IEC Technical Committee 56: Dependability, recently published a second edition of IEC 62402 . The standard establishes requirements for obsolescence management applicable to any company or organization.
Throughout industry, obsolescence refers to the difficulty of obtaining supplies, spares or support by different companies in the supply chain. It is very different from the consumer understanding of obsolescence which most often involves the notion of “inbuilt” or “planned obsolescence”.
It implies that a product was intentionally designed not to last for a long time. This form of obsolescence has been much criticized for encouraging over consumption, at a time when environmental concerns about waste management are reaching new highs.
The B to B definition of obsolescence concerns manufacturers who rely on various supplies or parts to build their devices, products or systems. Minimizing the risks associated with this form of obsolescence has been standardized by TC 56 in IEC 62402.
The idea is for companies to plan ahead to avoid being hindered when spare parts are no longer available, for instance. Parts can become obsolete because production has ended or because they are produced in areas of the world where availability is made difficult for a number of reasons (wars, rebellions, trade disagreements, legislative changes, environmental regulations, etc…)
Management of obsolescence contributes to the dependability of consumer goods, which is an essential requirement for international trade. It reduces costs by limiting risks and helping to smooth out problems in the supply chain.
Widely applicable standard
“The previous edition of IEC 62402 was more of a guide referring only to the obsolescence of electrical and electronic products and systems. It did not clearly specify requirements for obsolescence management.
This second edition has a much broader scope than the previous standard and can be used in any industry,” explains TC 56 expert Graham Goring, who heads the maintenance team responsible for updating the standard.
IEC 62402 is a 100-page document which specifies how to establish an obsolescence management plan, how to set up an obsolescence management infrastructure and organization inside companies, how to develop strategies to minimize obsolescence during design, etc…
“We worked closely with the International Institute of Obsolescence Management (IIOM) and their members helped us get more countries on board for this new edition. It is important to understand that obsolescence should ideally be managed right from the start even before you design your product,” Goring adds.