Meeting Program Schedules in a Time of Supply-chain Uncertainty

March 03, 2022

Meeting Program Schedules in a Time of Supply-chain Uncertainty

Published in Military Embedded Systems
Written by Charles Falardeau

These days, program managers are trying to figure out how best to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of supply-chain disruption, while protecting their customer’s program schedule and supporting the warfighter.

How do commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) suppliers solve longevity and obsolescence problems – not just now, in this time of supply-chain uncertainty, but in general? Sometimes the solution is to find a substitute part, while other situations may require a board redesign. Another option is to buy enough stock in advance, making it possible to confidently satisfy orders over the years to come.

While the range of preparation and response will vary from vendor to vendor, we recognize that some life cycle management experts were able to be proactive in securing parts needed to build complete products, such as standard COTS boards, to meet orders already in their pipeline and plan for future orders.

Life cycle management programs, while not a new concept, must actually adapt to new circumstances. In “normal” times, COTS life cycle management efforts – designed to keep products alive for the 10 to 15 years typical of military programs – are driven by the inexorable march of Moore’s Law, where obsolescence is the price of performance and density doubling every 18 months for integrated circuits.

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