How can companies reliably keep legacy products in production?

The mine field that is obsolete semiconductor sourcing is becoming even more precarious as we learn that in December 2015 another 3 Chinese men have been jailed in the USA for offering counterfeit and stolen components to an undercover US agent posing as a buyer for a US Naval company.

On this occasion it was not a genuine transaction but this MD believes that many more transactions are taking place in the Aerospace and Defence Industry that would give any buyer with conscience, nightmares for life.

While companies such as Force Technologies offer the redesign or remanufacture of obsoleted components to ensure quality, reliability and long term support, we are often told that OEM original product has been sourced cheaper and quicker. Alarm bells ring and no matter how much we try to explain that there are no reliable sources in the market place for that particular component, our pleas and advice fall on deaf and budget constricted ears.

Legacy product can never be reproduced and sustained in a cost reducing environment due the nature of the word “legacy”. With the passing of time, technologies and components grow old and with that comes quality problems and supply issues. Most counterfeit or fake component manufacturers sell their shameless wares at less than the original part was sold for and this still doesn’t raise questions. Gone are the days of value for money or cost of ownership principles only to be replaced by large multi-national groups being forced to reduce costs and ultimately not meeting: 100% fit for purpose, quality and reliability.

Anti-counterfeit testing is also becoming a commodity to be bargained for, with many distributors and CEM’s performing inadequate testing in-house.

Just because the part works today when you put a curve tracer over the pins does not mean it will work next year or the year after. Reliability only comes through recognised assembly processes and thorough qualified testing.

When on a PCB that makes the wheels of an aeroplane come down for landing it’s got to work every time with the same guarantees as the original part. This assurance does not come at Chinese prices…

We, at Force, take the issues of obsolescence re-manufacturing and anti-counterfeiting testing extremely seriously after all we have built our whole business and 30 year reputation around it and when you buy an “FT” marked replacement product we guarantee it, “it is what it says on the tin”

Written by Karen Salmon, Managing Director, Force Technologies Ltd. For the upcoming March issue of Electronics Sourcing magazine.