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If components stayed competitive forever, your smartphone would run on vacuum tubes. Obsolescence is an essential part of electronics. It represents an advance in technology, however incremental. However, it can also create some pain points for PCB designers, especially when they don’t use the right management tools.
Overcoming problems that arise from poor obsolescence management and lack of supply chain visibility takes the right data management features within your PCB design software. With the right data management solution, you can quickly import data updates directly into your design documents, and you’ll have access to the supply chain information you need to stay competitive.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
ALTIUM CONCORD PRO®
A unified data management platform that provides real-time supply chain updates and collaboration features within Altium Designer® and other mechanical design tools.
No component has an infinite lifetime. This doesn’t just refer to its operational lifetime. Eventually, a given component will be replaced with a new version. With passive components, new releases aren’t significantly different from an old component. However, with active components, specialized passives, connectors, and other electronic components, newer versions of an existing component may be significantly different.
Within your design software, this means the component could have an updated schematic symbol, printed circuit board footprint, mechanical model, or electrical model. Any of these changes will affect your design and will require modifications to your board. With the untold number of electronic components available on the market, obsolescence management is already difficult, and PCB designers need supply chain visibility throughout the design process if they want to avoid an unnecessary redesign.
No component has an infinite lifetime. This doesn’t just refer to its operational lifetime or similar requirements. The useable lifetime of a component is a factor to consider, but including obsolete components means that important portions of your board will not function as desired and must be redesigned. Designers that don’t have the right component lifecycle management software can find themselves falling victim to any of the following problems:
Even if your PCB design software includes a component management solution, you put yourself at risk that it provides you with stale data. Changes in the supply chain can happen quickly, and some data solutions do not provide real-time supply chain updates directly within your design software. This puts you at risk of including obsolete or soon-to-be obsolete products and components in your design.
When this happens, you typically don’t find out about the problem until your manufacturer informs you that your lead time just jumped from a few weeks to a few months. This increases your time to market and ultimately makes you less competitive. Overcoming this issue requires real-time supply chain data that can be accessed by any member of your design team.
Accessing and managing component data within Altium Designer
You might have found a software solution or signed up for a service that provides some level of supply chain visibility, allowing you to anticipate sourcing problems and redesigns early in the design phase. This is a much better option than waiting to send your board off for manufacturing, only to find out your lead times are significantly longer than you expected.
Unfortunately, these 3rd party component obsolescence management and supply chain visibility tools don’t integrate with your PCB design software. Once you find that important component data has been updated or that a desired component will soon become unsourceable, it is difficult to quickly locate and import a suitable replacement component directly into your design documents. When this happens, you’re stuck importing data and updating your design documents manually.
The aforementioned supply chain visibility problems can cause data in PCB libraries to go stale. In the event your design data is updated, you’ll quickly find that these updates will not pass to your design libraries. PCB designers use circuit board design libraries to help expedite design reuse and collaboration. 3rd party data management services already have enough trouble passing updates to your design documents. You’ll be stuck manually updating and compiling your PCB libraries when you use these 3rd party data management tools.
Even worse, you might find that each member of your design team is using inconsistent libraries with stale data. One team member might take the time to manually update their own libraries, while another design team member is too busy updating their design documents to take time to worry about library updates. This is where a centralized data management solution for electronic components, schematic symbols, and component models helps streamline collaboration throughout your design team.
Managing component databases within Altium Designer
Working through any problems related to lack of current parts data and obsolescence management requires a number of important management tools. Working with your own component information database won’t do the trick, especially when it comes to ensuring design data in your PCB libraries remains current. Instead, you need a solution with the following features:
Looking at the PCB component supply chain early during design is the best way to prevent redesigns that can arise due to obsolescence. This helps you identify components that will soon reach the end of their lifecycle and adjust your sourcing strategy as necessary. You can then ensure that the components in your board will be sourceable once your board is sent off for manufacturing.
Your data management solution needs to quickly import component updates into your design documents, PCB libraries, and your integrated libraries. This ensures that your team is collaborating with the same design data, and that your team’s design data is current. This helps prevent redesigns that can arise due to lack of obsolescence management.
You can quickly pass updates to your schematic with Altium Concord Pro
When your design team has a data management solution that is integrated into your PCB design software, you can quickly pass component updates into your design documents and team keep their design libraries consistent and current. You can spot the end of a component’s lifecycle and quickly swap your desired component with a suitable replacement and immediately update your bill of materials and other deliverables.
As an addon for Altium Designer, Altium Concord Pro provides the capabilities you need to solve component lifecycle management problems that other design platforms simply cannot address. These features are integrated alongside the industry-standard design and analysis features in Altium Designer. You won’t have to switch between design and management programs to take advantage of the data management, collaboration, and MCAD integration features in Altium Concord Pro.
Other printed circuit board design platforms still separate design, management, and analysis features into different programs as part of an outdated workflow. Altium Designer’s integrated environment unifies design, simulation, analysis, and management tools in a single program. Altium Concord Pro operates directly within Altium Designer and provides a truly unified product design and data management solution that is adaptable to any workflow.
When you use this powerful design and management platform, Altium gives you access to the resources you need to design and manage component data successfully. You’ll have access to the AltiumLive forum, an extensive knowledge base with plenty of design tips, and webinars and podcasts with industry experts. No other PCB design software company gives you this many resources for success.
If you’re tired of repeatedly redesigning your board with outdated design software, then it’s time to take control of your design and component data with Altium Concord Pro and Altium Designer.