The Engineering Economist, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 115-139, April-June 2006

Obsolescence Drive Design Refresh Planning for Sustainment-Dominated Systems

P. Singh and P. Sandborn
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Many technologies have lifecycles that are shorter than the lifecycle of the product they are in.  Lifecycle mismatches caused by the obsolescence of technology (and particularly the obsolescence of electronic parts) results in high sustainment costs for long field life systems, e.g., avionics and military systems.  This paper presents a methodology for performing optimum design refresh planning for sustainment-dominated electronic systems based on forecasted technology obsolescence and a mix of obsolescence mitigation approaches ranging from lifetime buys to part substitution.  The methodology minimizes the lifecycle cost by determining a combination of design refresh schedule for the system (i.e., when to design refresh) and the design refresh content for each of the scheduled design refreshes.  The analysis methodology can be used to generate application-specific economic justifications for pro-active design refresh approaches to obsolescence management.

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