Obsolescence: on the flip side

Q: Flip Electronics is relatively new. Why did the company form?

A: End of life and obsolescence of semiconductor products challenge the supply chain at every step. Most procurers exhaust their franchise distributor’s OEMs and then are forced to look at the ‘gray’ market when components become obsolete. Many issues can arise when purchasing from a non-authorized, non-traceable source, such as date code challenges, counterfeit and quality assurances. Flip Electronics was formed to solve the problem of getting franchise stock for EOL and obsolete components.

Q: What makes Flip Electronics unique compared to other distributors?

A: Most distributors focus on new design wins and supply chain programs; however, Flip’s focus is on those tough-to-get parts that may have been discontinued and are not marketed actively anymore. These parts are just as critical to getting products built as today’s newest technologies. Flip fills the gap between traditional franchise distribution and the ‘gray’ market, supplying established ‘authorized’ lines from original component manufacturers. Component manufacturers benefit by supplying customers they were previously unable to service. Our customers benefit by avoiding the ‘gray’ market.

Can you illustrate how Flip has ensured production line continuation in extreme situations?

Oftentimes, Flip sees demand requests from several companies for similar devices or product lines that have been obsoleted. Last year, Flip used this information to restart a product line. Flip made the up-front investment, including non-recurring engineering charges, and was able to service and support several mil-aero customers. These customers could not have made this investment based solely on their individual usages.

Q: Do you have an overseas presence? 

A: Most of our business is based in North America; however, we are servicing supply chain challenges both in EMEA and APAC as well. In today’s marketplace, many customers have multi-region manufacturing strategies and Flip is equipped to deliver wherever this product is needed.

Q: Does Flip Electronics specialize in preventative obsolescence management or providing options at the latter stages? 

A: Our clients engage with us in both stages. It is very difficult for companies to accurately forecast how much product they should buy in the event of an EOL notification. Semiconductor manufacturers oftentimes have excess product that they want to clear from their factories. Flip invests in this type of product and understands the markets that this product is supporting. In the latter stages, Flip can invest in product runs that an individual customer cannot.

Q: What certifications or trade association memberships do you hold?

A: We take a methodical approach to quality. Currently, Flip is ISO 9001:2015 certified and AS9120:2016 certified. Also, our quality management system is ANSI/ESD-S20.20-2014 certified. We’re also an ECIA member.

Q: What supply chain bumps in the road could impact readers in late 2019 / 2020? 

A: Currently, there is a surplus of product and ample availability in most semiconductor technologies, but this is always subject to change. Many people are closely watching the various trade talks between the United States and China, as well as Korea and Japan. Significant changes in trade relations can affect supply dynamics. Additionally, there continues to be a lot of consolidation in the industry. Every time this happens, product lines get trimmed and pruned, impacting supply chain stability.

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to ESNA readers facing obsolescence and EOL situations? 

A: Understand your BOM and the potential product challenges that may arise. Always avoid the ‘gray’ market to ensure quality and original components. Partner with a company like Flip Electronics that specializes in this market and is fully ‘authorized’ to distribute products that are being targeted for discontinuation or EOL.


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