Think Strategically About RF/microwave Repair, Replace, Obsolescence, and Testing Decisions

It’s not uncommon for OEMs to address their RMAs * by leaning towards replacing their returned RF/microwave components, subsystems, and assemblies instead of repairing them.  Whether it’s to avoid  the hassle of shifting talent around, or tieng up machinery for small runs, a true cost/benefit analysis is often incomplete. In many cases, the replace decisionis in fact, not the most efficient or profitable option, it’s simply a matter of convenience.. Moreover, the replace decision does not provide a critical value proposition that the repair process offers. Properly managed and documented, repairing vs. replacing RF products creates a very informative feedback loop that is beneficial in analyzing manufacturing and/or application orientedfailures. This feedback can be vital to improving production processes and meeting stringent military standards (MIL-STDs).


So how does an RF/microwave manufacturer address the day-to-day realities of disruption and talent management when committing to repairing vs. replacing their RF/microwave product returns? One solution is to completely redirect the repair process in the organization to a trusted RF manufacturing and repair partner, and treating repair as a separate entity and vital function. This can have considerable benefits, especially when returns and production volumes are both up. Having an effective relationship with an RF repair service partner will help to ensure your critical equipment has a high percentage of quality uptime, and engineering, production, and test team members are focused on the most important and profitable projects at-hand.


Reacting to Obsolescence of Components from other Manufacturers


Part obsolescence is also a reality in the RF/microwave market. With a dedicated RF partner at-hand who also offers design engineering services, OEMs are provided relief when part obsolescence effects only a small percentage of overall deliveries and these assemblies need some re-thinking—but don’t justify the high-level engineering and production staff required to do so.


Optimizing Your Test Department


A dedicated partner who is also committed to maintaining a fully-equipped high frequency testing and screening lab can offer turnkey service and help stave off major test department investments of your own. They can also offer advice on the possibility of making proven after-market modifications to your microwave test equipment, and can often make the modifications for you. With this at your disposal, you can strategically plan how (or if) you’ll maintain backwards compatibility of your test benches to handle legacy designs, while looking ahead to the future of testing your most advanced designs.    


In conclusion


For military/defense and aerospace component and subsystem manufacturers considering new and better ways to handle RMAs, evaluating the value of a dedicated RF partner is simply a must.An experienced RFcontract design, manufacturing, and repair outsource provides a bona fide solution to engineering and production management challenges created when RMAs flood a loading dock, or even worse—trickle in.


*Return material authorization (RMA) is a term that describes an arrangement in which the supplier of a RF/microwave product agrees to allow the customer to ship a unit or units back to them with routine—whether under warranty or as part of a commitment to offering long-term maintenance of units to keep radar and communication systems running over long periods of time. This sort of agreement, which is also called a return merchandise authorization, is often required by military and defense contractors and necessitates that a supplier creates a systematic plan for responding to future returns of units that may be several years old.


Looking for more? Read our recent blog "Have You Considered the RF Assembly Help You’ll Need Tomorrow?".


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