Do you have a plan for when your NI products reach the next phase of their life cycle? Back in April, we published a blog post about planning for test equipment obsolescence in 2022. As we get closer to the end of the year, we are looking ahead to see which parts from NI are soon to be obsolete, now including Last Orderable Dates slated for December 2022 and into 2023.
What Does Last Orderable Date Mean?
The “life cycle” of a NI product comes in 4 phases; active, mature, maintenance, and discontinued. When a product moves from active to mature, it signifies that the part is being phased out of production. This is usually when a suggested replacement part is released, as well as when the Last Time Buy Date / Last Orderable Date is announced. There are a couple of different factors to how long the mature phase lasts for an individual product.
There is often a final, one-year window of opportunity to purchase a product from NI once they decide to stop manufacturing it. Once the product enters the maintenance phase, it typically remains there for around five years from the last purchase date, based on the typical three-year warranty duration. In the maintenance phase, the part is only eligible for “reasonable effort” repair or calibration services from NI.
Parts Entering Obsolescence
This list may not be complete and is subject to additions.
Last Orderable Date of March 31, 2022 (03/31/22)
Last Orderable Date of June 30, 2022 (12/30/22)
Last Orderable Date of December 30, 2022 (12/30/22)
Last Orderable Date of March 31, 2023 (03/31/23)
Last Orderable Date of June 30, 2023 (06/30/23)
Last Orderable Date of December 30, 2023 (12/30/23)
Maturing products can cause issues when the life cycles of the test system and the products are out of sync. A test system that has test code which is closely connected with the test instrumentation is the most affected by incompatibilities between life cycles.
How can the impact of differing life cycles on a test system be mitigated? Both the test code and the test instrumentation must be able to be changed without impacting one another. Consider both the instrumentation and code as separate building blocks that assemble loosely to form this ideal configuration. Another block might readily take the place of a block that has failed or become obsolete. Similarly, the test system’s modularity can be improved by using loosely linked layers!
A technique that has proven to be effective for both creating and maintaining a loosely linked test system is to implement a user-defined Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). A HAL avoids tightly coupling test code with test instrumentation, and is better equipped to handle the inconsistencies between the life cycles for the product and the test instrumentation.
A HAL provides many effective features. It provides a separation between the code and the instrument, resulting in fewer weak points. When it comes to the API, a HAL unifies the interface for similar instruments and enables low effort introductions of additional instruments into the system. Multiple driver types are supported by a HAL, which takes the details from the code and abstracts them. A HAL also addresses the differences between different scales of data, accounts for the differences in timing and synchronization, adjusts for changes in data formation, checks for errors, simulates instruments, and can revalidate test systems via fault insertion.
When test code and test instrumentation are loosely coupled together, the overall architecture is enhanced by making the system easier to maintain and expand over time.