Component engineering, although underrated, is a key facet of hardware product development. Component engineering plays a critical to ensure that the correct component is selected, sourced and its lifecycle managed so that product quality, reliability and supply chain risk are proactively managed.
Manufacturer Part Specification and Selection
While components get designed in as part of board and electrical design the actual selection of manufacturers and manufacturer parts is a collaborative process between component engineering, purchasing and supply chain management. Many considerations, including cost, manufacturer part lifecycle, availability (and ability to supply in different regions), lead time, are important aspects of selecting a manufacturer part.
Given the level of Supply Chain uncertainty around semiconductors and related components it makes strategic and business sense to multi-source as much as possible to improve Supply Chain resiliency.
Manufacturer Part Lifecycle Monitoring and Analysis
Important aspect of Component Engineering is to monitor lifecycle of the manufacturer part. Manufacturer parts have their own product lifecycle and it is dependent upon the innovations and technology roadmaps of the Manufacturer as well as the Industry. It is not uncommon for manufacturer parts to reach of End-of-life while your product is still viable in the market, forcing you to select and quality replacement manufacturer parts in the middle of your product’s market lifecycle. It may result in significant disruption to your operations and your customers’ operations. It will be useful to conduct routine analysis as shown below to understand the risk impact of components.
In the event a manufacturer part is reaching end-of-life status it is important to proactively conduct analysis based on current and forecasted demand (and current supply) for the component and come with appropriate corrective action. Some of the corrective actions can include
- Last Time Buy from Manufacturers (requires visibility into expected future volumes)
- Working with Distributors
- Buy the Design and Contract Manufacture
- Last resort, EOL your product
The goal is to buy enough time so that the design organization has enough coverage to redesign and re-qualify another manufacturer part
Product Change Notice Analysis
Product change notices (PCN) are a friend and a foe for component engineers. Evaluating the impact of a PCN on products and conducting follow through activities (component change requests, engineering changes, etc.) can be a very time consuming and taxing process. Cogence includes an innovative PCN Analysis solution that can evaluate the impact of PCN on different products and suggest or create follow on processes.