How do you manage obsolete electronic components?

The electronic components that make up Radio Frequency (RF) modules come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and functions (e.g. capacitors, resistors, inductors). But what’s consistent among these components is they have a limited lifespan and become obsolete. Component manufacturers design these parts with a range of intended lifespans, some as short as three years, and others as long as 20 years. Module designers have many factors to consider, e.g. parametric data, cost and availability, but the lifecycle of the part is also a critical factor.

the NuPower 11C01A Multi-Octave Power Amplifier (MOPA) have dozens of components which could become obsolete

Modules like the NuPower 11C01A Multi-Octave Power Amplifier (MOPA) have dozens of components, which have to be monitored for obsolescence.

One way to mitigate component lifecycle management is to keep plenty of parts on hand. That means estimating demand for the associated module and deriving required component volumes. While that might sound attractive, consider doing this across hundreds or thousands of components. Your company’s balance sheet will balloon, making inventory management financially untenable. Another way is to proactively manage the lifecycles of components in your modules.

There are many tools out there to help your business achieve this. Depending on the size of your database, you may be able to do this with an individual on your team, researching parts and alternates, and updating as components go obsolete or become difficult to find. For most RF module companies, their component volumes are likely too high to allow for this kind of management. Imagine trying to track down data sheets for 5,000 components and keeping those up to date. If your components database is large, a better way would be to subscribe to an online database which is centrally managed by a third party. That relieves your team of the trouble of tracking obsolete components and grants you all sorts of reporting tools for components lifecycle management.


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