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Obsolescence FAQ


What is obsolescence?

What is Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages or DMSMS?

What causes obsolescence?

What factors make it uneconomical or otherwise unattractive for manufacturers to continue making certain items?

What type of item can become obsolete?

When does DMSMS or obsolescence happen?

How serious is the problem of obsolescence in weapons systems?

What can be done about the problem of microelectronics obsolescence in weapons systems?

 

 

Q: What is obsolescence?

A: Obsolescence is the state or condition of being no longer in use.

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Q: What is Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages or DMSMS?

A: A U.S. Department of Defense term, defined as the loss or impending loss of manufacturers or suppliers of items or the shortages of raw materials.

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Q: What causes obsolescence?

A: The primary cause of obsolescence is commercial profit motive: when an item is no longer economical to produce, manufacturers stop producing it.

The U.S. Department of Defense also contributes to the problem with its long design-to-acquisition lead times which bring about support requirements for military systems that generally extend from 25 to 30 years, as opposed to the 4-to-7-year support cycle expected for many commercial electronics systems.

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Q: What factors make it uneconomical or otherwise unattractive for manufacturers to continue making certain items?

A: From a manufacturer’s perspective, some or all of the following can make it uneconomical or otherwise unattractive to continue to manufacture an item:

  • rapidly changing technologies
  • increased foreign competition
  • environmental regulations
  • safety regulations
  • limited availability of certain necessary materials.

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Q: What type of item can become obsolete?

A: In the experience of the U.S. Department of Defense, most obsolescence occurs with electronics, primarily microcircuits.

Because of today’s accelerating technological changes, even the newest system is not exempt from obsolescence. For instance, the first production model of the F-22 cannot be delivered until its DMSMS issues are resolved.

DMSMS problems affect all weapons systems and materials categories. Obsolescence may not be confined to piece parts. An entire weapons system can be affected.

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Q: When does DMSMS or obsolescence happen?

A: DMSMS can happen at any phase in the acquisition cycle, from design and development through post-production. Material obsolescence may occur at the part, module, subsystem or system level.

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Q: How serious is the problem of obsolescence in weapons systems?

A: Obsolescence can severely impact weapons systems supportability and life cycle costs.

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Q: What can be done about the problem of microelectronics obsolescence in weapons systems?

A: DMEA strives to:

  • develop strategic policies affecting microelectronics obsolescence
  • solve the problems caused by microelectronics obsolescence
  • reduce the adverse effects of diminishing manufacturing sources.

To fulfill its mission, DMEA manages obsolescence. By avoiding strictly reactive obsolescence mitigation activities, more effective and economical solutions can be developed.

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The New Obsolescence

Diminishing Manufacturing Sources (DMS) activities in microelectronics once meant supporting obsolete parts in mature systems, such as the B-52 that will be in service 94 years before being retired. Today’s accelerating technological change means that even the newest system is not exempt. The first production model of the F-22 cannot be delivered without solving DMS issues.

 

 
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