October 31, 2016

FOM 2016, Bimhuis Amsterdam – The Future of Obsolescence Management

In my previous blogs, and in a number of Twitter updates, I’ve eagerly been discussing our pioneering Future of Obsolescence (FOM 2016) conference. Now in its second year, the conference was an incredible opportunity for key leaders and industry strategists across high-reliability supply chains to come together to share and learn new ideas. 

A key pillar of FOM – along with fulfilment and data analytics – is communication. Ideas are useless if you can’t communicate them properly, and our annual FOM event aimed to provide the opportunity not only to impart ideas to our collected delegates, but to promote discussion, new perspectives and collaboration.

We were delighted this year to host a collection of dynamic, experienced, innovative thinkers from across our supply chain spectrum, representing every stage of the increasingly complex landscape.

Tyler Moore, Director of Arrow Supply Assurance, started our day by discussing how obsolescence is addressed in vastly different ways by different industries, with very different results. Questions flowed from the attendees, challenging us to learn and communicate outside of our comfort zones.

Bill Stypa, ON Semiconductor’s product marketing head for custom logic and aerospace products in Europe, walked us through ways to avoid obsolescence by actively engaging with the component manufacturer, not just reacting to product change notices (PCNs).

We next moved to three complementary speakers. Stuart Broadbent, Obsolescence Director for Alstom Transport, introduced a detailed look into the challenges of reconciling the long life cycles and support expectations of the rail industry with the short life cycles of commercial and industrial components.

Feeding solutions to the challenges presented by Stuart, Ludwig Hiebl, Head Component Engineer for Zollner Elektronik AG, explored ways that data and data management can be administered by electronic manufacturing services (EMS), simplifying and untangling the volume of data the electronics industry generates.

Finally, Jürgen Lauter of ETL (Elektrotechnik Lauter) built upon logistical issues by discussing the main bottleneck in most decisions: the human factor. Interpretation of risk and the understanding of layers of training or experience generated heated debate.

After lunch we welcomed two excellent speakers to close the FOM 2016 event. Lorenzo Carbonini travelled from Genoa, Italy, to present his view on challenging regulatory management updates from his perspective as Head of Component Standardisation at Leonardo, formerly Finmeccanica Group. Following this came Marijan Jozic, Development Manager for KLM Royal Dutch Airline, who shared his knowledge of the aviation industry’s perspective on obsolescence.

A lively debate followed, led by Björn Bartels, Managing Director of AM-SYS, including contributions from our delegates, evolving ideas from our panel of speakers and 60 minutes of fascinating insight.  

Overwhelmingly positive feedback and support from attendees and our parent means that FOM 2017 in EMEA is a certainty. Further, however, and due to great intellectual investment and input from U.S. colleagues and customers, we’re working hard to bring FOM to the U.S. next year. In my next blog, I’ll provide some details on our first “Mini FOM” which took place in Los Angeles with our USA FOM Director, Bill Fliegel on 4 October.

Finally we’d love to hear from you about topics for 2017, and if you’d like to speak at our next FOM event … please get in touch.

Keep innovating.

October 7, 2016

External Pressures and Mounting Obsolescence – The Future of Obsolescence Management

big_cloud_dataA spate of recent and massive component manufacturer mergers and acquisitions leaves many questions around the longevity of supply chains and availability of relevant components within the electronics industry. Recent moves in the Franchised and Independent Distribution space are causing further uncertainty. Franchised distributors hold official agreements to market and sell components on behalf of the original component manufacturer; Independent Distributors market and sell components but do not hold official agreements to do so.

The problem is accelerating electronic component obsolescence . To solve the problems posed by critical components not being available, you need all the possible information available about the components – and that turns out to be an enormous amount of data. IBM states that we generate 2.5 million Terabytes of data globally on a daily basis. How much of it is relevant, and how to find that relevant data is another matter. And once you’ve found it, does it answer questions for you, or raise more? What tools and services do you rely on to track the detail you need?

As a further consideration, you have to consider the integrity of the data you’re relying upon. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are excellent for breaking news and events, but when looking for reliable and credible detail it pays to follow major news sites and manufacturer data releases. Component manufacturers communicate well, but often critical obsolescence data is missing, or without sufficient notice period of changes. An internal SiliconExpert study shows a massive 41% of components made obsolete are moved to this status with no communication of this change to the wider industry. More concerning still is that 30% of these parts are made obsolete immediately. So that’s no more availability from the component manufacturer, and this change is immediate!

In addition, we’re seeing significant moves in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR to potentially add Cobalt to the Conflict Minerals list along with continual updates to the EU regulation for the Restriction, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) as well as significant supply chain headaches from the upcoming revisions to the directive for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).

All of this will not only impact obsolescence, but the ways in which customers choose to handle it. All of this uncertainty means that not only do our customers need to find reliable sources for components. Even more importantly, they need the intelligence to confidently make decisions based upon data.

Converge continuously looks along all these lines. September 2016 was the second year of our annual FOM Conference in Amsterdam covering leading thinkers and innovators from across the high-reliability electronics world, concentrating on their challenges, how they address them and what resources we should collectively focus on – pan industry – to move forward together. Central to the event was ideas sharing and thought leadership (as well as a ban on ‘pitching’ by any speaker or attendee) which kept communication fresh, and meant we cultivated an environment where open discussion was encouraged.

Check our website for the impressive speakers list and check back next time for a rundown of the things we learned together. 

Blog by: Rob Picken