The Dangers of Compromising on Electronic Component Storage

By Logan Wamsley

An equipment manufacturer can easily be judged based on how they store their critical electronic inventory. Not all manufacturers have an inherent need to store electronics, but those that do take on the added responsibility of ensuring that they work in accordance with the expectations of the engineers, as well as the consumers the company depends on. This responsibility is not one to be taken lightly, and must be considered with just as much care and attention as any other aspect of a company’s production strategy.

Such a responsibility holds true regardless of the length of the electronic product’s lifecycle. Whether it is three years, 10 years, or even over 20 years, equal care should be made to protect the critical electronic components from any form of disruption that may compromise their integrity.

What kind of disruption largely depends on both the sensitivity of the inventory in question and the location of the inventory; inventory susceptible to electromagnetic interference, for example, is under extreme risk if it happens to be located in an area prone to lightning strikes. Alternatively, components that degrade under unacceptable humidity levels will not survive long-term storage in generic warehouses located in extreme climates.

But electronic components, even those that are assembled into the same product, are not created equally. What may be ideal storage specifications for one component may not be suitable for the other, which means storage specialization for a budget-conscious OEM risks favoring one component’s specifications over another.

In an ideal world, there would be no compromise; every electronic component and semiconductor would be subject to only the storage specifications of the single most sensitive one. OEMs, unfortunately, still recovering from an electronic component shortage that saw on-hand working capital needed for infrastructure investments at historically low levels, do not live in that world, and instead strive to find a kind-of middle ground that, if not ideal, is “good enough” to house their inventory for as long as needed but no longer. The result, of course, is a higher rate of product failures and recalls that not only threatens to swallow up the very capital they strove to save, but threatens the integrity of their brand. Consumer goodwill can take decades to create, but can be destroyed in an instant if taken for granted.

Luckily, for OEMs who wish to have a secure supply chain without compromise, there exists supply chain partners like Partstat who offer solutions to manage all aspects of a product’s lifecycle, including long-term storage. For example, Partstat gives customers full access to the supply chain industry’s only custom storage vault uniquely designed for electronic components and semiconductors. To protect against all forms of potential disruption, we have equipped our vault with features including:

• Fire Rated Class 350 Certification capable of withstanding temperatures well above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for over five hours.

• A unique structural steel design that offers three times the strength of a normal building.

• A clean agent fire suppression system that automatically triggers a chemical suppression system that protects electronic components.

• Magnetic shielding to protect against magnetic interference, which can include anything from a common power surge to a lightning strike.

• A 1,100 lb. vault door.

Additionally, our vault also offers full protection for raw die and wafer used to assemble ASICs. Our specially designed desiccant dry cabinets not only maintain relative humidity levels below an astounding 0.5 percent, but their rapid three minute recovery time allows our trained handlers to access the inventory as often as 12 times per hour. As die and wafer banking becomes increasingly prominent in the industry, there is no room for OEMs to compromise on the processes used to store them.

In fact, this line of thinking holds true for all forms of electronic component storage. There is no room for compromise when the integrity of an OEM product is at stake, especially as the market continues to grow more competitive with each passing year. If your long-term storage strategy does not provide equal guaranteed protection of your inventory, it might be time to consider the aid of a supply chain partner like Partstat.