Rochester Electronics examines the impact of market conditions on the supply chain of warships and spacecraft, the long-term consequences and best practices for risk mitigation.
The extent of the semiconductor market capacity problems first became clear when the world began to emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic 15 months ago. The automotive market with its timely, minimal stocks, large volume requirements was an early indication of impending problems.
Since then, unrest from supply chain disruptions has spread to all markets, including the military and defense sectors.
Categorized by smaller (stop-start) series production, with extended temperature and special testing needs, the supply of components for the defense market has always been at greater risk of pressure.
Simply put, as the incredible capacity has disappeared, delivery times have been extended. However, other factors have also become apparent. As the demand for newer technologies / geometries increased, third country factories decided to announce the closure of older plants. In many cases, this has affected product lines that have been considered as “long-term secure” technologies.
As original component manufacturers (OCMs) restructured their production priorities with the capacity constraints they had, many chose to cut back on older product families, technology technologies and packaging styles.
The growing number of component shutdowns poses a significant threat to the aerospace and defense markets, as they have some of the longest production and operational lives. It is not uncommon for production cycles and service life to be extended many times beyond the originally planned service withdrawal dates, making it virtually impossible to accurately forecast future needs.
So when the availability of components in the short and long term is more uncertain than ever, how do companies minimize these risks without creating new ones?
In an uncertain world, best practices include:
Dual source: Although it is rarely possible to approve multiple manufacturers for the same device, the dual source of authorized supply chains is essential.
Availability on the market: Ensure up-to-date visibility of all available instant stock if deliveries fail.
Advanced alert system: Share lists of critical parts with trusted suppliers who can advise when: extended delivery times; natural disasters / God’s actions; or market trends threaten supply chains. For example: A natural disaster affects semiconductor plant production – know within 48 hours which components are affected – see stocks available immediately to prevent line shutdowns – allow suppliers to provide proactive rather than reactive support.
Track component life cycles: Don’t just rely on lifecycle algorithms used by many online component tracking databases. Seek the support of an authorized obsolete supplier / manufacturer to provide a second opinion. Many components correctly listed in these databases as “discontinued” by OCM are still manufactured by authorized sources at the end of the life cycle, 10 to 20 years after the official EoL.
Companies need to establish a supply partner who can offer long-term availability guarantees and also demonstrate a controlled end-of-life transition process to long-term fully authorized supply – or even long-term production.
As an AS6496-compliant distributor and licensed manufacturer, Rochester Electronics continues to offer military semiconductors and packages long after the original OCM discontinued them. In addition to the millions of components available in stock, Rochester’s highly reliable, airtight assembly line offers a full range of package styles, including ceramic DIP, side-welded DIP, flat package, CQFP, PGA, ceramic lead-free chip carrier and metal box.
Rochester’s in-house qualification and testing facilities ensure a complete risk-free supply of components in accordance with industry standards. Rochester is a QML manufacturer, certified by DLA Land and Maritime to MIL-PRF-38535, offering Class Q and Class V chips for military and space applications.
The products are manufactured using known good matrices stored in one of the two nitrogen plate storage facilities and tested according to AS6496 standards using the original test processes used by OCM. The products keep their original part number because it is guaranteed that they meet the original specification of the data sheet. Anti-counterfeiting standards, which apply to independent suppliers such as AS6171 and AS6081, are not required as a 100% authorized source of supply.
For current critical needs for obsolete components where Rochester does not have available inventory or construction plates, the company can use its testing and design experience to maintain its customers’ systems.
Rochester can support fundamental design changes, such as replacing obsolete key components with ASIC solutions. In these cases, it is possible to switch to an ASIC that is identical in terms of format function, without software changes and without errors. This means that retraining DO-254 in space, even for safety-critical (DAL-A) applications, can be greatly simplified as a small change.