Series 7 Episode 8 – Design for Availability: How to tackle chip shortages

11th May 2022
Sam Holland

Charlotte Morgan talks with Richard Fletcher, Managing Director of electronics software design and software development consultancy Ignys, about his company's efforts to inform engineers and other members of the industry, particularly about what can be done to address the design demands that have arisen from chip shortages.

As a design and software consultancy, Ignys provides a number of resources online to members of the industry, and offers a particular focus on the component shortages. This concern is especially relevant, and Richard offers advice to such new businesses as follows:

"When you're a startup, you have some pretty graphs that you hope you might follow. But you don't really know how many you're going to be selling, or what your year one and year two figures look like. ... So you've got no revenue, yet you're trying to get hold of components for a forecast that you are uncertain about. ...

"The key bit here is to make sure that you're only designing in the features that you need: you're not putting extra devices on the board for the sake of it. ... You may well have to say 'version one offers just the core set of functionality'."

On top of this, Richard also explains the importance of product design reviews and schematics: "There's all manner of things that can go wrong ... in the design. Internally, the schematic should tell a story. ... It should give me an idea of how it's all working ... you want to pick it up in six months' time when you've done a whole lot of other jobs."

Considerations such as component supply levels and design planning and review processes are of course vital to engineers. But another important attribute in engineers, Richard, is simply the importance of loving what you do: "I think there's a bunch of the successful engineers that exists have engineering as a passion: it is mostly their hobby – which they get to do on a daily basis and get paid for – more than it is a thing that they do [in their workplace] and then leave at home".

For more information on the chip shortage, design considerations, and engineering itself, click here to listen to this podcast on Spotify; or click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.


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