Raising the Dead: How to Resurrect Obsolete Embedded Computer Products

Press Office, VersaLogic Corporation, 10/28/20

Why Would Obsolete Products Need to Be Resurrected?

Even the best supply chain, sales, and marketing teams can get the forecast wrong. Whether supporting a government contract extension, avoiding regulatory re-certification (FDA, DOD, DOT), or simply finding that the end customers need more of the “old model” product, there are many reasons to need additional units from your supplier. This becomes a major problem if the need is an embedded computer at the heart of the machine and it is no longer in production.

All computer products eventually hit their end of life. There’s usually a chance to make a last-time buy, but with most suppliers that’s the end of the line. The product will never be built, stocked, or shipped again. Fortunately, that’s not the case with products from VersaLogic.

Even with products that have long since passed their EOL notice, last time buy date, and last time delivery date, VersaLogic can often perform the magic of resurrecting old and obsolete products.

VersaLogic’s robust EOL processes include archiving BOM and build documentation, mothballing test fixtures and related software, and in some cases preserving critical components in stock, rather than flushing them out of inventory.

How Obsolete Is It?

With VersaLogic’s focus on long-term availability, there are actually several different designations for obsolete products.

  • The “Obsolete” designation means that a product has passed its end of life and is no longer available off the shelf. There may be a few components that are difficult to obtain in order to build the product. These “obsolete” products can usually be manufactured when needed as a special-order item.
  • The “Dead” designation means that the design is quite old and has numerous components that are obsolete. It is considered difficult or impossible to build more units.

But if there is a critical customer need, even “dead” products have managed to be resurrected. That’s where zombie builds come in…

In resurrecting “dead” products, VersaLogic partners with their customers to determine the best path forward. Most proposals include a component search and procurement fee, as well as the cost for each unit built. Once the proposal is accepted the real work starts!

A Zombie Case Study

VersaLogic was approached about resurrecting a product for a defense contractor that was designed into their system in 2007. This customer had made a last-time-buy when the product went end-of-life in 2014. Years later the government contract was extended, and they had an opportunity to deliver 1,200 more systems.

Leveraging the archived data and materials needed to build the product, VersaLogic’s sourcing experts went to work. They were able to locate all of the necessary components, many of which were obsolete, to build the product. There was one small catch: how to mitigate the risks associated with the components that were sourced from qualified grey market distributors?

versalogic cheetah

The EPM-32 Cheetah, circa 2007

Through VersaLogic’s internal grey market qualification and counterfeit mitigation processes, combined with 3rd party inspection and verification services, all of the components were confirmed to be genuine.

VersaLogic successfully delivered 1,200 of these “zombie” units, to support the needs of the contractor, and the end-user (US Navy).

The ability to bring badly needed products “back from the dead” is just one more way that VersaLogic supports its customers – over the long haul.