Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Freepiks
Obsolescence is an issue that keeps affecting different areas of technology. When it comes to printed circuit board assembly, we have to think of the design phase of the PCBA manufacturing is also impacted by component obsolescence. This is unlike the common misconception where it is assumed that component obsolescence only affects the deployment of components on the PCBA system.
Obsolescence in the PCBA process is when a component becomes less useful for manufacturing and deployment. There are various factors that lead to component obsolescence in the PCBA. A change in consumer requirements is just one of them. The needs of consumers might have evolved to higher levels such that they won’t need certain components in their devices and applications. Technological advancement is another key factor that may lead to obsolescence.
What is the relationship between PCBA design and component obsolescence?
As we have already mentioned, design is an important phase of the PCBA manufacturing process. The design process tends to highlight on which component will be used and where it will be used. While designing PCBs, designers have to know the dimensions and specifications of each component that will be part of the PCBA.
Given their position in PCBA manufacturing, it may not be easy for the design teams to scan through each component that will be assembled on the PCBA. If this factor is not given special attention, you are likely to end up with a PCB design that is built on old or outdated components.
Also, very few companies can afford advanced data systems in their supply chains. Designers may not have been updated on the late developments hence they will just proceed with the implementation of the design using legacy components. Unless drastic steps are taken at PCBA, obsolescence issues will keep piling up and at the end of a PCBA, you will discover that you have built a complete system using legacy components.
Having the right information about obsolescence is among the surest ways of safeguarding yourself from the impact of component obsolescence in the PCBA design. You will be able to make an appropriate plan on the updated components that you should include, and also plan your budget to minimize the cost that comes with redoing the whole process. Let’s not forget the time-saving factor that you are likely to accrue from the fact that your design will be devoid of obsolete components.
Increased cost of design
Component obsolescence is likely to increase the cost of undertaking PCBA design. There are several ways in which you are likely to incur higher expenses in the design phase when the components become obsolete.
The first way is you will be forced to perform the revision of the design. Since new or updated components may have completely new features, you may be forced to discard the initial design and come up with a new one. This is not only time-consuming but also is likely to attract extra expenses.
Delayed PCBA production
This is one of the major impacts of component obsolescence on the PCBA design. Let’s say the design team has completed designing a new PCBA, only to be informed that the components that were included in the design are obsolete. There will be no other option other than redoing the whole design process. This is a time-consuming process.
If the PCBs to be assembled were urgently needed, then it would mean that you should expect massive delays. A delay in the design phase will definitely affect all the other aspects of PCBA manufacturing and business in general.
The most expected action that you are likely to take due to component obsolescence is replacement. You will replace components that have been declared obsolete with the new updated packages. It is always expected that the new components will deliver better performance. But this is not always the case. You can experience a decline in performance.
Additionally, other PCB components may not be fully compatible with the new updated components hence causing a mismatch in the performance. New modifications to components may further cause performance degradation.
Exposed to supply chain risks
New components are rarely easily available in the market. Leaving the legacy PCBA components for the new ones may end up exposing you to supply chain vulnerabilities. You are likely to be affected by the shortage. A problem in the supply chain will affect many other aspects of PCBA, including the cost.
How to minimize the impact of obsolescence on the PCBA design
We have just looked at various ways that obsolescence affects the PCBA design process. Most of these impacts have far-fetched effects on the overall PCBA process. All is not gloom. You can reduce the devastating effects of obsolescence on the PCBS design process.
One of the ways is by establishing a long-term procurement plan. Here, you need to set up solid plans that will guide your PCBA component purchasing process. A proper plan is backed with solid data that gives accurate and updated information on the components that will be used on PCBA. With a long-term policy, you will be able to minimize harsh realities that are associated with the obsolescence of the PCB components.
You should also upgrade to a data-driven PCBA design system. Every step that you take in the PCBA design process should be backed by accurate data about the parts and components of the PCBA. The data may give information about inventory forecasts and any other vital information about the supply chain of the electronic components.
It is also important for PCBA companies to integrate their design teams into other divisions of the company, such as the supply chain. This way, designers will always stay updated on the latest developments and trends regarding the components. Doing this will help eliminate any possibility of using obsolete PCB components.
Also, as a PCBA company, you should consider partnering with reputable PCB components suppliers and manufacturers. While this may sound obvious, it is one of the techniques that will ensure you include updated components in your PCBA design phase. Alternatively, you can use the services of PCB components sourcing agents. Other than just sourcing for the components, they will also be updating you on the latest developments about the PCBS components.
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