As products become more complex and supply chains struggle with demand, businesses are increasingly impeded by electronics design maintenance. Our experienced electronics engineers can take away this burden and find solutions to your electronic component obsolescence and supply issues. From selecting suitable alternative components to accommodating them with PCB modifications and verifying the changes, Ex Dynamics can minimise the impact to your business.

Electronic Component Obsolescence and Availability Issues

During the lifecycle of an electronic product, it will likely face supply chain issues requiring electronic component changes. This is accentuated in industries requiring substantial certification where product lifecycles tend to be longer to maximise return on investment. For example, we see this regularly in hazardous area equipment where product designs are often manufactured for decades.

Typical supply chain issues include obsolescence and more commonly over the last couple of years, component availability. Manufacturers of products containing electronic components will be all too aware of the current supply chain challenges in the electronics industry. With some parts on lead times in excess of a year, businesses are having to adapt their designs to use more readily available components.

Identifying Alternative Electronic Components

Often, the only way to solve such problems is to change the component which cannot be sourced. Several factors must be considered when identifying suitable alternatives including:

  1. Physical factors – the component footprint and physical size
  2. Electrical factors – the pin configuration, operating limits and non-ideal/parasitic parameters
  3. Commercial factors – the replacements part’s cost, availability and where it is in its lifecycle.

It is also important to perform an assessment to check whether the change is likely to cause any compliance issues. For example, a circuit may still function correctly following a component change but no longer be EMC compliant. Circuits used for functional safety, certified for ATEX or medical applications may require further analysis to ensure the change does not affect safety.

Performing the Design Modification

Sometimes, it is possible to identify replacement components fitting the three parameters above which are a direct replacement in the same package. In this case, a simple change to the BOM is sufficient to make the change. However, typically for devices performing more specific functions, schematics and PCB layouts require modification. Sometimes, manufacturers may not have access to original CAD files or if they do, they may be in an obsolete format and difficult to modify. If this is the case, we can modify Gerbers or reverse engineer an existing design.

Validating the Design Modification

Once the changes have been made at the design level, they must be validated by producing and testing physical prototypes. Along with electronics test equipment, we have internal facilities to rapidly manufacture PCB assemblies. This allows us to verify design modifications without delay.

Compliance Update

Should the modifications affect product conformity, a reassessment of the impacted areas of compliance should be performed. This may be self-assessment to harmonised standards for CE marking, EMC testing, or approval by an independent body for North America or Hazardous Areas. Our engineers are experienced with compliance and can liaise with test laboratories on your behalf to ensure the modified product maintains conformity.

Completion and Handover

Once complete, we hand over everything including CAD and manufacturing data, test results and if required, evidence for conformity. This provides you with everything required to start manufacturing the modified design straight away.

If you think we can help with your electronic component supply issues, get in touch to speak to one of our friendly team members.