Supporting Customers Over the Long-Term
It’s not uncommon for communications hardware to have a service life of many years and even decades. Whereas consumer electronics, such as home routers and modems, may have a lifecycle of a few years, the core of the network is an expensive investment that usually remains in service far longer, and it is an investment that must be protected.
One of the greatest threats to this investment is the shocking pace at which technology moves, and the fickle nature of consumer demand. This year’s hot new cellular application can become old news in a matter of months, and usually does. As a result, components quickly come and go, which can spell disaster for hardware that must remain in service for many years.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Because GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms has long been involved in defense, aerospace and industrial applications, we have developed an extremely robust PLM capability. As a rule, aerospace and military applications have a useful life measured in many decades. At the same time, they rely on commercially-available silicon which may come and go in just a few years.
The fact that we have been able to manage obsolescence issues for customers with such extreme requirements has given us unusual insights into the key concepts and principles that are the foundation for any successful PLM Long-Term Support (LTS) program. And we like to offer customers a simple choice of approaches which are easily adapted to suit their program needs. For example:
For customers preferring a risk-averse approach to long-term support of a program it may be most appropriate to take a ‘defensive’ approach whereby they choose and qualify equipment then ‘freeze’ the revision state for production. This is reinforced by background monitoring for instances of component obsolescence, our ‘Health Check’ service, and then life-time purchases, and environmentally controlled, secure storage, all of which combine to ensure our ongoing ability to repair and manufacture the product for as long as a given program requires.
2. Progressive (Requires Technology Insertion)
Where a customer plans their long-term program needs with Technology Insertion in mind, this in itself reduces the potential exposure to obsolescence, as well as enabling them to take advantage of new and improved features and performance over time. So Technology Insertion can be as much a part of an effective obsolescence management strategy as can monitoring for component obsolescence.
3. Mixed (Includes Technology Insertion)
Where a customer’s program allows, they can take advantage of the best elements of both the ‘Defensive’ and ‘Progressive’ approaches. An example of this ‘Mixed’ approach might be to break a 15 year project into 3 planned 5 year cycles, with technology insertion for each new cycle, but using defensive techniques to further protect against the impact of obsolescence between upgrades.
Depending on your particular program needs, we have an ‘obsolescence strategy’ that offers you a variety of solutions. However, almost every program requires some different combination of:
--obsolescence monitoring and reporting
--component and/or board life-time buys
--long-term repair support
--long-term technical/engineering support
Note that each of the strategies can continue to evolve and be adapted as your requirements change. And to back up your chosen Obsolescence Strategy we ensure that we retain the following key service elements:
We make ongoing investments in people and equipment, and have a dedicated team focused on giving service, including test engineers, re-work technicians, inspection & quality, administration and customer liaison.
Front-line Technical Support
We staff a Technical Support Help-desk which is the initial focal point for all technical enquiries, ensuring that all such cases are managed through to a satisfactory conclusion for our customers.
Ongoing insurance against future component obsolescence usually involves regular product ‘Health Checks.’ We provide you with this information and work with you to help you come to a decision which best suits the operational and budgetary needs of your program.
You will find more information on our PLM strategies and their strong foundation in military and aerospace applications on our website, and also in our free white paper, Lifecycle Management for Mission Critical Electronics. If you would like further details or have questions, please contact our PLM Team Lead.