Forecast 2023, Part Two: PLM Trends Will Remain Focused on Digital Transformation

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Over the past two decades, product lifecycle management (PLM) has become increasingly important to ensure not only the effectiveness of a company’s supply chain management but also the ultimate success of products in the marketplace. In the year ahead, intelligent, cloud-based PLM digital solutions—incorporating the use of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IOT)—are also expected to play a crucial role in fostering product optimization and innovation, especially in the face of continued economic challenges.

PLM Digital Solutions

Used by manufacturers to manage the development of complex products, such as medical devices, PLM traditionally may refer to both the strategic process of managing a product’s journey from conception through the end-of-life (EOL) stage and the software used to manage the data and processes for each lifecycle stage across the supply chain. Today, PLM strategy and software are inextricably entwined, and there is greater urgency than ever for companies to adopt effective software solutions to gain dependable, 24/7 access to the complete range of data associated with a product—at all lifecycle stages.

According to data gathered by PTC, “the majority (63%) of manufacturing organizations believe that, without upgrading or reinvestment, their enterprise software systems will remain competitive for roughly two to three years. This means that any organization that upgraded in 2020 before, or at the start of, the pandemic, will likely be seeking to reinvest in its software solutions, [including] around product lifecycle management.”

As companies increasingly upgrade to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, they can ensure that a product’s sustainability and cybersecurity needs are addressed and incorporated into every product lifecycle stage, from ideation to EOL.

For example, PLM software tools can help ensure that products are “sustainable by design,” according to PTC, “using no more material than is physically necessary,” and the use of artificial intelligence can ensure that only the essential materials are being used to create the strongest design. Such technology tools can also help ensure that components are designed to facilitate their disassembly, reuse, and recovery at EOL.

In today’s environment, design- and engineering-focused product teams also require strategic insights for managing risks in their supply chain, particularly with an eye toward components or parts scheduled for EOL, according to manufacturing services company Jabil, which noted that “predictive analysis helps to identify the technology changes that are on the horizon so that necessary modular redesigns get traction early enough to help the OEM maintain leadership and competitiveness in their market.”

PLM Use Cases

Heading into 2023, executives are recognizing that PLM is perhaps more important than ever, as companies continue to face economic uncertainty due to war, inflation, lingering challenges from the receding COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing supply chain issues.

A recent article by engineering.com notes that the use of intelligent PLM software and processes helps companies achieve and access data standardization and consolidation, cross-business integration, improved user experience, and cross-platform analytics—all necessary to drive innovation and sustainable business resilience.

According to experts like Oracle, PLM software and IOT are being used for a variety of use cases, which include:

  • Seamlessly integrating data and processes in supply chain systems to develop a holistic product development strategy
  • Driving faster innovation to launch by more efficiently designing, developing, and managing new product introductions and engineering change requirements
  • Enforcing product compliance and tracking changes throughout a product’s lifecycle to adjust to changing global standards

Additionally, both Oracle and engineering.com note that PLM will play an important role in supporting the use of digital twins, or the digital representation of products, for tasks such as running virtual what-if scenarios, predicting the cost or benefit of product modifications, and ensuring optimal product performance.

“Going forward, virtual twins are becoming more realistic, more accurate, more predictive, more dynamic, and more timely representations of the real,” said engineering.com, noting that effective digital twin management implies robust lifecycle management.

This approach to using technology to monitor product lifecycles, especially with an eye toward EOL, is at the heart of what Dynamic Technology Solutions does when it evaluates and recommends technology solutions to maximize the lifespan of components used in mission-critical systems. To find out how this could work for your products, watch Dynamic’s Product Lifecycle Management case study video and download its Technology Asset Lifecycle Management Solutions fact sheet (PDF).

The Chip Shortage May be Abating, but Med Device Companies Must Maintain Vigilance

microchip close up

While many industries — notably medical devices companies — have had to continually adjust their supply chains, or even delay production, to deal with an international shortage in semiconductor chips these past three years, that situation seems to be abating. Bain & Company, for example, recently reported that “some companies are starting to see relief.” And many observers were encouraged by the passage this past summer of the CHIPS and Science Act, which calls for the investment of more than $52 billion in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and workforce training, as well as another $24 billion in tax credits for chip production over 10 years.

This investment is intended to protect overall manufacturing. At present, only 12% of chip factories are in the U.S., while 75% are in East Asia. Reducing microchip imports will help stabilize medical device supply chains, which have been vulnerable to suppliers based in only one part of the world.

Looking forward to the implementation of the CHIPS Act, the Advanced Medical Technology Assocation (AdvaMed), the world’s largest trade association representing medical device manufacturers, is advocating that the U.S. government prioritize the delivery of chips to the medical device industry. World leaders outside of Asia are also playing their part. Having seen the threat that the microchip shortage had on products that protect their own citizens’ health, the European Commission recommended its member states address the chip shortages immediately and work with chip manufacturers to prioritize producing semiconductors for healthcare.

Preparing for Future Shortages

But those developments, while positive, don’t mean medical device manufacturers — nearly 80% of whom have reported production delays — no longer have to worry. Lessons from the past three years indicate not only a need for vigilance, but also for preparation.

Given the importance of chips used in medical devices, which must be reliable and able to handle power spikes, maintain security, and comply with privacy regulations, finding alternative vendors remains an issue, especially when the chips in question are “mature” — older and not as cutting-edge as the latest chip designs. Chip manufacturers would prefer producing newer microprocessors with a greater profit margin, and may not be interested in the medical technology market, which only uses about 1% of microchips sold.

One such manufacturer, Baxter International, which has several products that use multiple semiconductors, has lobbied its suppliers to prioritize manufacturing chips for the medical device industry in order to keep up with the demand from patients and healthcare providers. Other companies, such as Hologic, which uses only a few hundred chips per month in its production process, have had to reduce their use of microchips while working with their technology vendors.

The message: Given the experience of the past three years and despite encouraging signs, maintaining readiness remains critical in order for medical device companies to reduce the impact of another supply disruption. Here are some suggestions for how to prepare:

Reduce Supply Vulnerability – A survey by Deloitte showed that 70% of medical technology companies received more than half of their semiconductor chips from one vendor. Buying large volumes from one supplier can provide significant discounts, but it obviously leads to problems when that vendor can’t deliver their promised shipments. Regular supply risk assessments can help find developing issues before they become problems, as well as increasing supply inventories and finding alternative vendors before they’re needed.

Maintain End-to-End Visibility Throughout the Supply Chain – According to Gartner, supply chain forecast accuracy has improved as more companies incorporate analytics into their production. But a deeper, end-to-end visibility helps get an accurate picture of both future customer demand and component inventories. Supply reliability solutions that align with a vendor’s system may not have prevented the chip shortage but they could have alerted medical technology companies earlier in the crisis.

Partner With a CMO – Original equipment manufacturers developing partnerships with contract manufacturing organizations (CMO) closer to target markets can simplify inventory management, according to Ralph Tricomi, director, market development for Web Industries. Ideally the partner CMO has the market knowledge and supplier relationships to acquire the microchips needed to continue production.

Increase Awareness of Medical Technology – As AdvaMed has shown, advocating for medical device manufacturers to receive its supply of microchips is critical. Maintaining communication with governments whether through trade groups or individually about the essential nature of microchips in medical devices and the impact of the shortage on public health is essential, even as the shortage eases.

With chip manufacturers building more factories and capacity, and the CHIPS Act boosting U.S. production, the worst of the recent shortage is probably over. This microchip crisis may not be the last one to impact medical device manufacturers but it’s probably safe to say that the industry is better prepared for the next one.

Adopting a Sustainable Mindset to Combat Medical Device Waste

green medtech

Sustainable business practices allow companies to acknowledge and address environmental issues while also creating value, increasing revenue, and gaining cost savings. Environmentally aware organizations typically integrate a sustainability mindset into all of their activities, embedding it into their corporate strategy, purpose, and culture.

In the medtech industry, the sustainability conversation often begins with the problem of medical waste and the role of disposable plastic packaging to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers, as well as how to balance a sustainable approach with health and safety.

Many experts believe it is essential for medical device developers and manufacturers to embrace sustainability in order to ensure regulatory compliance and future profitability. “Sustainable medical devices are better for the environment and attractive to consumers and can provide cost savings, investor interest, and improved brand and competitive advantage,” notes a recent Medtech News article.

However, a sustainable approach to medical device production is not limited to discussions about disposable packaging and whether or not the device is recyclable. Instead, it means considering “how to reduce carbon emissions, energy and water use, and material waste across its entire lifespan, from design and material selection, to supply chain, to manufacturing and distribution,” said Medtech News.

The Lowest Possible Environmental Impact

Developers and manufacturers must consider all of these factors, as well as the safety and usability of the devices for patients and end users. They should “strive to achieve products with the lowest possible environmental impact throughout the product lifecycle without compromising performance, patient safety, functionality, aesthetics, quality, or cost,” notes the pharma industry news publisher On Drug Delivery.

According to these sources, an “eco-design” approach to device development and manufacturing could include:

  • The use of eco-friendly device materials
  • Designing “small” to minimize the use of unnecessary materials
  • Designing to maximize use of existing technologies, such as wireless technology
  • Manufacturing processes that minimize energy and water use
  • Minimal packaging using recyclable or degradable materials
  • Designing devices to ensure easy disassembly, facilitating reuse and recovery of device components at end of life

Medical device manufacturers and distributors, as well as healthcare companies, can also benefit the environment by finding a thoughtful and effective waste management partner. These partners will help ensure that discarded items are destroyed properly and in a sustainable manner, says Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI).

Sharing the Vision

According to MD+DI, the right waste management partner will:

  • Have a shared sustainability vision with its customer
  • Offer customized solutions for the customer’s needs
  • Take a dedicated, personalized approach to recycling and beneficially reusing waste that would otherwise end up in landfills
  • Offer enhanced data tracking and reporting of waste stream management and how efforts align with financial sustainability and corporate goals

The Dynamic Technology Solutions team heard plenty of buzz first hand this past year at industry events, including the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council conference and the Diversity Alliance for Science conference, about the need for businesses to adopt an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) perspective and how ESG is more important than ever. Medical device developers and manufacturers must embrace sustainability strategies and practices or else risk being left out of future business opportunities with companies that are prioritizing ESG.

Here’s another recent Dynamic Technology Solutions story on sustainability and ESG:

The Supply Chain Connection with ESG Performance

 

How Artificial Intelligence Is Driving Product Lifecycle Management

How Artificial Intelligence Is Driving Product Lifecycle Management

Today artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being integrated into platforms across industries, and the healthcare sector is no exception, with AI being used to support medical device Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

The ability to apply machine learning to PLM systems can help medical device manufacturers drive insights more effectively from product data that has been collected over many months, or even years, said digital transformation provider Kalypso. This sort of “product lifecycle intelligence” applies AI and automation to help users develop predictions and to recommend improvements, ultimately allowing manufacturers to prevent costly product delays and failures.

Kalypso detailed how one top medical device manufacturer addressed its global challenges by using AI and machine learning to drive measurable business results. “By combining PLM with product lifecycle intelligence,” they said, “companies can bridge the gap in PLM analytics capability today, allowing them to understand current performance, historical averages, and the variances across different business units and functions. These insights can help them develop more meaningful customer experiences, while driving business and product value.”

A Higher Level of Guidance

AI-powered product insights platforms now exist that help companies create and market their products more effectively, and they can contribute meaningfully to every stage of the product development cycle, said AI innovator Rodrigo Pantigas, CPO and co-founder of AI-driven insights startup Birdie, in a recent article for technology news site VentureBeat. Using the right platform during the different stages of the product development cycle can help companies maximize their return on investment.

For example, when conducting competitive assessments and evaluating trends during the initial development stage, AI-driven product intelligence can provide a higher level of guidance beyond human concept testing and social listening. “Instead of latent indicators caused by surfacing reading of comments today, product intelligence platforms can crunch the totality of conversations to understand where customer preferences are going,” reported Pantigas.

Once a product has been built and is ready to launch, “the right intelligence platforms can tap into existing conversations to understand existing customer perception both about the anticipation of this launch and consumers’ ongoing opinions about the product category and competition—which can also help to identify product issues and crises early on,” said Pantigas. “It allows you to contrast your product against the competitive set, as well as identify channels that could help get your product in front of a much wider audience.”

Real-time Metrics

AI offers the ability to generate real-time metrics on a product’s health, growth, and risk factors, which is “important for successful product managers to add an additional layer of efficiency with strategic and operational decision-making,” noted Skyjed, an AI platform provider for product teams. The ability to access data about a product’s health on the fly helps teams make more effective decisions as market conditions evolve, providing them with a competitive advantage.

Dynamic Technologies has a role to play in helping your company identify and manage the lifecycles of connected hardware and software in your supply chain. Our technology supply chain management services include product sourcing, supply chain design, and management, and product procurement. Review our case studies and learn more about how we can help you with your next project.

Medical Device Cybersecurity Challenges and How to Counter Them

Cybersecurity Challenges

As cyber threats to the healthcare sector continue to ramp up in frequency and severity in the U.S. and globally, they increase the risk of rendering medical devices inoperable and disrupting patient care. In a worst-case scenario, ransomware attacks on medical devices can put protected health information at risk or even threaten lives. In this environment, healthcare cybersecurity experts report the need for improved standards and better efforts by hospitals and manufacturers to share responsibility for medical device security.

One of the challenges healthcare organizations face is defending older legacy medical devices – which often were not built with security in mind—against the growing threats of hacker attacks, according to a recent MedTech Dive article. Hospitals contend that as the end users, they bear a heavier burden for securing medical devices than medical device manufacturers do, and the American Hospital Association wants to see the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate lifetime support of medical devices by manufacturers.

MedTech Dive also says the FDA has warned that unpatched medical devices “will become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks over time and has called for more communication from OEMs when they can no longer support software upgrades and patches needed to address their devices’ cybersecurity risks.” 

Mitigating Risk Throughout the Product Life Cycle 

According to the FDA, the need for effective cybersecurity to ensure medical device functionality and safety has become more important with the increasing use of wireless, internet- and network-connected devices; portable media like USB drives; and the frequent electronic exchange of medical device-related health information.

The agency in April released draft guidance titled “Cybersecurity in Medical Devices: Quality System Considerations and Content of Premarket Submissions,” which is intended to provide recommendations to agency staff and the industry regarding cybersecurity device design, labeling, and the documentation that the FDA recommends be included in premarket submissions for devices with cybersecurity risk.

This new draft guidance replaces an earlier 2018 draft version and is intended to further emphasize the importance of ensuring that devices are designed securely, enabling emerging cybersecurity risks to be mitigated throughout the total product life cycle, and to outline more clearly the FDA’s recommendations for premarket submission content to address cybersecurity concerns. The draft was shared for public comment between April 8 and July 7 as Docket Number FDA-2021-D-1158-0001 on the Regulations.gov website, but as of this writing, it is not yet considered final or ready for implementation.

When securing medical devices, some of the primary challenges IT departments face include non-secure device designs, standardized configurations, patching restrictions, and insider threats, according to cybersecurity solutions provider Cybeats. They recommend the following four best practices to help healthcare organizations improve the security of their medical devices:

  • Endpoint protection – Securing not only the medical device but also the endpoints they connect to, such as workstations
  • Access management – Binding device authentication to the corporate authentication system
  • Asset management – Maintaining a reliable inventory of medical devices and software components
  • Vulnerability management – Conducting a vulnerability assessment of the software deployed on medical devices and reviewing vulnerability disclosures provided by vendors

For more medical device security guidance, visit:

Read Related Dynamic Technology Solutions Content:

Supply Chain Cybersecurity: The Ukrainian War Increases Your Company’s Risk

Software Is Not a Panacea for Product End-of-Life Management

software laptop user

Many companies involved in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries use software to monitor the lifecycle of products and components, particularly those items nearing their specified end of life (EOL). But is this approach effective? Sometimes managers don’t realize that software is not necessarily a reliable lifecycle management tool until it is too late, after device decommissioning has had an impact on patients and public health safety.

Most large suppliers have designated EOL dates for products and components, but the end of life for certain medical device components is not as simple as just replacing the components. It requires a company to evaluate what’s being replaced, identify the impact, make necessary updates, and conduct rigorous testing and reviews to verify and validate the new product.

As we previously reported, if a product goes EOL without proper advance planning, it has the potential to disrupt the company’s supply chain, negatively impact revenue, diminish customer loyalty and incur unexpected costs. Companies failing to track EOL effectively also risk using technology that is no longer supported by its manufacturer, which can be dangerous and incur liability.

Managers may rely on software to plan for EOL, to be notified of upcoming EOL dates, and to manage change requests during an EOL migration. However, software solutions alone fall short, because the necessary end-of-life information often must be manually supplied by product manufacturers or suppliers. This human factor introduces risk and negates the accuracy of the software.

In those cases, the software designed to track EOL issues can provide companies with a false sense of security, leaving them in danger of being caught unprepared. Because software solutions always present an inherent risk of not delivering essential EOL information, companies need a reliable and automated means through which to obtain timely and accurate EOL information from their suppliers and OEMs.

Human Involvement Required for Complete EOL Transparency

Dynamic Technology Solutions has developed EOL and lifecycle management services to meet this need. We deliver on this requirement by proactively contacting the product suppliers regarding EOL issues to gain accurate, first-hand insights into current conditions and forecasts.

Armed with these insights, we can provide a consolidated view of lifecycle roadmaps with data integrated from our 800+ OEM and technology partners, enabling us to deliver automated alerts to key company stakeholders to inform them of EOL dates, which trigger a proactive EOL transition process.

Dynamic helps ensure seamless transitions and continuity for any changes that affect the components in our customers’ devices, while reducing risk. Learn more about Dynamic’s proactive EOL planning services by clicking here.

Software solutions provide efficiencies for countless business applications across different industries. But until there is a 100% reliable means to collect and disseminate EOL information from hundreds of suppliers, software applications for EOL management can never be expected to provide the level of safety and assurance required for medical device and pharmaceutical applications, where lives and human welfare is at stake. That’s why Dynamic invests the time necessary to ensure complete EOL transparency.

Don’t Be Taken by Surprise: The Case for Proactive End-of-Life (EOL) Planning

Proactive Product End of Life

Not long ago, the manufacturer of an automated, high-performance medical device was getting ready to introduce a new system. The new product had been validated, and the company had scheduled the launch. But in a last-minute review, the product development team realized that one of the device’s key technical components was nearing the end of its lifecycle. There was no way the company could release the product with components that were about to expire but replacing them with a next-generation version would have required revalidation—and that would have significantly delayed the product launch.

The dilemma this company faced points to the critical importance of taking a proactive approach to end-of-life planning. Without that, this type of surprise can result not only in operational disruptions but also in financial loss and, perhaps more critically, an undercutting of customer loyalty—which could be long-term.

Too Little, Too Late

While most companies know they need to pay attention to product lifecycles, many rely on notifications from OEM vendors to alert them that the end of a product’s life is approaching. However, a recent study by SiliconExpert indicates that those notifications may not be coming soon enough. As SiliconExpert reported, “companies typically fall victim to a high demand and limited availability situation.” As a result, the study found that “28% of product change notices (PCNs) were for part numbers with last time buy dates of ‘immediately,’ meaning that waiting for a PCN may result in a costly redesign.”1

How can you avoid being the “victim” in this scenario? The key is starting by taking an integrated approach across engineering, product management, and the supply chain that not only includes a view of the entire product lifecycle but is also a critical part of the product management process. This requires understanding, identifying, and tracking each of the assemblies, parts, and raw materials that will become part of a finished good—capturing end-of-life data along the way.

Rank and File

While products with an active status might not have a published EOL date, it’s possible to estimate EOL by determining the normal lifecycle for each type of part and then subtracting the amount of time during which the product has been in production.

All the components should be ranked based on both their estimated lifecycle and their supply chain vulnerabilities—but it’s also important to consider how consequential each component is to the business and the disruptions that could occur should the part reach its EOL.

Understanding all of that will allow you to plan future updates proactively and look for substitute products or components well before you need them.

An important part of being proactive is qualifying second sources for the parts and components you’ll need. This involves validating alternate parts, identifying additional sourcing options, and planning two generations of a product or instrument simultaneously. By doing this, you can avoid potential supply constraints, long before you’re faced with either EOL or product obsolescence.

For the medical device manufacturer faced with a part at the end of its life, Dynamic was able to help by making a last time buy of all the stock of that product then available and holding it in the Dynamic warehouse. This allowed the company to make its launch date. At the same time, however, Dynamic was able to help the company prepare for the future by providing research and recommendations for available replacement options that met specifications and integrating those into the customer’s change management processes.

To better understand your company’s EOL risk and exposure, consider utilizing Dynamic’s newest tool, the EOL PrepSM Self-Diagnostic, which is available on a complimentary basis to industry professionals by clicking here.

 

1 https://www.siliconexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/SiliconExpert-White-Paper-How-Reliable-is-EOL-Forecasting.pdf

Managing the “Big 3” Product End-Of-Life (EOL) Risks

Managing Product End of Life Risks

Managing End-of-Life (EOL) transitions of components or products is a challenging business discipline. Some OEMs provide advance notice of product EOL dates, which can alert your company to trigger a transition process. However, sometimes external factors – including technology shortages or supply chain constraints – can shorten or negatively impact transition time.

Addressing the Three Biggest EOL Risks

To address risks, your company should proactively identify and prepare for the three biggest product EOL risks, which include:

  • Operational Disruption often results from the staff’s lack of time to support the research, procurement and testing of alternate solutions. In complex industries, the testing and validation of a new component often involves multiple internal and external stakeholders and can take months, often pulling resources from other key projects.
  • Financial Loss can occur from an inability to ship product or provide a service. This is a major concern, particularly in regulated industries, where even a minor component change can halt an entire system, and have significant balance sheet implications.
  • Customer Loyalty is always tested when a significant product delay or outage occurs. There is often little tolerance from customers, who expect technology to function without disruption, and customer loss is a tangible risk.

Mitigating the “Big 3” Product EOL Risks: Your Change Management Plan

The most effective course of action your company can follow to avoid the “Big 3” EOL risks is to proactively plan for them. The initial step in this process is to ensure proactive notification of upcoming EOL dates. It’s essential to maintain a view of product lifecycle roadmaps; to understand exactly what is in each Bill of Materials (BOM) for each finished product; and to automatically receive notifications at the product, component and accessory levels. As an EOL date approaches, a transition process can be triggered, and a Change Management Plan created.

Your Change Management Plan should address how the component or product change could impact or disrupt the business. It should also include the estimated timeline, and information about replacement options. Often the EOL product or component will have a direct replacement or next-generation option. If a direct replacement is not available, satisfactory options will need to be researched, and supply chain risk and availability for those options will need to be analyzed. Depending on industry regulations and the differences with the replacement product, a re-validation process might be required.

As part of its change management plan, your company should also consider making a last time buy of available stock for an EOL component or product.  This can be an effective strategy to bridge the transition and prevent potential business interruption. Last time buys often involved warehousing of the inventory and potential price increases of the component due to limited supply.

How Dynamic Can Help with EOL Risk Management

Managing the “Big 3” EOL risks across multiple products and platforms is a labor-intensive undertaking that requires proactive planning and process management. As an initial step in evaluating EOL risk exposure, Dynamic has created the EOL PrepSM Self-Diagnostic. This tool consists of ten questions that can help your company identify and prioritize specific vulnerabilities and opportunities related to its EOL risks; to understand the complete range of EOL best practices it should follow; and to create a tailored action plan designed to reduce its EOL-related risks.

Dynamic’s EOL PrepSM Self-Diagnostic is available on a complimentary basis to industry professionals upon request, by clicking here. Dynamic provides a broad range of services related to product lifecycle management, including EOL risk management, and is prepared to answer any questions you may have.

Evaluate Your Company’s Product End-of-Life (EOL) Risk With a 10-Question Self-Diagnostic Tool

Medical Device Product End-of-Life (EOL) Management

Product End-of-Life (EOL) planning is often the most critical phase of technology lifecycle management, particularly for complex businesses – such as medical device manufacturing – where the consequences of disruption or product failure can be significant.

End-of-Life issues become a priority when an OEM no longer produces, sells, or provides upgrades, fixes or other related services for essential technology hardware or software. Without advance awareness and proper planning, these changes can make essential products or entire systems inoperable.

Most companies are well prepared for initial product lifecycle stages, involving research & development or market introduction of a new device or technology product. Relatively few companies, however, prepare for an orderly transition in advance of when its products, or connected product components, are phased out.

Without proper planning, a product’s EOL issues pose significant risks. If a product goes EOL without advance notification and preparation, it has the potential to disrupt the company’s supply chain, negatively impact revenue, and diminished customer loyalty. A company may also be required to pay a significant sum of money to secure a last-time buy of the necessary product or component.

Get Started on Product EOL Risk Management

With Dynamic’s 10-Question EOL PrepSM Self-Diagnostic

For companies that do not have any EOL risk management disciplines in place, that task can seem complex and daunting. Conversely, for companies that do have relevant EOL-related processes and procedures, there is always the risk of operating with outdated or insufficient protection. In both cases, application of EOL PrepSM provides a fast and effective way to either design or update an effective risk management strategy.

To address that need, and based on its deep experience in product EOL and lifecycle management, Dynamic has created the EOL PrepSM Self-Diagnostic, consisting of 10 questions that will enable companies to:

  • Identify specific protections and vulnerabilities related to their EOL-related risks;
  • Understand the complete range of EOL best practices they should follow;
  • Prioritize the EOL capabilities that need to be established or improved by their company;
  • Create a tailored action plan designed to reduce their EOL-related risks.

Dynamic’s EOL Prep SM Self-Diagnostic is available on a complimentary basis to industry professionals on request, by clicking here. Dynamic’s product lifecycle management professionals welcome the opportunity to provide additional insight into the use of its EOL self-diagnostic tool, and to answer any questions regarding the firm’s product lifecycle risk management capabilities.

Find Product Alternatives in Advance to Minimize Supply Chain Disruption

product end of life cycle managament

Current supply chain challenges – ranging from shipping and transportation delays, to labor shortages and unpredictable demand — force many companies to identify product end of life solutions to find alternative products and components. In turn, specifications in Bill of Materials (BOMs) are less rigid, as companies realize that the immediate supply chain challenges are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. The most enduring supply chain lesson of the pandemic may be that companies now understand that they can better manage disruptions and improve overall efficiency by identifying alternative, qualified products for major projects and new initiatives well in advance, as a means to reduce risks related to unexpected events of all types.

In advance of the pandemic, the industry began to apply greater rigor in supply chain risk management, by identifying risk factors that were either inherent in the manufacturing process, or that had a high likelihood to cause disruption based on geography, the political environment and other external factors. In fact, Dynamic has played a leadership role in creation of risk management tools, with the introduction of its Supply Chain Risk Scoring Process, which includes a detailed analysis of BOMs and the supply chains related to each material, as well as a risk scoring methodology to evaluate multiple risk categories associated with technology supply chains.

Companies seeking to manage risk by identifying alternative qualified products should begin that process by applying a supply chain risk scoring process to measure the viability of existing and alternative components against major risk factors including availability, ease of delivery and anticipated lifecycle.

Testing Product Options is a Secondary Benefit

Proactively identifying material or component alternatives also enables companies to test multiple product options. This capability is particularly relevant in industries — such as medical device, life sciences, and aerospace & defense — that have a greater complexity in product design and production methods. These companies often have First Article Identification (FAI) compliance and stringent documentation requirements. Finding component alternatives in advance that match specifications, and testing them in parallel, enables those companies to swap out pre-qualified components if supply becomes constrained.

Product End of Life Alternatives in Action

Dynamic has helped several clients mitigate supply disruption by providing viable alternatives. A medical device manufacturing client was preparing for a product launch when it learned that a key technical component connected to their device was nearing the end of its lifecycle. Introducing a next-generation or replacement part at that late stage would have required re-validation. To manage the risk, Dynamic made a last time buy of the entire component stock; provided comprehensive research and recommendations for available replacement options that met specifications, and integrated those into the customer’s transition change management processes. The client evaluated and tested the replacement and was able to seamlessly transition to the new component, minimizing its revenue generation risk.

To better manage supply disruption, a greater number of companies are identifying alternative components proactively. What’s now being done out of necessity in the aftermath of the pandemic needs to become standard practice. Companies that did not learn from the lessons of the pandemic, or that relax their risk management standards as the memory of those lessons fade, will likely pay the price (again) for their inability to prepare for the risks inherent in an interconnected supply chain.