by Source Intelligence
on May 3, 2022
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” If that adage were true, smartphones would run on vacuum tubes, and they’d be the size of city blocks.
Fortunately for our arm muscles, continual advances have given us communications technology that fits in the palm of our hands. Yet change creates new complications. For one, it’s incredibly hard for manufacturers to track each and every component they use in production.
Some businesses still use manual spreadsheets to manage their component inventory. Unfortunately, spreadsheets demand time-consuming data entry and are error-prone. By the time an employee finishes updating the spreadsheet, it’s likely outdated again. Spreadsheets also don’t yield useful, predictive information that can help organizations stay ahead of potential challenges in product lifecycle management.
The good news is that there are better options. Proactive obsolescence management tools give businesses visibility into their supply chain, which can help them predict product vulnerabilities and maintain compliance.
There are two main types of software solution options for product lifecycle management: subscription-based and managed services. Let’s take a closer look at each.
With a subscription-based obsolescence management service, organizations can store all component data in a centralized location. This reduces the need for manual work on spreadsheets, such as researching, validating, and entering data. Because multiple users can access this database simultaneously, information is always available in real-time. Best of all, the subscription service does the heavy lifting. It compiles and updates component databases by automatically ingesting information from manufacturing data feeds and product change notifications (PCNs).
The platform gives users access to current production status, lifecycle availability projections, datasheets, and PCNs. Because the system saves all PCNs and end-of-life notices, that information will always be accessible. Users can also easily search for alternate components to readily identify drop-in and generic replacements.
Additionally, a subscription-based system allows for predefined reports as well as custom, user-defined reporting. This puts information at your fingertips so you can more accurately plan for your product lifecycles and your budget. Last but not least, the system offers alerts. Every night, it compares parts affected by PCNs and end-of-life notices and sends a detailed warning about any affected parts.
Subscription-based service is ideal for companies that can afford to dedicate internal resources to loading, scrubbing, and updating bills of materials and PCNs. Businesses using a subscription-based service will also need staff to manage changes that result from industry acquisitions and part number corrections and additions.
With support generally limited to customer service, subscription-based services typically require more hands-on project management and clerical work from employees. However, the amount of work involved with maintaining the service is still substantially less involved than a manual tracking method.
A managed service for obsolescence management is essentially a turnkey offering. This service builds on the power of a subscription-based system but removes the clerical burdens. This makes managed service programs even more efficient.
Clients that choose a managed service solution have access to additional support, including a dedicated program manager who leads the research effort. The program manager works closely with project leads, supplier engagement, and engineering teams to ensure there are no gaps in information. The program manager also oversees the work of project leads, who are responsible for scrubbing and normalizing part numbers.
The managed service provider creates a relational database with the client’s master parts list. By querying the database, the system can match existing supplier data to populate the user interface. The business’s supplier engagement team manages all supplier communications, collects all relevant supplier data and documentation, and conducts quality assurance reviews.
Program managers also oversee any necessary updates in the event of a supplier acquisition or merger. Throughout the engagement, you can email requests to your program manager to research new parts. The provider’s engineering team will validate, verify, and then upload the new parts to the software. Plus, program managers handle bills of materials and quality assurance.
Managed service obsolescence management solutions are ideal for clients that prefer to have their staff focused on finding solutions rather than maintaining databases.
No matter which option is right for your company, an automated obsolescence management system is essential. Modern systems reduce manual work, eliminate threats to your product lifecycle, and help you make more financially sound decisions.
To learn more about our obsolescence management solutions, book a consult with one of our experts.