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Unit 3 Garlands Trading Estate, Cadley Road, Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire, SN8 3EB UK

Why Use Force Technologies

I thought I would take some time to discuss where Force Technologies sits in the huge semiconductor market, and candidly explain what we excel at as well as where our shortcomings lie. Plus expand a little on the problems customers face in today’s and future markets.

What does Force Technologies Do?

For those of you who do not know what we do, our core business model as a concept is very simple. Force Technologies Ltd provide form fit and function solutions to customers struggling with obsolete semiconductors. We do this across all semiconductor ranges, all temperatures grades and in all market sectors. Essentially, we are problem solvers. Once a customer provides us with a part number, quantity, technical specification and ideally a projected forecast we will then bring to the table some tailor-made options to resolve the problem at hand.

Simple as I said at least in concept…Just ignore our engineers’ constant headaches and swearing whilst performing said problem solving.

Why do things go obsolete

Why do things go Obsolete?

Wind back to 1970 (a good 17 years before I was born just to make some of you feel old) the typical lifecycle of a semiconductor was expected to be roughly 30 years. In 2014 the projected life of a typical semiconductor was sitting around ten years (a whopping 60% reduction) in as little as 50 years and continues to tighten up. For high turn over consumer electronics this is not a huge deal as smartphones, laptops, and apparently even smart toasters (they exist) get vomited out every 6 months. Designers are thereby relatively worry free and able to pick the latest and greatest during circuit design, safe in the knowledge they will inevitably just end up in land fill (ideally recycling…) as the great consumer wheel churns ever onwards.

OEMs in the commercial sector also, somewhat predatorily, introduce “planned” obsolescence by making their products hard/impossible to repair. Whilst strides are being made with recent right to repair consumer acts, we still have a long way to go, but I digress.
Whilst the Commercial sector flourishes in this regard the Military, Aerospace and Industrial markets continue to struggle. Many projects in these sectors have product lifecycles that extend for decades in need of continued manufacture alongside constant repair, service, and upgrades. Take the Eurofighter Typhoon for example an application we continue to support with numerous devices. The National Audit Office Typhoon Costs Estimate estimated the UK’s assessment, development, production, and upgrade costs hit £22.9 billion and total programme costs exceed £37 billion. Not a throw away project… after a few years of service.

The Eurofighters maiden flight was back in 1994 and is still in active service today protecting our skies and that of our neighbours’, with continued production and demand worldwide. This is just one project of course and there are thousands more like it.

In terms of why things go obsolete part of that Moores law and part of its simple economics. Moores law was the prediction by Gordon Moore back in 1965 that the speed and capability of computers can be expected to double every two years, as a result of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can contain. With progress marching onwards the demand for ever more efficient and faster components is insatiable. This leads to semiconductor manufacturers phasing out older models to make space for more efficient and cost-effective alternatives.

Company mergers and acquisitions also exacerbate this issue further as they continue to cannibalise each other. Invariably the purchasing company will then look to streamline the product portfolio of the acquisition company phasing out semiconductors that are less in demand and prioritising the fabrication of newer models. We continue to see this trend in the industry and it’s a further strain on an already fragile semiconductor supply chain.

What Options do Customers have?

In short and quite brutally, not a lot at least from the OEM. It’s a consistent problem all our customers continue to face. When a product reaches the end of its life the OEM traditionally issue a last time buy (LTB) notice. This is exactly what it sounds, and it gives manufacturers roughly between six and twelve months to buy and stockpile components before they are discontinued. Assuming the customer has a well put together obsolescence team then they will have been monitoring the component and have the option to make use of this LTB.
Alternatively, a more proactive customer may look at a LNB (Life of need buy). This is where the customer will purchase enough components prior to a part going obsolete to see out their current project demands. Both circumstances however rely on a customer having accurate product forecasts (not always possible), have the funding available to secure potentially very costly last time buys (Understandably rare) and have the knowledge/capacity to store the components correctly to prevent degradation over time (able to be outsourced but still a headache).

Once a part is entirely obsolete then the customer is left facing dwindling or non-existent market stocks either through franchised or non-franchised market channels. Obviously non-franchised product can be fraught with Counterfeit concerns. Project requirements especially in the safety critical world might not even allow for Industry standard AS6081 Authentication testing to take place.

Redesign becomes the next logical step once critical product is entirely unavailable. Either the problem component is replaced with an alternative or designed out entirely. Redesign sadly brings with it all the engineering hours alongside the horrendously expensive, time consuming and painful project requalification.

Why use us?

As noted earlier at its simplest we give our customers options for review prior to them deciding to perform a requalification. We act as a last chance saloon of sorts to bring to the table options others may have not thought of or been unwilling to explore. Our desired goal is to give our customers the most cost-effective and technically suitable sustained solution throughout the rest of their project lifecycle, saving them both time and money when compared to other alternatives.

To add to that we boast over 35 years’ experience as a company with hundreds of years combined staff knowledge in the obsolescence industry. We are straight talking, honest, actually care about our customers problems and are AS9100 Rev D accredited. If you have any problem parts you are struggling with then please send them over to and our team will pick them up for appraisal and quotation.