6 checks to manage electronic component life cycles in critical-to-life applications

Aug 22, 2023Applications, Quality & compliance

6 checks to manage electronic component life cycles in critical-to-life applications

Managing electronic component life cycles is crucial to the dependability and safety of critical-to-life products, such as medical, military and defence applications. A comprehensive component life cycle management strategy is a must.

If you fail to put such a strategy in place, or use a sub-standard strategy, you face risks relating to product reliability and availability, and the damage these issues can cause to sales and reputation.

To ensure that you have a life cycle management strategy that you can trust, you should use an expert. If you’re working with a contract electronics manufacturer, this means checking that such planning is part of their service.

What to look for in electronic component life cycle management

It is essential that your critical-to-life product manufacturing process includes a component life cycle management strategy, because life cycles affect product design, supply planning and replacement part scheduling.

As such, to help ensure that your manufacturing process and product performance are as strong as possible, you should carry out checks for the following with potential electronics manufacturing partners:

  1. Life cycle expertiseYour subcontractor should be aware of the importance of electronic component life cycles and this knowledge should be visible across all aspects of their operations (sales, engineering and production). Check that this expertise is evident at every stage of your client relationship with your contract electronics manufacturer.
  2. Process communicationYour electronics manufacturing partner should communicate clearly how component life cycle management affects your manufacturing process and provide detailed information on component end-of-life dates and potential predictable replacements. You should get a clear picture, from start to finish.
  3. Component sourcingQuality is integral to successful component life cycle management and to the performance of your product. This means quality with regard to suppliers and components. Your partner should use only reputable and reliable distributors and suppliers, and source only fully traceable, quality components. Check that orders come with certificates of conformity.
  4. Product designYour partner should make sure that the expected life cycle of your end product is factored into your design process. This may require some revision or extra work from your design team. But the right subcontractor will ensure that this step is taken. It will reduce the need for component replacement and extend the lifespan of your end product.
  5. End-of-life planningWhile careful component selection and product design can lengthen a product’s life cycle, it is inevitable that some components will need to be replaced eventually. As such, it is important that your electronics manufacturing subcontractor helps you put in place a comprehensive component replacement plan, including the identification of potential end-of-life components and their replacements. This minimises the risk of components becoming obsolete and ensures the continuity of service provision and product availability.
  6. Component warrantyThis is an extra indication of a component life cycle management service that you can trust. A good contract electronics manufacturer will offer a warranty on components (e.g. one year) and repair and rework services. This safety net provides peace of mind, including assurance relating to your manufacturing process and product quality and availability.

Component life cycles and choosing the right contractor

Component life cycle management plays a key role in ensuring the reliability and safety that are vital to critical-to-life applications. A contract electronics manufacturer that passes the six checks outlined above will provide the service and assurance you need.

To find out how MPE Electronics PCB manufacturing and assembly services can benefit your business, contact us on +44 (0)1825 764822 or enquiries@mpe-electronics.co.uk.

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