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Fall 2010

Ops A La Carte LLC
(408) 654-0499
Fax: (408) 986-8154

Theme for this newsletter:
Effectively Outsourcing Product Development


EVENTS - SMTA, ASTR, ASQ, BIOMed, Ops Open House
SPECIAL OFFERS - One free registration to a seminar
NEWS - Presentations, New Consultant
FEATURED SERVICE - How to Effectively Outsource Product Development
RELIABILITY BLOG - Highlights of Last Quarter's Blogs
PROBLEM SOLVER - Define Product Realization Process?
JOB OPENINGS - Ops A La Carte, AB Sciex


Welcome to our 23rd quarterly newsletter. Our newsletter comes out the first week of March, June, September, and December. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Fall is here. That means the long summer break is over and conferences are back in full swing. Check out our events schedule for this fall. If you see that one of us is going to be in your area during one of these events, let us know if you would like for us to stop by and provide you with a free consultation.

We are also offering the most variety of courses this fall than we have ever offered. We start out with our Design for Excellence (DfX) Symposium in Austin TX October 11-15 in Austin, Texas. Then we move into our Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) courses to help students get ASQ certified in those areas.

Check out our new Google Calendar of Events. We wanted to make it easier for you to see what was going on in the world of reliability. All of the events are shown in more detail within the website. Our education courses are shown in more detail in our Education tab and our seminars and events are shown in more detail in our News Events tab.

And for the first time ever, we are offering our Product Realization Certification Program. We will cover 5 different areas of the product realization process from design to supply chain management. I will be teaching the section on Product Reliability, a key aspect to the product realization process.

Please watch our new two minute Ops A La Carte company overview video. Note that if the video loads slowly, you can try the YouTube version instead.


We just completed our remodel, adding more lab capacity and expanding our training facility to accommodate larger classes.

My book "50 Ways to Improve Your Product Reliability" is being sent to the publisher this month and should be out later this quarter. Check back for more details. For a sneak preview of the book, you can download the first two chapters at Reliability Book: 50 Ways - 1st_Two_Chapters.

We hope you enjoy the following newsletter. Our next newsletter will come out December 1st. Thank you for your continued support and interest.

- Mike Silverman, Managing Partner/CEO


Symposium: Design for Excellence (DfX) Symposium
Date: October 11-15, 2010
Location: Austin, TX
About Event: Ops A La Carte and DfR Solutions are teaming up to give this Design for Excellence (DfX) Symposium. We already gave this symposium earlier in the year in San Jose California.


Design for Reliability (DfR): Oct 11: Mike Silverman of Ops & Dr. Craig Hillman of DfR
Design for Environment (DfE): Oct 12 by Dr. Randy Schueller of DfR Solutions
Design  for Manufacturability (DfM): Oct 13 by Cheryl Tulkoff of DfR Solutions
Design for Testability (DfT): Oct 14 by Vaughan Carlson, Pres. of Value Engrafting
Software Design for Reliability (SDfR): Oct 15 morning by Bob Mueller of Ops A La Carte
Design for Warranty (DfW): Oct 15 afternoon by Bob Mueller of Ops A La Carte


Best Accelerated Life Tests: Oct 11-12 by Mike Silverman of Ops A La Carte
Root Cause Analysis (RCA): Oct 13-14: Greg Swartz of Ops & Dr. Craig Hillman of DfR
Design for Mechanical Reliability: Oct 15 by Dr. Kim Parnell of Ops A La Carte

Class Prices: Two day=$1195, One day=$695, half day=$395
Group Discounts: Every 5th registrant is FREE
Unemployed/Employees paying themselves=25% off
Full time students=50% off
All are available via webinar for a 25% discount.
Payment: PO, Check, or Credit Card in advance

For more info or to register, please Contact Us InfoSEMINARS

Course: Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) Preparation Course
Date(s): October 19 - November 30, 2010 (Tuesday nights)
Time: 6pm-10pm one night a week, 7 weeks
Instructor: Greg Swartz and Pat McMahon, Ops A La Carte
Length: 7 weeks
Cost: $1295
Location: San Jose, CA

(for those out of area, course is now offered via internet)

Description: The Certified Quality Engineer is a professional who understands the principles of product and service quality evaluation and control. This body of knowledge and applied technologies include, but are not limited to, development and operation of quality control systems, application and analysis of testing and inspection procedures, the ability to use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices, an understanding of human factors and motivation, facility with quality cost concepts and techniques, and the knowledge and ability to develop and administer management information systems and to audit quality systems for deficiency identification and correction.

We are offering this Exam Preparation Course. Students have found it very valuable in preparing for the exam. Even if you are not planning on taking the exam but need a good, in-depth course in Quality Engineering, this can benefit you substantially.

Course Webpage: CQE Course by Ops A La Carte

For more info or to register, please Contact Us Info

Course: Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) Preparation Course
Date(s): October 23 - November 13, 2010 (Saturdays)
Time: 9am-3:30pm, one day a week, 4 weeks
Instructor: Chandru Idnani, Ops A La Carte
Length: 4 weeks
Cost: $1095
Location: San Jose, CA

(for those out of area, course is now offered via internet)

Description: The Certified Quality Auditor is a professional who understands the standards and principles of auditing and the auditing techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating and reporting to determine a quality system’s adequacy and deficiencies. The Certified Quality Auditor analyzes all elements of a quality system and judges its degree of adherence to the criteria of industrial management and quality evaluation and control systems.

We are offering this Exam Preparation Course. Students have found it very valuable in preparing for the exam. Even if you are not planning on taking the exam but need a good, in-depth course in Quality Auditing, this can benefit you substantially.

For more info or to register, please Contact Us Info

Course: Product Realization Group Certification Program
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 to Thursday, January 13, 2011 (dates below)
Time: All classes are 6-8pm
Location: Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
About Event: Program consists of 5 subjects, one subject per month for 5 months, each subject is covered in 5 class sessions. The Product Realization Certificate Program provides an opportunity for individuals, group managers and senior management, who are involved in the development and release of high technology products, to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the product realization process.

PRC-01: Engineering Development Sept. 14, 16, 21 & 23 Mark Brinkerhoff & Walt Maclay
PRC-02: Product Reliability Oct. 19, 21, 26 & 28 Mike Silverman
PRC-03: Data Mgmt. & Collaboration Nov. 9, 11, 16 & 18 Michael Keer & Bob Daniel
PRC-04: Supply Chain Management Dec. 7, 9, 14 & 16 Michael Gozzo
PRC-05: Business Compliance Jan. 4, 6, 11 & 13 Tim Stein
Exam - Certificate Feb. 1 Michael Gozzo

For more info or to register, please Contact Us Info

For information on other course offerings go to: Ops A La Carte Schedule

All our courses are offered as in-house tailored seminars. To view a list of all our seminars, go to Ops A La Carte Course List



Event: Medical Product Validation Seminar
Date: Sept 22, 2010, 10am-2pm
Location: Silicon Valley's TechMart, Santa Clara, CA
About Event: This is part of SMP Tech's "Meet the Experts" series

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman will present on "Reliability Challenges in the Medical Industry"

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: SMTA Medical Electronics Symposium
Date: Sept 22-23, 2010
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
About Event: Experts from around the world will give various medical presentations. We will be giving one in the reliability track.

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman and PRG's Mike Keer will present on "Outsourcing Product Development to a Multidiscipline Team of Specialists: A Success Story"

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Accelerated Stress Testing and Reliability (ASTR) Workshop
Date: Oct 6-8, 2010
Location: Denver, CO
About Event: This is the only workshop specifically devoted to accelerated reliabilty testing. This is the 15th year for the event. Ops A La Carte is a sponsor and is on the program committee for the event. We will also be presenting the following topics:

Mike Silverman of Ops A La Carte will present: "What Is HALT and What Is Not HALT?"
Charlie Slayman of Ops A La Carte will present: "Acceleration Factors for Neutron Beam Soft Error Testing"
Martin Shaw of Ops A La Carte will present: "LCD Accelerated Testing - A Case Study"

Contact Us Info

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Austin Central Texas Electronics Association (CTEA) Expo and Tech Forum
Date: Oct 7, 2010
Location: Austin, TX
About Event: The Electronics Event for Hardware and Software Design, Assy, and Test Professionals.

Ops A La Carte's Bob Baker is a local officer of CTEA and is helping to coordinate this event. The event is also being sponsored by local chapters of SMTA and IMAPS.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: ASQ Quality Conference
Date: Oct 21-22, 2010
Location: Santa Clara, CA
About Event: Conference specifically focused on the topics of quality and reliability.

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman and PRG's Mike Keer will present on "Outsourcing Product Development to a Multidiscipline Team of Specialists: A Success Story"

Contact Us Info

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: BIOMedDevice Show
Date: Nov 10-11, 2010
Location: San Jose, CA
About Event: Run by the same group that runs the Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) event, but this BIOMed show is smaller and more focused around medical devices.

Ops A La Carte and two other Product Realization Group's partner's - Voler Systems and Fusion Design - will be teaming up, sharing a booth and delivering a joint presentation on how we successfully collaborate on projects together.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Ops A La Carte Open House - Medical Theme
Date: Nov 12, 2010
Location: Santa Clara, CA
About Event: For the second year in a row, we have decided to piggyback on the BIOMedDevice show and hold our open house the following day so that out of town guests can take advantage of this opportunity.

Ops A La Carte and the Product Realization Group will jointly sponsor this event at Ops A La Carte's headquarters in Santa Clara, CA. It will be very timely not only because of it following the BIOMed show but because we just completed our remodel at our facility, adding lab capacity as well as enlarging our training facility.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Product Realization Group Lunch and Learn Series
Date: Once a month - see below for dates for the rest of 2010
Location: National University, San Jose CA. Also available via webinar
About Event: Discussion topic followed by a lunch.

Bridging the Gap between Marketing and Product Development
Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 11:30am to 1:30pm (event details  | register  | free webinar signup)

How the PRG is helping companies bring new products to market – Case Study
Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 11:30am to 1:30pm (event details  | register  | free webinar signup)

Optimizing the Global Supply Chain (last mile)
Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 11:30am to 1:30pm (event details  | register  | free webinar signup)

Building Quality into the Product Realization Process
Thursday, December 09, 2010 - 11:29am to 1:29pm (event details  | register  | free webinar signup)

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: IEEE Reliability Society Santa Clara monthly talk series
Dates: See below for upcoming events
Location: HP Cupertino CA Oak Room
About Event: We hold meetings once a month, last Wednesday of the month from 7-9pm. Ops A La Carte's managing partner Mike Silverman is Chair of the society chapter and Ops A La Carte's Fred Schenkelberg is Vice Chair.

Sept 29, 2010: Application of Accelerated Test Methods for CPV Systems, by Mark Spencer, SolFocus

Oct 27, 2010: HCPV Tracker Accelerated Reliability Tests, by Jon Elerath, SolFocus

For more info, please Contact Us Info

SPECIAL OFFERS We are offering FREE Product Assessments. Two to three senior partners of the Product Realization Group will assess your product realization process and provide you with a feedback on your strengths as well as your opportunities for improvement. This is based on our experience working with hundreds of different companies.

Email us via our Special Offers Contact Form



All presentations that we gave can be found on the technical download section of our website at Technical Papers.

September 1, 2010

Ops adds a new consultant to our company:

Stephen Haytt, PhD, CRE, CQE (San Jose, CA) has 15 years of experience between Manufacturing, New Product Introduction, and Development. All his degrees and background are in materials science and engineering, encompassing solid states physics, mechanics of materials, fatigue and fracture, metallurgy, corrosion of metals, ceramics, glass, and fiber optics, and plasma processing of materials - as in the deposition and etching of materials. Mr. Hyatt earned his doctorate degree from the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada). Mr. Hyatt has extensive experience working with materials characterization techniques, as the different methods for electron excitation and analysis of the resulting spectrographs, transmission electron microscopy used for high spatial resolution materials analysis, and x-rays topography using synchrotron radiation. Stephen is a CRE and CQE. See the Ops Team for more details.

Also, two Ops consultants have relocated. Gerry Cohen moved from Los Angeles to South Carolina and Edward Smith moved from San Jose to Pennsylvania. Both consultants will begin servicing our clients in their new local areas.

August 20, 2010

Product Realization Group Symposium / Summer Barbeque

The symposium comprised of 4 sessions in 2 tracks - CleanTech, MedTech, NPI, and PRG Certification Overview.

We presented a paper on CleanTech Reliability

Attached also is the slide set describing the PRG Certification Course

Here are a few pictures from the event. Left is John Cooper of Ops A La Carte presenting on the PRG Certificate program. In the center is the Ops booth at the event. On the right is the tasty BBQ area.

August 17, 2010

Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) Class Started

On Tuesday, August 17th, we began our 7 week CRE training class to help individuals pass the CRE Exam, sponsored by ASQ and IEEE. This was the largest class we have had in over 4 years. About 2/3 of the students are taking the class via webconference and the other 1/3 are attending live. We added a second instructor for the course. The head instructor provides instruction for all the students and also works with the live students on problem solving. The second instructor monitors for questions from the on-line students and works with them on problem solving.

August 1, 2010

Ops A La Carte Web Video

We completed a two minute video of our company, including our consulting, testing, and training options. The video link is in the "Message from the CEO" section of this newsletter as well as on the main page of our site.

July 14, 2010

ASQ Statistics Society talk on Reliability

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman was a panelist for the discussion topic on "Trends in Reliability". Also on the panel was Dr. Dave Trindade and Reza Azarkhail. Dr. John Flaig was the moderator.

July 7, 2010

In memory of Gregg Hobbs

Dr. Gregg Hobbs was truly an amazing man - an inventor, a mentor to thousands. He is credited for coining the terms HALT and HASS back in 1988 and since then has evangelized around the world and made HALT and HASS common terms in the world of engineering. Gregg was also a personal friend to Ops A La Carte founder Mike Silverman. Gregg and Mike gave joint seminars around the world together. Gregg passed away on July 7th and the industry will truly miss his ingenuity and his spirit.

June 15, 2010

Applied Reliability Symposium talk

We presented a paper on: From HALT Results To An Accurate Field MTBF Estimate

We also exhibited at this event. See picture below and left. Present were (left to right) Jim McLinn, Mike Silverman, and Doug Farel. Also, congratulations to Taeho Crispin, the winner of our "closest to the pin" putting contest with a putt 3" from the pin. See picture below and right.

June 8, 2010

Green Technology Reliability Seminar

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman gave a presentation along with several industry speakers, including Paul Parker from Solar Bridge and Nathan Reddy from Polycom. Event was sponsored by Ops A La Carte, DLI Labs, and DfR Solutions.

To view the slides for the event, go to: Green Reliability Seminar

To view the webinar stream, go to: Green Reliability Webinar Recording

June 4, 2010

Software Reliability Seminar

Ops A La Carte's Bob Mueller and Voler System's Walt Maclay gave a 2 hour presentation on Software Reliability.

To view the slides for the event, go to: Software Reliability Seminar

To view the webinar stream, go to: Software Reliability Webinar Recording (passcode: "swquality")

For more information on news, please visit our News Page or call (408) 654-0499.

Outsourcing Product Development to a
Multidiscipline Team of Specialists:
The AlterG Case Study
Authors: Mike Silverman, Managing Partner of Ops A La Carte, Walt Maclay, President of Voler Systems, and Mark Brinkeroff, President of Fusion Design, all members of the Product Realization Group (PRG), and Mike Keer, President of the PRG.

Background: AlterG, Inc. is pioneering a market using innovative technologies to sustain a healthy and active life. AlterG is reinventing rehabilitation by advancing recovery from injury, surgery or disability and enhancing performance as well as reducing the frequency of injury in athletics and sports.

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill® is the first FDA-cleared medical device of its kind and is used by major medical centers, leading physical therapy clinics and professional, collegiate, and individuals.

AlterG is transitioning from a low volume/high cost outsourced product to a high volume/lower cost in-house built product.

AlterG engaged with the Product Realization Group, Inc. (PRG) to provide a 360 degree review of their product and processes to ensure that they could effectively and reliably scale to volume.

Client Need: Mitigate design, production, and quality risks to meet rapidly growing sales.

Support: Product design analysis and recommendations using outsourced mechanical, electrical, reliability, and operations resources.

Lack of Technical Expertise: Internal resources often lack sufficient or appropriate technical expertise to support projects.

Resource Availability: Internal resources are not always available in the timeframe required to meet project goals.

Project Management and Integration: Internal resources have limited bandwidth to manage multiple outside partners effectively.


Product Transformation: The product on the left was their first commercial product targeted at professional athletes using mostly outsourced manufacturing. The product on the right is a product they want to take to volume production targeted at the rehabilitation industry using a combination of in-house and outsourced manufacturing. The goal is to increase the quality/reliability, reduce manufacturing time, and reduce the cost.


The team consisted of a Project Lead along with a lead in the areas shown below. We determined that this was the best cross-functional team needed to perform this analysis. The team deployed depends on the outcome of the inital project assessment.


Technical Expertise: Each outsourced partner had 20+ years of experience in area of focus.

Product Review: Full breakdown and re-assembly of the product plus detailed review of AlterG’s manufacturing and test processes.

Analysis: We identified and ranked 117 issues in 7 critical categories - reliability, quality, installation, service, manufacturability, aesthetics, and cost using Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) methodology.

FMEA Categories and Rankings

FMEA- Preliminary Findings (sample)


Each discipline worked with Alter-G's counterpart and then we collaborated to develop and prioritize our findings.


We then developed a report of all the findings, quantifying our results and offering advice on corrective actions as appropriate.


Short Term: Leverage product knowledge gained and partner capabilities to implement changes identified not supported internally.

Long Term: Leverage company knowledge and relationships gained to provide technical expertise for future iterations of product and new product releases.


The diagram below shows our integrated model and how we worked as an outsourced partner with AlterG to help them with their product development.

The original team consisted of 4 different disciplines within the PRG. Based on the results of the correction actions and the new product development needs, we may pull in other resources from the PRG, as needed, to support AlterG. Below is a diagram of some of the other disciplines we may call upon.


Improved Product Quality: By implementing key FMEA findings, AlterG improves product quality and reduced potential for field failures.

Partner Integration: By working with a group of integrated partners, AlterG reduces the risks of managing multiple unknown partners.

Return on Investment (ROI): By augmenting internal resources, AlterG is able to focus on core competencies and gain a higher ROI than with dedicated internal resources.

For more information on this topic, we will give a presentation at the SMTA Medical Electronics Symposium on Sept 23rd and at the ASQ Quality Conference on Oct 22nd. Both presentations will be available for download after the conference has ended.

Mention this article and receive $1K off your next PRG service.

Below is a summary of the Best of our Blog for last quarter - highlights of the best blog topics we had. If you would like to contribute to our blog, please either

Contact Us Info or go to


There is a lot of talk these days about the product realization process. But what does it really mean?

There is a linked-in group with this title as well as blogs and forums on the topic. Ops A La Carte is a partner company in the Product Realization Group (PRG), a coalition of consulting firms with the goal of providing services to cover the entire product realization process. Therefore, we believe we have a good amount of expertize in this area. However, each industry operates slightly differently and different companies have different methods that work for them. Therefore, we'd like to hear from you on your approach to product realization.

In your own words, please define what the Product Realization Process means to you and your company?

The best response within the next 5 days will receive one free product realization process assessment or a free seat in our upcoming Product Realization Group Certification Program starting September 14th.

High Technology OEM’s face significant increases in global competition, time to market pressures, and technological complexities, which result in higher risks for bringing new products to market. These risks drive the need for greater use of outsourced services.

To reduce these risks, the PRG has developed a “one-stop-shop” of outsourced services that helps companies to bring new products to market. Engagements are tailored to business and product profiles, and partners work together to deliver services that range from initial concept through global logistics and repair.

Your Benefits

  • Our integrated solutions will save you time, streamlining bringing your product to market.
  • Our proven partnerships will eliminate guesswork and prevent breakdowns in communication.
  • Our partners will educate you on current best practices.

Product Realization Group | | |

PV Evolution Labs provides state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and PV testing expertise to the growing PV module industry and certification agencies. They are solely focused on flat panel PV testing. The execute all steps of the testing process flow with utmost quality, care, and customer confidentiality. Ops A La Carte partners with PV Evolution Labs by providing reliability consulting services for PVEL's customers, including On-going Reliability Test (ORT) plans, On-going Destructive Test (ODT) plans, Lot Acceptance Test plans (LAT), and Reliability Demonstration Test (RDT) plans.

PV Evolution Labs | | +1.415-335-9710.

Given the current economic climate, we know of many talented individuals that are currently looking for work. Therefore, if you are an employer and have a need for any position within reliability, engineering, or operations, we are offering to advertise in our newsletter at no cost. Just doing our part to help stimulate the economy! Below are a few positions that we do know about.

Senior Reliability Consultant

Ops A La Carte is looking for Senior Reliability Consultants around the world to join our team of consultants and work on some of the most exciting and challenging projects in the industry. Whether you have an existing consulting practice or are interested in developing one, please contact us.

If interested, email us via our OPS Job Search Contact Form or call (408) 654-0499.

Reliability Engineer

Position is for their Toronto office. Email Terri Simpler Job AB 000222.


Ops A La Carte's newsletter goes out to over 18,000 subscribers. If you would like to put an ad or job opening in next quarter's "Reliability News", fill out our Job Openings Form or call at (408) 654-0499.

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