In June of 2015, Parts.io became the first electronic component search engine to quantify risk on all components in the supply chain with RiskRank. We took the four lifecycle stages of a product and combined data factors to have a numeric comparison between parts. This allows designers to understand the risk of a component in their design, or the risk posed by including a component in a new design. Our users have been making more intelligent decisions based upon these factors.
Over the past six months, we’ve assessed how to better capture the riskiness of a part, and have now updated the risk ranking to better reflect the risk. We now use even more data per lifecycle stage to give an even clearer view of risk factors.
Overall, we have simplified the lifecycle phases. The Design and Prototype phases were combined into a single “Design” phase due to the amount of overlap. This phase represents the risk of a putting that component into a brand new design. It pulls in data related to lifecycle, price volatility, and availability. These measurements help you to answer vital questions like, “Is this part recommended for new designs?”, “Has this part had a historically stable amount of stock in the supply chain?” or “Has the price been swinging wildly over the past few months?”
Beyond adjusting the Design phase, we’ve included more data about parts than ever before. These factors are incorporated into all stages of the RiskRank. Price volatility. Inventory volatility. Functional equivalent availability. Minimum order quantity. Reference designs. Even something as simple as asking the basic question, “Is there publicly published a datasheet?” results in adjusting the riskiness of a product up or down. These are combined together in different ways for the ‘Design’, ‘Production’ and ‘Long Term’ measures of Risk.
While we’re looking at this, let’s quickly review each of these lifecycle stages, what they mean and when to use them. The easiest way to think about it is, “I’m looking for a component to design into a product in the _________ phase”.
- Design – This is before a part is actually designed into a product. The designer is searching for new components and making an assessment of whether or not to design the part into the board. When comparing 5 different parts that look relatively the same, the designer can choose based on cost and risk, because the low cost of a part might lead to higher costs (obsolescence) later.
- Production – After a product is released into production, the manufacturability of that product comes into focus. Doing an audit of an existing Bill of Material (BOM) will show which parts have risk in the Production stage. If a part has high volatility, cannot be bought at a variety of distributors, has recently changed lifecycle status to “Last Buy” (eep!) or a range of other factors, that part is higher risk. In the event you need to replace a component for a product in production, doing a comparison between similar components–perhaps finding other parts with a similar base number–is aided by the Production RiskRank number. This is especially true when deciding between multiple potential replacement components.
- Long Term – When looking to replace a component for a product that has been and will continue to be around for a long time, it’s important to look at this final piece of RiskRank. The Long Term phase will incorporate data about RoHS, Functional Equivalents and the long term stock history of a component. When looking to replace a part that has been in a product for a while, it’s best to target a part that will stick around for an even longer time. The Long Term RiskRank will help to find parts that will last as long as your product.
We believe the new risk ranking statistics more accurately reflect the reality of all available data. Parts.io will continue to hone and adjust the risk ranking as we go forward, so you can have confidence in the parts you select.