Just because it’s in your warehouse or in a box in the back of your engineering lab doesn’t mean an electronic component is suitable for use whenever the need arises. That’s because the longer a component has been in house, the greater the odds that there may be an issue that needs to be addressed before it is used. Ignoring these concerns could result in electronic components that are either substandard or counterfeit making it into the supply chain—and into an end product or system where they may result in product failures and warranty costs.
In contrast, when proper precautions are taken aged inventory can be converted from a costly liability to a valuable asset. Which situation would you rather be in?
Here are the main factors to consider before using an in-stock, legacy electronic component:
Unknown Authenticity: Unless an electronic component has full documentation linking it back to the OCM, there’s a chance it might not be authentic: especially if its acquisition predated your organization’s adoption of a counterfeit mitigation plan. You see, back in the day before the threat posed by counterfeit electronics components was widely recognized; independent distributors did not generally screen parts for quality and authenticity. That means the component sitting on your shelf could be counterfeit or otherwise substandard and the only way to feel confident that is not the case, short of a C of C, is to have it undergo comprehensive component authenticity inspection and testing.
Moisture Permeation: The longer an electronic component sits in a warehouse the greater the odds that it has been compromised by moisture. Even a relatively small amount of moisture can cause a product to fail prematurely and there’s a shelf life to dry packing—and climate controlled warehouses have their limitations. Often the most certain and cost-effective way to ensure that moisture is not a problem is to re-bake-out and dry pack in accordance with IPC/JEDEC J-STD-033B.
Compromised Quality: How do you know for sure that components stored long term at your facility will perform to manufacturer’s specifications? Especially if you suspect they could have been mishandled or unintentionally compromised in some manner. Full parametric electrical testing will validate whether or not a component operates in accordance with published specs. That’s one surefire way to be certain that you’re still dealing with a high quality electronic component.
In the end, after proper precautions are taken, aged inventory can be converted from a costly liability to a valuable asset. And when it comes to sensitive electronic components, isn’t it always best to err on the side of caution?