Obsolescence is defined by Wikipedia as “the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order”. Obsolescence is the gradual decline in the popularity or functionality of a product to the point that it is eventually destined to become obsolete.
A simple obsolescence management model typically involves 4 steps:
- Plan for obsolescence
- Design for obsolescence
- Check for obsolescence
- Act as planned
Another way to look at obsolescence management is to treat it as a risk assessment. An obsolescence management plan is basically just a risk assessment that makes sure you cover all possible bases in case the parts that your business requires go out of production some day; or how your business will cope with and react to potential technological advancements. Obsolescence is always inevitable, so the best approach to obsolescence management is to be proactive, reactive and strategic in order to minimize the impact of that inevitable obsolescence.
Knowing how to deal with obsolescence can help a business to control their profit and loss in the long term. Using an obsolescence management company is of great benefit for most businesses. Many obsolescence management companies, for example Through Life Support offer assistance and training to businesses in order to help them prepare for the inevitable obsolescence of vital parts and supplies that their line of work requires. Through Life Support make a good example here as they’ve recently partnered up with AVCOM.
Advanced Component Obsolescence Management, also known as AVCOM, is a web-based obsolescence management tool in association with BAE Systems. The AVCOM tool allows users to forecast when a part is likely to become obsolete or too expensive to continue using. When a part is identified as becoming obsolete or too expensive to use in the near future then the tool also helps the user to find suitable replacement parts from across the marketplace. AVCOM has even been recognised by the US Department of Defence for its quality, performance and functionality in helping to deal with the obsolescence of the parts used by the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command and several other defence contractors.
Some companies plan obsolescence into the design of their products so that they’ll break down just after the warranty expires, or newer versions of a product won’t be backwards compatible, thus pushing consumers to replace their older products despite them still working perfectly.
Video games consoles are a good example of a product that plans obsolescence into its design. When a new console is released our hunger for the latest gadget drives us to purchase the new console, even though it is not backwards compatible with the games that we love. So in order to carry on playing those games on our newer, better console, we’ll go out and repurchase the games in a compatible format so that we can continue playing them!