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Design for Availability

At present times we are seeing significant electronic component shortages. Some suppliers quoting up to 53 weeks delivery and then only to allocation. So if you do not order now when parts are available those with orders lodged in the system will be allocated first, if there is stock left you might get stock. These have been caused by a number of issues not just COVID. Fires in Japan has caused issues getting wireless parts extreme growth in demand has left production struggling to keep up. Closures due to COVID have resulted in factories having no output. As industry has started up again demands to fulfill orders has resulted in limited stock.

This situation is not new it has been exasperated recently due to a number of factors coming together at the same time. As technology develops from time to time shortages happen.

So what can be done? During the design phase flexibility can be considered in the part selection. If a critical part is used with limited suppliers, then there are not many options. Secure stock at design time is about the best option to protect production. Often the device can be sourced in multiple package configurations, through hole SMD and more recently BGA. Allowing 2 or more package configurations on the PCB at the same time gives more flexibility at production. Often the BGA footprint will fit inside the SMD foot print. This type of flexibility is often seen in wireless modules manufacturers one combined foot print for many different module options this makes it easy to manage in times of shortages and also repurpose designs for different regions.

In the design stages if a design is required to have, for example, 1MByte of memory. It is often possible to get memory devices in the same package with larger capacity that can be direct drop in pin for pin replacements. While a 2MByte will cost more and might be considered excessive for the design. The generally small increase in part costs will allow the product to be manufactured and sold rather than no production. A reduced margin yes but at least a margin.

The message here is during design give yourself options and alternatives. Do not box yourself into a corner. Consider that there will be shortage from time to time.

Design for Availability