September 6, 2016

From What’s Possible to What’s Probable – The Future of Obsolescence Management

Rob Picken - Converge, FOM Director
Rob Picken - EMEA Director
I am the EMEA Director of Future of Obsolescence Management (FOM) at Converge, an Arrow company. Electronic components obsolescence (when components become unavailable from their original manufacturing source, for various reasons) and the technical and physical data about electronic components fascinate me. I’m fascinated because I’m keenly interested in the behaviors that data can drive. No company buys a data system because it’s “nice to have”. The expectation is that the data will help them make better decisions, but the reality is that it is often very difficult to turn data into actionable intelligence in a timely fashion.

I started my career at IHS (now IHS Markit), where I helped customers in the defence industry make sense of the huge volumes of data they were generating about their own assemblies, and how the data related to what they were seeing in the marketplace. This included everything from technical parametric data to the physical product size to how much a given component cost in a given country.

A few years ago, I built an EMEA business from the ground up for Arrow. SiliconExpert brings together the widest, deepest array of components data possible, allowing users to bend that data to any requirement, easily answering queries about environmental data or the lifecycle of components. Without SiliconExpert, engineers and decision makers often spend days collecting, collating and analysing the data at hand.

But with only the pure data it is hard to actually make a real difference. We discovered that the SiliconExpert customers often called our sister company, Converge, as well. SiliconExpert identified the problems; Converge provided tangible, physical solutions. We’ve brought the two sides together in our FOM programme.

The partnership between SiliconExpert and Converge allows us to quickly and efficiently solve very complex and otherwise very expensive problems – especially problems of obsolescence. For example, in the defence industry, redesigning assemblies can cost millions of dollars in design, test and certifying that your new design meets stringent quality and performance specifications. Redesigning involves finding an alternative component, testing it within your current design and within the intended application, and proving it works with no ancillary issues. Because this spend is usually unplanned, it causes major headaches.

For a UK-based defence client, we used SiliconExpert data on lifecycle and risks over the coming few years to identify which components were likely to be a problem. Converge took the SiliconExpert data and illustrated, within minutes, where stock lay, how vulnerable the client was in other areas, and possible solutions. Without this collaboration, it would have taken several weeks’ work for the client to identify a solution. However, in a two-hour meeting we were able to illustrate a real, preventive solution.

Component obsolescence sucks up time, resources and money and is typically resolved reactively – only after it has become an acute problem. Data can move us towards proactive solutions. The FOM initiative is new, it’s innovative and it will change the way we deal with obsolescence. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.