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How to Get a Replacement for Your Manufacturer Discontinued Product

By Cara Doswald

May 13, 2022

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If you've managed your network for a few years, I guarantee you know this frustration: You get your network monitoring system fully setup and configured, just to find out one of the monitored elements is no longer being manufactured or supported by a vendor. Now what do you do?

In a perfect world, units would always be supported whether they're still being manufactured or not. But, for most manufacturers, supporting legacy equipment for more than a few years is not the reality. Once a product is no longer being made, it's usually no longer being supported as well. This can be a huge pain and can get expensive quickly. You never want to be replacing older generations with newer ones every other year.

Wouldn't it be nice to buy and install a product that's perfectly designed for your network? Also, wouldn't it be nice to have a product designed to last for years. Think of the relief you would feel knowing you've invested in a product that would always be supported no matter what. Imagine free tech support with industry expert engineers, too. That's the dream...

DPS engineer examining the ADP PCB
Our DPS Engineer Bennie testing the NetGuardian ADP board before it's put into it's metal chassis.

...And the reality here at DPS. Our team can design and manufacture just about anything, and as long as the unit is still running, we'll provide support for it.

With supply chain issues rising more and more, customers like you, are coming to us with one particular problem. You might an improved replica of a product that's a critical component to your already established network, but is no longer being supported.

DPS has a factory and engineering team that can build you a replacement product

Because we're vertically integrated, each piece every product is hand-built at our headquarters. That makes product development that much faster and robust.

The first step in developing a new product based on another company's existing product is research and development. For example, a transportation company recently asked for us to design a unit equivalent to their audio/PTT distribution panel. We were able to get our hands on an existing unit, which was ideal and always helps (but don't worry it's not required).

The design of any new product starts with our ECAD department extensively researching the existing product to learn the features and applications. They take apart the unit (physically or by reviewing the spec) and get down to the component level.

They'll then begin the PCB design layout, test components to ensure their functionality, and analyze the placement of each piece at the board level.

While developing the ADP, one of our engineers had to deconstruct the audio/PTT distribution panel to see what the unit did and didn't do. He had to reverse-engineer the product to design the schematic for the PCB. He hand-drew the components he could see on the board onto a piece of paper. Looking at some components with a magnifying glass, he determined what each element was - and what else that component was connected to. He then researched each component to make sure he had identified it properly. It was a lot of work, but necessary for development.

At this stage in the process, our Engineering department will begin programming both the back-end and front-end necessary for the functionality and user interface of the product.

During this design stage, our Engineering and ECAD team will work closely together to produce a working prototype as quickly as possible. They'll cycle through multiple iterations rapidly by analyzing the design and functionality at every stage of development.

Components are mechanically inserted for speed and accuracy
Some components are mechanically inserted for speed and accuracy. While others are hand soldered

The final step in the design phase involves our ECAD team. They'll design the metal chassis that will enclose the unit once it's completed.

Using the PCB layout our ECAD department provided, the manufacturing team will get started developing the product. Most of our manufacturing team has been with us for over 10 years, so building and testing new equipment is second-nature to them. This ensures your fully customized product is being built to the highest industry standards.

Across the street at our Metal Shop, the team will cut, bend, attach hardware, and paint the metal chassis. Because we cut our metal in-house, we can match the look of the MFD product. If you prefer, you can request exact dimensions for the enclosure and a specific silk screen color.

DPS Metal Shop employees
Our Metal Shop is conveniently right across the street from our main building.

Vigorous testing ensures that even a new product is going to work

Once everything has been built, we vigorously test the unit for more than 24 hours. We try to break it by power cycling it repeatedly throughout the night. We also do isolated hardware and software tests to make certain the unit is functioning properly.

For new product platforms, we prefer to do a field trial with you. This will give us an opportunity to get your feedback and implement any modifications while we're on site with you.

Field trials usually are a bit rocky in the beginning of the week. We're hooking the unit up for the first time and using it in a real-world environment. We learn the various ways that our best-guess design just doesn't cut it. This always hurts a little, but that's exactly why we do a field trial in the first place. The rest of the week, we'll work with you to get the all new unit's kinks worked out. This leaves you with a perfect-fit solution.

Being a part of the development process gives you the opportunity to get exactly what you want out of your customized monitoring solution. Your wish-list unit becomes a reality.

Our CEO, Bob Berry, says it best: "The key to getting the most value out of DPS is to make us part of your design team. This ensures you get a perfect-fit solution that solves your exact problem."

Because we want you to come back to DPS again and again, we also have a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you have any issues, our tech support team is here to help you over the phone any time of the day.

Give DPS a call to start today!

Give our sales department a call to start today. We'll start designing your custom unit right now. We just need a few pieces of information to get started:

  • The device manufacturer and model number (ex.: "Eltek Smartpack2")
  • Documentation: User manual, spec sheets, and other information. This is not always publicly accessible unless you are the end user of the equipment
  • Supported protocols: Newer equipment typically support at least one protocol for communications. The most popular is SNMP, but there are many others, such as Modbus, DNP3, HTTP, etc.
  • Protocol-specific files:
    • For SNMP, include any MIBs related to the device (MIBs are typically separate files from user manual)
    • For Modbus, include files that list registers or function codes supported by the device (Usually in the user manual)
    • For DNP3, include the supported poll types and bitmaps (Usually in the user manual)
    • For HTTP/HTTPS, include API information and URLs
    • For ASCII, include connection type (TCP/UDP) and commands
    • For devices that have non-standard protocols, contact us about developing a custom handler

If you're unfamiliar with these terms, don't worry. All you need to do when you call DPS is tell us what you're trying to accomplish. Let's make your monitoring dreams a reality today!

Give me a call at 559-454-1600 or email me at sales@dpstele.com

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Cara Doswald

Cara Doswald

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