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I recently got an email from a long-time DPS client. This is a large equipment manufacturer that builds large-scale systems for government and military customers. As a result, they're necessarily concerned about the ongoing availability of every piece of gear in their supply chain.
Consider the disruption when a component of your product, whether you sell it or use it yourself, is suddenly unavailable:
One of my clients had a long list of questions about a particular DPS NetGuardian.
As a result of this fully justified due-diligence, I got the following request via email:
Regarding NETGUARDIAN 864A G5 ALARM MONITORING DEVICE by Digital Prototype Systems, Inc.: D-PK-NG864-12051.00001 or D-PK-NG864-12051.00002
Now, that first part may not technically qualify as a question, but I had something important to say here:
"...00002" is the current revision. Increments in the last digits of our part numbers indicate a performance revision that does not affect form/fit/function.
Truthfully, this notation sometimes causes headaches for DPS clients who are (justifiably) nervous about any change in part number. They don't want to get stuck with something that is not compatible with their existing system.
That's why I was so quick to point out the nature of this part number change. The number at the end helps us track performance revisions for things like improved EMI resilience, but it will never affect the normal function of the product.
Are any of the above parts still being manufactured? If not, can they be re-manufactured without Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) costs?
Yes. These NetGuardians are still manufactured.
Oh, my poor, poor clients. They've gotten burned before by other manufacturers who abruptly stop manufacturing something, then charge extra for those with the guts to ask for more units later.
At DPS, we maintain control over every aspect of production. Yes, there are cheaper ways to make a technology product. For our clients who want to standardize on something and buy it for perhaps 15 years or more, however, this eliminates all avoidable sources of unavailability.
If one of our circuit-level components is no longer available, we find an alternate. If a processor platform changes, we design a new device that, unless practically impossible, is pin-compatible with the old device.
Whenever possible, we avoid NRE fees. Generally, any RTU order of 11 or more units is sufficient to avoid an NRE.
If these parts are still available, how many do you have? We may want to purchase all of them. Is there a known date for end-of-life or end-of-service? What is the minimum order quantity (MOQ) and lead time?
All parts built to order. We can still source the needed components to manufacture more. If you would like to purchase and stockpile, we can build them.
This question reflects the usual expectation that manufacturers keep stockpiles of product inventory on their shelves of finished goods. DPS doesn't operate that way, instead remaining very lean.
Because we custom tailor each RTU, there are simply too many to effectively. If we wanted to keep even 10 units of our flagship NetGuardian 832A on the shelf, we'd have to multiply that by several hundreds different combinations of build options.
If you call me up on a Wednesday expecting to receive an RTU by Friday, we might have some issues (we do pull from our limited inventory stock when it's possible). If you give me a few weeks of notice, I can build you any reasonable quantity of any build options you like.
Is there a warranty that goes with any of these parts? If so, what is the cost?
Standard 2-year hardware warranty. Annual extensions available for a percentage of the covered unit's list price.
Our 2-year hardware warranty is generally plenty for most applications, but some clients with specific budget availability choose to prepay and guarantee that all covered repairs will be free for a longer period.
Is there a Certificate of Volatility (CoV) for any of the parts?
I do not have one readily available, but could likely produce one if needed. Potentially sensitive non-volatile stored information includes: Device configuration, alarm descriptions, limited alarm/sensor histories of a few thousand logged events.
I did a web search for "Certificate of Volatility", since this perhaps could have related to explosives and chemicals in a military project.
As you can see, it's actually about data security: After a device is decommissioned, what data remains that could be a security risk?
If they cannot be re-manufactured, are there suitable Form, Fit, and Function Replacements for any of these parts?
A G6 model will be released, likely in Q1/Q2 2022. The G5 will remain available for the foreseeable future, just as the G4 has remained available for those DPS clients who focus on strict standardization.
While some salespeople might choose to conceal an impending product release to sell more of the current model, I focus more on long-term satisfaction. I'm going to have to sell something in 6 months, too, and a newer install base tends to make tech support easier for everyone.
I also used my answer to this question as an opportunity to mentioned the G4 model. Its continued (limited by parts) availability after 12 years of the G5 model is the best possible example of the DPS philosophy.
Do you know of any other vendors or authorized distributors that may have this part?
DPS is the manufacturer and primary vendor of NetGuardian RTUs. Perhaps 10% of our sales are via distributors, like Graybar and Anixter.
This is another thing that really surprises people not familiar with DPS. We sell 90% direct, and we only usually involve a reseller or distributor when it helps you with logistics, ordering, or highly specific after-sales service.
For the majority of DPS clients, speaking with us on the phone, reviewing a detailed PDF proposal with application diagrams, installing with the included documentation (or purchasing a DPS visit for assisted turn-up), and using our free technical support (staffed by our engineers at HQ) is plenty.
Would it be possible to get a quote for these parts?
Yes. Do you have a quote quantity in mind?
This last one is music to the ears of any salesperson. I supplied the requested quote. This was a budgetary proposal perhaps not needing extensive technical documents, but I always include them as a helpful reference for anyone else who may review it later. If you just want the price page, it's right there waiting for you.
DPS NetGuardians are built with components, and we cannot change the laws of physics or force our suppliers to continue providing those parts. We do everything that is within our power to engineer around these sorts of problems to ensure you can continue buying the DPS products you've chosen. We make new and better products, but we never shove the old model into the trash heap if it's an important part of your business.
To speak with me about this further, just give me a call at 559-454-1600 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.