Get ahead in Obsolescence Management

Posted on 21 Oct 2015 by The Manufacturer

Cranfield University’s Philip Wardle explores industry’s changing approach to Obsolescence Management.

During the North Sea Oil Boom of the 1970’s the UK political and financial imperatives were to minimise the time between making the first massive investments in offshore facilities and establishing production, but this meant that some of the longer-term challenges such as obsolescence were not always the highest priority.

About the Author

Philip Wardle has 38 years-experience of delivering of large and complex engineering and software projects, mainly in the defence industry, but also in oil & gas, civil communications, and automotive sectors.

He has extensive experience in development of engineering governance, process, and capability and a proven track record in research at the interface between academia and industry.

Having collaborated with Cranfield University since 2005 while still in industry, in 2014 he joined the School of Aerospace, Transport, and Manufacturing as a Research Fellow.

As a result, the oil and gas sector has historically managed obsolescence in reactive mode, but times have changed: at $40 per barrel in August 2015, the price of West Texas Intermediate Crude is at its lowest level for six years, and a survey of 168 Oil & Gas companies shows that their combined debt is half a trillion dollars.

This new economic reality is changing mindsets: legacy offshore facilities are being operated beyond their original design life, responsibility for sustainment is increasingly outsourced to cut operating costs, and the sector’s residual budgets for R&D and new equipment is focused on extracting more output from existing offshore fields.

What is more, recent research by Cranfield University confirms similar trends towards lifecycle extension in other sectors, including nuclear power, civil aviation, rail transport and maritime.

All these factors are encouraging a move towards more proactive management of the problem; for example, there’s a need to be able to predict the economic viability at the end-of-life of an oil platform with more confidence, and a proactive approach supports this by reducing some of the uncertainties in continuity of production and costs of sustaining the equipment.

Cranfield’s Obsolescence Management Online course presents a unique opportunity for practitioners and managers to learn about the nature and impact of obsolescence and how to manage it to reduce its impact on system availability and through-life costs.

Delegates will be able to answer questions such as:

  • In what ways does obsolescence arise, and what are its root causes?
  • What capabilities are required to enable us to manage obsolescence?
  • How can risks and uncertainties of obsolescence be managed?
  • Is it possible to predict the costs of mitigation and resolution?
  • How does obsolescence drive problems with counterfeit parts?

Studying online

The course is ideal for those who wish to study part-time while in full-time employment; the level of commitment is four to five hours per week for six weeks.

During the course students will be mentored by an experienced engineering manager from industry and will finish with a project that is relevant to a current project or scenario in the workplace.

It can be delivered worldwide wherever students have internet access.

Discover more about Obsolescence Management at:

To enquire about availability, register an interest, or chat informally about the course, please call Desmond Fernandes on: +44 (0) 1234 754189  or email at [email protected].

In weeks one to five delegates typically spend three or four hours studying the course content at times to suit them, and perhaps another one or two hours preparing their responses to the weekly assignments.

Weekly videoconference meetings are arranged in which the course tutor is able to clarify and confirm any points arising from the course content and provide feedback on the assignments.

It is during these sessions that real added-value is created; the interactions between delegate and tutor often develop into something which looks more like consultancy than a regular teaching situation.