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12 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2019 Feature by John Watson, CID BUILDING CONTROL SYSTEMS, LEGRAND INC. Most of us are familiar with the defense read- iness condition (DEFCON) levels. If we could apply such a DEFCON level to the electron- ics industry and how it relates to the issue of component shortages, we would be sitting at a DEFCON 1, meaning nuclear war is imminent. This issue has a huge effect on everyone who works in the electronics field, impact- ing schedules and how things are done. The problem began to hit in earnest about a year ago in 2017. It first appeared as longer lead times on multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) and tantalum capaci- tors. With longer lead times, the available stock began to disap- pear, and before we knew it, we had a perfect storm and an inter- national crisis. From where we stand now, at the beginning of 2019, we see lead times for some components in the short range of up to 16 weeks; medium- to-high is 32 weeks, and long lead times are as far out as 80 weeks. In other words, if we ordered a component today, it would arrive in over a year a half from now (maybe). This all started with the capacitors (we will see why later), but we now see other compo- nent series being sucked into this problem (Figure 1). With such volatility in the market, it has brought those who were not prepared for it to a standstill. The Electronic Component Shortage Crisis: A Veteran Engineer's Perspective Figure 1: Common parts in short supply, with typical lead times.

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