The Obsolescence of Electronic Components: A Threat to the Availability of Rail Vehicles?

This paper describes how microelectronics have become a vital component of rail vehicles, without which many key functions would no longer operate. While this heavy reliance has improved the overall functionality and cost-efficiency of rail vehicle systems, it has also led to the growing problem of obsolescence, and poses a threat to the availability of fleets. A fundamental conflict between the long life cycles of vehicles and the ever-shorter life cycles of electronic components is forcing the transportation industry to come up with cost-efficient solutions to this problem. This paper examines the way Bombardier Transportation has gone about tackling this issue by means of a comprehensive obsolescence management system. Bombardier’s successful approach uses a broad variety of coordinated, standardized measures, starting at the product planning and development stage, and running through procurement and manufacture to after-sales service. The measures taken by Bombardier fall into four categories: (1) product planning & development rules; (2) health monitoring and prediction; (3) joint supplier/operator strategies; and (4) active involvement in unified interest groups. Thanks to its proactive approach, close collaboration with operators in planning for obsolescence, and active involvement in interest groups which aim to coordinate and promote best obsolescence management practice (such as the Component Obsolescence Group in Europe), Bombardier is able to ensure the availability of its customers’ fleets throughout the vehicle life cycle, at affordable terms. This paper draw parallels between Bombardier’s experience with the issue of obsolescence and the problems faced not just by the transportation sector, but by industry as a whole. It concludes that the problem of obsolescence cannot be tackled by manufacturers or operators on their own, but must be addressed by interest groups committed to gathering information and promoting best practice on an ongoing basis.

  • Availability:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Paper and full conference proceedings are available on CD-ROM but the paper was not presented at the conference.
  • Corporate Authors:

    American Public Transportation Association

    1666 K Street, NW, Suite 1100
    Washington, DC  United States  20006
  • Authors:
    • Blum, Detlef
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 2005


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures;
  • Pagination: 6p
  • Monograph Title: Rail Transit Conference Proceedings, 2005

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01002172
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 1931594155
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 14 2005 4:40PM