Designing a printed circuit board and choosing the right electronic components to ensure the performance is a skill. Giving the design longevity and component viability is the skill of a component engineer.
The contribution of the dedicated component engineer would include lifecycle issues and to source appropriate substitutes for obsolete components. The component engineer also will ensure compliance for all lead-free requirements.
Not every engineering team has the luxury of a dedicated component engineer and the role falls elsewhere on the team. So many component manufacturers and distributors have tried to lighten the load of the component engineers by offering some great parametric search options. Many sources have also added suggested alternate options on their obsolete component listings.
Some suggestions for successful parametric searches include choosing only the basic required elements 1st such as package size and value and see what is available. If there is not availability at this top level is it possible to shift to a different package without altering the footprint i.e. 1206 to a 1210 or a melf to a flat package.
For resistors and capacitor, 1st parameters such as package size and value and see what is available. If the package is available but not the value, calculate the value range by adding the given tolerance. Choose a value as close to the center of the range which is available and choose the tightest tolerance available. For crystals and oscillators, try reducing the frequency tolerance to find availability. If the Frequency is not available, several distributors and manufacturers will custom program with a reasonable turn time.
For active components, substituting by expanding the temp range or choosing the automotive grade often will provide more opportunities for availability without compromising the performance.
Project Coordinators at CIC, Inc. source and quote full BoM’s for Kits to be provided to assembly on behalf of our customers. Customers are presented a quote which includes specifics for each component such as lead-time, any life-cycle alert, packaging options, recommended assembly prep (i.e. extenders or leaders/trailers, reeling, etc.). If the component required is not readily available, an alternate may be suggested by the coordinator for engineering approval. Although the project coordinators are not component engineers, the years of component focus provide them with a valuable skill set.
An engineering team can derive great benefits from working with a dedicated project coordinator for valuable input, real-time access to components, and materials prepped for highest assembly yield for the upcoming PCB build.