What To Do When Your Manufacturer Stops Producing Your Part

By Keith Mitnik / March 19, 2024

Finding A New LCD Screen Supplier Partner

There are few factors that can alter a product’s future as potentially dramatically as component obsolescence can. If your supplier tells you that one of your LCD parts will be obsolete, do you have any recourse? Do you have to make major manufacturing changes? Is there a way to prevent such an outcome entirely? Here are some answers to these questions and more. 

Your Part Will Become Obsolete

This is unfortunately a normal part of doing business in the manufacturing world and, if it’s the first time you’re experiencing it, it definitely won’t be the last. Next, consider how long you have before your part is obsolete. It’s pretty standard for a supplier to give 12 months' notice for last time PO placement, with an additional six months to receive the parts. If the time frame you’re given is much shorter than this, it’s unusual.

Get Information & Create A Plan

At Phoenix Display International, we have to deal with the planned obsolescence of our subcomponents as well. When this happens, we always give as much notice as we possibly can - and come to our customers with a full replacement plan at the time of obsolescence notification.

For example, to most common example is an LCD driver IC change, where the IC manufacturer has obsoleted the current IC due to a new die shrunk version coming on board.When then look to see what this manufacturer is offering for a replacement as well as any other option that is available from the entire IC market.  Then we go into design mode and figure out what changes, if any, are required to either our LCD display and subsequently your end product.

The majority of the time we can accommodate our component changes without affecting the fit, form, or function of our product so that there are no changes required by our end product.

There are times however that the nearest component replacement will still drive changes upstream to your end product.This could result in a minor software update and in more rare occurrence, a hardware change. 

Only after all of this work has been completed, do we come to our clients with a full solution.  This includes the last-time component buying plan, a possible stocking solution for either the sub-component or the full LCD display, and then finally the long-term replacement plan. 

Now this process was just explained for the PDI  internal obsolescence mitigation plan.  A main component of our business is doing this process for new clients when their existing supplier has obsoleted their display without a comprehensive or satisfactory plan.  This is called our crossmatch process.  For this process, we take this one step further and we design a whole display around the existing product with the main goal to be a 100% compatible drop-in replacement so there is minimal to zero impact or changes required to the client's end product.

Can You Prevent Obsolescence?

Is there a way to prevent it altogether? No, you can’t completely avoid having parts go obsolete. In our world, every supplier has their own complex supply chain.  This entire web can be up to hundreds of components and therefore the odds of at least one of them making a change is a certainty over a long enough time period.

However, there are steps your supplier can take at the front-end during the design process to make obsolescence less likely–and more easily navigable when it does occur. For instance, let’s say you’re designing a color TFT LCD display. At PDI, we’d make sure we are working with the latest LCD glass panel design. and preferably one that has multiple sources.

While our displays and our clients end products are always custom in nature Wwe always design around the most common sub-components available,  so that we end up having more options. If a problem arises. Even though we can’t completely prevent obsolescence, reviewing every component of our display will help us determine each part’s lifecycle and possibilities for replacement so we can create a plan for potential obsolescence down the road.

If you’ve been told that one of your parts is going obsolete, or simply want to work with a supplier who understands how to prepare for component obsolescence later, let’s talk!


Topics: LCD, LCD Manufacturing, component obsolescence