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Obsolescence of Electronic Components

Understanding the obsolescence of electronic components

Technologies evolve continuously and at a very fast pace. The market must therefore adapt to demand by offering new, ever more advanced products. In the end, the life cycle of electronic components in products is shortened.

When developing a PCB that will be integrated into a product, it therefore becomes imperative to take into consideration the life cycle of the electronic components used in the design and production. Electronic components are normally subject to a six-phase life cycle, each of which has an impact, among other things, on the sales of the components, their price and also their use.

When we reach the last phase, that of obsolescence, the technological material has become obsolete having been overtaken by a new technology and must be replaced before the system or the product becomes impossible to produce.

The reasons for obsolescence

All electronic components eventually become obsolete due to various factors such as reaching their lifespan, technological innovation, continuous and regular updates, components deliberately created with a shorter lifespan (planned obsolescence), and the sometimes sudden increase in demand. Certain exceptional situations, including disruptions in the supply chain, can also have a negative impact on the availability of components, or even create a shortage.

However, over time, the obsolescence rate increases, which translates into additional challenges for companies with products that include electronic components.

It then becomes imperative to stay up to date in the management of component statuses and to maintain constant contact with suppliers, since the consequences of negligence in the management of obsolescence can lead to additional delays, additional costs, questionable quality, counterfeit components, or even a complete production standstill.

For passive components, such as diodes, resistors, capacitors or connectors, it is usually possible to replace them by finding an equivalent quite easily; whereas for active components, such as transistors, microprocessors, microcontrollers or converters, this task is much more difficult. It is then often more efficient to simply upgrade the design to newer components, thereby also allowing for a product improvement that will maintain competitiveness.

Solutions to obsolescence


Being up-to-date in component status management allows to plan in advance the purchase of large quantities of components destined to become obsolete. By being proactive in this way, you can be on the lookout for the competition and obtain a sufficient inventory of the component in question, thus avoiding production interruptions.

Being proactive in managing bills of materials can also pay off in the long run. Proper planning of component inventory forecasting, particularly for components with strict requirements such as in the medical or aerospace industries, will also avoid multiple inconveniences and additional costs.


The options offered to face obsolescence are multiple. In some cases, it may be possible to use existing components in stock; however, this involves research – sometimes with suppliers specializing in locating rare parts – which can be complex, costly and time-consuming. It may also be possible to have a component custom made by a manufacturer; this implies reduced risks, but high costs. Finally, halfway between the two previous options, it is possible to find an equivalent component, which can replace the obsolete component. In all these cases, it will be imperative to pay particular attention to the specifications of the selected components in order to ensure that they do not alter the performance of the final product.

It should be noted that in certain circumstances, such as for specific products such as microprocessors, microcontrollers or peripherals, none of these three options may be suitable. A remaining possibility is to redesign the product to incorporate the component with different specifications.

Obsolescence, when well planned and managed, can become an opportunity to improve a product. This can be achieved by following a well-designed and proactive component obsolescence management plan for new designs.

Solving your greatest challenges

The issues and consequences related to the obsolescence, discontinuation or shortage of electronic components are at the heart of each of the interventions of our professionals.

Whether it is to locate and validate the quality of a spare component, modify or revise the design of a circuit or system in its entirety, our electronic designs meet the concerns and needs of our clients. Cutting-edge performance, seamless process, deadline-conscious, clear communications, with no surprises; this is what you will get with Cysca.

See how we turn obsolescence into opportunity for our clients.

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