Under the Radar : MANAGING THE DYNAMICS OF TECHNOLOGY OBSOLESCENCE IN THE NIGERIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Obsolescence is most prevalent is electronic technology where smart systems have taken over the brain of systems and equipment configurations, This has given rise to technology obsolescence  or planned obsolescence or functional obsolescence or a combination of the three as the case may be.

Basically the procurement life span for micro-electronic components that constitutes the core of IT infrastructure, as we know it, is often significantly shorter than the life-support cycle for the product. Putting it a little differently; the economic life of micro-electronic components is shorter than the physical life of the entire equipment.

I bought a Techno brand with three Sim-Card slots at an affordable price. This curtailed the monkey-business of juggling three separate cell-phones especially when they ring simultaneously. After six months the spare batteries swelled-up and couldn’t store electrical charges any longer. Then one year later the regular battery inside the cell-phone also ceased storing electrical charges too. I tried everyway to find a replacement without success. I dumped that Techno brand for another better and more sophisticated brand. So when a micro-switch or microprocessor be it a Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) or Large Scale Integration (LSI) or Medium Scale Integration (MSI), develops a fault, the entire system shuts down and in most cases stay so with an increasing downtime. Obsolescence gradually sets in with time because the manufacturer has redesigned and modernized the assembly plant and moved-on in favor of new product improvement requirements causing many aspects of the company operational processes to be are seriously affected. With time spares for the repair and maintenance cannot be sourced principally due obsolescence.

To worsen the already pathetic situation, manufacturers driven by rapid technological changes, develop new components and equipment/devices without warning and launch them into the market at the speed of lightning. Sale agents and business development experts follow suit with aggressive marketing that triggers patronage from service providers, consumers and other end-users of the equipment/device/systems. The increase in the rate of change of technology has in all cases resulted in a dramatic change in both the physical complexities and operational characteristics of new products/equipment which organization rely on heavily for the production of goods and services. Occasionally decision makers are at sea on the next line of action especially when resources are scarce. A huge proportion of decision makers are facing volatile and fast changing operational environment brought about by changes in technology and are having a hard time dealing with these changes. They are caught in the middle of a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives:

  1. To replace out-rightly the old and unserviceable technology, that has become inefficient and physically deteriorated with a new technology in the midst of dwindling revenue profile. Or
  2. To retain the old but serviceable technology except where prohibitive maintenance and repair costs has significantly rendered it unfit for the attainment of new output forecasts for the succeeding years.

The problem of deciding whether to keep a piece of equipment currently used in the production of goods and services or to replace it with a more advanced technology is one of the most important strategic decisions facing manufacturers and service providers in the aviation industry.  What are the operational industry indicators that should prompt strategic decisions to be taken and what are the defining issues that must be addressed by decision makers to remain relevant and competitive in aviation and allied business.

I make bold to say that it is the responsibility of decision makers to articulate functional replacement policy framework that are strategic to their operations. They are to plan, organize, process, evaluate, and implement such policy frame work

 CLASSIFICATION OF OBSOLESCENCE

The overwhelming access to mobile and web applications in the work place lays credence to the argument that there is a rapid increase in the rate of change of technology and that no one can predict with precision what the technology landscape would be. Accessibility of information and data is helping to erase a lot of ignorance and recalibrate confused mind-sets on the happenings in the world of obsolescence.

I stated earlier that obsolescence extends beyond micro-electronics components of equipment, devices and systems that make equipment fall apart and discarded, to other items such as specifications, parameters, standards, rules, regulations, production processes, organizational processes, management strategies, theories, concepts etc. Based on this statement and the research conducted on the subject matter, I will attempt to classify obsolescence as follows.

  1. Technology Obsolescence
  2. Functional Obsolescence
  3. Planned Obsolescence
  4. Style Obsolescence
  5. Management Obsolescence
  6. Manpower Obsolescence
  7. Postponement Obsolescence
  8. Strategic Obsolescence
  9. Obsolescence Opportunity
  10. Organizational Obsolescence

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