Lifecycle management—the process of managing the lifecycle of a product—starts at the very beginning of the component’s journey in the design phase and continues through end of life or retirement. With three distinct phases—beginning, middle and end of life—lifecycle management (also known as product lifecycle management or “PLM”), refers to the handling of goods as they move through these natural stages of development and introduction, growth, maturity, stability and decline.
For the electronic component sector, lifecycle management is an inherent and sometimes inconvenient part of the overall business management process, but it doesn’t have to create logistical headaches. In fact, by understanding the implications of last-time buys (LTB) and end-of-life (EOL) notices for your operations, you can reduce the risks associated with the obsolescence stage of lifecycle management. Once you understand those implications, the next step is to ensure that your sourcing partners have the tools to support you when obsolescence threatens to disrupt your supply chain.
Here are the three steps that all procurement teams can take to create a more resilient lifecycle management strategy:
1) Stay up to date with industry news and trends. Staying up to date on developments in the electronic component industry is an integral part of effective planning, as it can hedge against the possibility of supply chain disruptions. For example, production changes are a key indicator of an upcoming obsolescence notice. Manufacturing cuts will first appear in market intelligence reports and industry news, both of which provide evidence of demand trends—thus indicating when a part may soon be marked as obsolete. Prolonged declines in demand may signal that the end of the line is near, and letting you know that “time is of the essence” if you are still using these parts in your assembly process.
Paying attention to industry developments related to new designs and launches is another way to gauge the next LTB or EOL notice. When a company announces a new component, for example, manufacturers want to decrease competition among their portfolios and increase support for their latest innovations, which often leads to pivoting production capacity away from older models.
Regardless of the specific trigger point, supply will dwindle when companies implement manufacturing cuts. This is why it’s vital to quickly deploy suitable sourcing strategies.
2) Develop a strategic and adaptable sourcing approach. Working with an independent distributor that creates a resilient PLM strategy is a pragmatic way to inject diversity into your supply chain while proactively managing obsolescence. The independent distributor should provide a PLM solution that has multiple approaches to circumvent supply chain obstacles effectively.
These approaches vary, but they should begin with competitive pricing and quality sourcing to secure large quantities of rare components. Whether you’re looking for a spot buy or long-term agreement, a dependable distributor will be able to handle all sourcing requirements and offer competitive rates while maintaining a proven track record for high-quality sourcing.
Once continuity of supply is ensured, an optimal independent distributor will work with your business to create a storage and delivery plan. If your chosen sourcing partner has warehouses to store parts until they’re needed, you can remove the limitations of housing surplus stock. When the market is right, an independent distributor can help you transform your excess into a revenue stream by selling the components through their vast network.
3) Always expect the unexpected. Obsolescence isn’t always predictable, but having a resilient lifecycle management plan supported by a trustworthy independent distributor creates backup plans to effectively and efficiently handle LTBs and EOL notices. Be prepared to confidently navigate the electronics product lifecycle by expecting the unexpected and arming yourself with options that can mold to any situation—no matter when product change notifications strike.
About Fusion Worldwide
Fusion Worldwide is the preeminent open market distributor of electronic components and products. We source, inspect, test, and deliver a broad range of components to a large and diversified customer base that includes OEMs, CMs and ODMs across a wide array of verticals. Founded in 2001, Fusion is headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and maintains offices and quality centers in major manufacturing centers around the world.
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