Rising to the Challenges of Obsolescence


Fighter Jet

Obsolescence is a recurring issue in our industry. That's inevitable, given the extended lifetime of the typical program, combined with the growing reliance on commercial technologies. 

We had an interesting case recently with a customer whose embedded network interface card could no longer be manufactured due to parts obsolescence. The company had won a contract that required a substantial quantity of the obsolete product and began in earnest to review options on the web to see if other products of similar vintage (and ruggedness) were still being offered for sale.

Fortunately, we still make such a card and support the necessary drivers and harsh environment for the customer’s application. But: the customer threw us a curve that the rear pin-outs of our product needed to be modified to support their previous card’s I/O.  

Fortunately, one of the strengths of our company is being able to create derivatives of standard products to support our customers’ unique requirements—so we re-designed the card and provided it to the customer for their evaluation.   

Customer delight

The customer’s evaluation included a number of extended environmental stress tests to ensure there would be no failures during flight, and passed along to us a requirement that all product needed to have thermal environmental stress screening. The environmental stress screening required us to develop and build a special test fixture to accommodate the customers’ thermal stress requirements.

Suffice it to say that the board underwent over 800 thermal cycles, and required no modification. The customer was delighted.

This is just an example of how running into an obsolescence problem with an end of life product can take on several phases to have success—finding a potential replacement product, a need to re-design standard product, ensure proper operation in the customer’s environment, and delivery of a reliable production product. 

Abaco Systems has significant experience and multiple options available to help our customers succeed when they run into obsolescence issues with products. Please let us know how we can help you.


Richard Spiesman's picture

Richard Spiesman

Richard is a 40-year veteran of the embedded computing industry. Having graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he joined Motorola before moving on to RAMIX, who were acquired by GE in 2003. He is now product manager for Abaco's networks and communications product line.

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