescence management requires varying level of effort level and focus depending upon the risk level. Components with Very High and High risk of obsolescence require maximum focus on their mitigation strategy. Whereas components that have medium or low risk does not require immediate action. That’s why we need to formulate a specifically designed proactive approach for mitigation of obsolescence risks of different types that can suffice the particular needs of the project.

A proactive approach for mitigation of obsolescence is an active approach by early identification of the obsolescence threat and mitigating the obsolescence or ensuring that procedures are in place for continued support of the product against the likely obsolescence.

No of PDNs Issued in last Few Years

A Proactive approach is heavily based on component obsolescence forecast long before the Product Discontinuation Notice is issued. Original Equipment Manufacturers have historically relied on the data provided by part manufacturers in this regard. The obsolescence data direct from the component manufacturer may look like a reliable information source, but it’s not the case. Sadly, the component manufacturers are not always precise in their obsolescence forecasts.

NAVSEA DamNeck conducted a survey which gave surprising results. According to the survey, the obsolescence forecasts of component manufacturers were accurate only 55% time. 28% of time the forecast date was earlier than actual obsolescence and 17% of time after the actual obsolescence. 1.5% of time, the component manufacturers represented wrong information of item in production even though the items were obsolete.

Time to obsolescence Actual vs. Manufacturer claimed

Accordingly, if you are employing a proactive approach, the purity of obsolescence data is a must for correct evaluation and selecting a suitable resolution option. It is recommended that third party forecasting data may also be considered in addition to the manufacturer’s data for cross checking.

Reactive Approach for Mitigation of Obsolescence

A Reactive approach for Mitigation of Obsolescence is recommended to be applied for the components that come in Very Low risk zone in the Risk Assessment Process. The Reactive Approach does not require any immediate action until an obsolescence issue arises. When an obsolescence issue arises, then a suitable and cost effective resolution option for mitigation of obsolescence is employed.

A Reactive Approach is a ‘Face and Fight’ sort of approach for mitigation of obsolescence. Little or no planning is carried out to finalize a methodology for mitigation of obsolescence to the low risk zone components. It is a conscious decision to pick the suitable and cost effective resolution option taken at the required time.

Cost Impact and Probability factors in Obsolescence

Such time of approach is used for the low risk components whose obsolescence threat is not critical or when easily available from a multiple alternate sources or not cost effective. Some of the items that are subjected to this approach are mechanical structure, generic test equipment and tools, minor equipment etc.

There is always a limited time available in Reactive Approach from obsolescence faced to the implementation of suitable resolution option. Due to this limited time availability, the OEMs are not able to go for a Design Refresh as such redesigns needs to be planned in advance and are not suitable for one or two component’s obsolescence.

Owing to such limitations, OEMs often end up stocking a life time buy or finding a cross for the component of same form, fit and function.

Also read:

Obsolescence Risk Assessment – Process, Management and Mitigation Strategy

Obsolescence Management – Objective, Advantages and Processes at Product Stages

What is Obsolescence – How it Happens, its Criticality and Types