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L3Harris mines old electronics to overcome electronics shortages – while Japan harvests old tech for metals

Oct 3, 2022

According to Defense News, L3Harris Technologies says it bought back and cannibalised its own radios to meet customer demands amid shortages of electronic components.

The company and others across multiple sectors have been hampered by a semiconductor shortage that stretches back nearly two years. Industry executives said they expect supply chain challenges to last longer than originally anticipated and that the chip shortage will drag into mid-2023 or beyond — potentially forcing businesses to get creative.

It’s reported that L3Harris CFO, Michelle Turner, said a “big-name chip supplier” she did not identify wasn’t able to meet her firm’s demand heading into the fiscal quarter that began in July. That forced the company to find field-programmable gate arrays from an unusual source. “We took those radios back, we broke them down. We’re using the [field-programmable gate arrays] within those radios to rebuild them into the current formation.”

Meanwhile, in Japan, a new “urban mining” campaign aims to extract valuable metals from used smart phones, televisions and computers. The goal is to reduce Japan’s dependence on foreign suppliers and shaky supply chains, according to Germany’s DW news site.

The Environment Ministry announced in late August that it is aiming to double the amount of metals recovered from electronic devices by 2030 and for the resources to be recycled and reused in everything from state-of-the-art electric vehicles to computers and smartphones.   

“A decade ago, discarded electronics was not seen as being very valuable or a resource that that needed to be exploited, simply because the price of the metals that they contained was relatively low,” said Kohmei Harada, director of the Sustainability Design Institute and a former director at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science.

DW says there’s a goldmine waiting in the trash. “Discarded mobile phones and television sets, computer motherboards and refrigerators, microwave ovens, car components and countless other household items contain varying amounts of gold and silver, lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper and zinc. They provide key components of batteries and high-tech electronics and can be reused if processed properly.” 

To avoid electronics supply-chain disruptions, you may also wish to consult an expert in electronics component supply. With more than three decades of supply-chain expertise, Astute Electronics is ideally placed to work with you on your daily component requirements.

For more help with looking at supply chain options, contact Astute Electronics