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Happy Holidays from OPS!

(winter 2008 -2009)

Fall was busy for us with our annual Open House, paper presentations at ASTR (Portland), IPC (Santa Clara), and ARS (Singapore), and addition of 7 new consultants. We introduced a new service, Expert Review, in which an expert will review, give feedback on, and certify plans which have been independently created by a supplier. Reviews can be per review or on a monthly basis.

Quality Risks in Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a growing trend in today's marketplace. Designs go to Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs); manufacturing goes to Contract Manufacturers (CMs). When we outsource design and manufacture, we also outsource quality. You can control quality while outsourcing.

Design and quality control:

Many techniques exist for design analysis and design testing. So, how to choose which techniques to use? Allowing the ODM to choose the design analysis technique is only prudent if the technique is specifically chosen for the project at hand. Otherwise, the ODM could act on habit and use techniques initially chosen for other projects/customers but inappropriate here. A reliability plan for the project at hand ensures correct technique. For design testing, the ODM must know how to write a test plan based on the design analysis results. Dictating a design analysis technique and providing a test plan presents a danger. If the ODM lacks training in that technique, then reports won't improve reliability and are unlikely to contribute to improved design.

Manufacturing and quality control:

When one does not own process or equipment, visibility into manufacturing is a concern. It is difficult to characterize inherent failure rate of a production line (process capabilities) or identify factors contributing to loss. Failures can come from production equipment or personnel. The distance of overseas facilities contributes to problems with getting information about problems; discovering problems only after a product has shipped, inventory control difficulties, difficulty quarantining flawed parts/boards, and a time lag in analyzing flaws.

The goal is quick and accurate data reporting and analysis. Often, first pass yield data comes in after material has shipped. Failures must be shipped to the engineers. Shipping burns time during which it isn't clear to quarantine or not. Reworks of a board, false failures, intermittent failures, or no fault found are especially problematic.

Good communication with the CM is essential to the manufacturing screening process. Failures in HASS can signal process shifts. Screening profiles can be tweaked to optimize, and usually must be re-proved after a design change.

It is essential to closely monitor field results and tweak processes to continually improve them. Changing the testing process for better coverage can remedy test escapes. Inspection can remedy production generated failures. Correlating field failures is important in addressing intermittent failures to determine whether they are test escapes or come from the production line.

It is essential to correlate effects of change and walk the processes often. CMs can make changes on the fly or do things slightly different from plans. Taking an active role and building a trust relationship with suppliers may be more expensive at first, but will pay off through more efficient process and long term savings.

Special Offer: Our Expert Review service employs consultants in Asia and Europe who can work directly with your ODM or CM to improve reliability. Mention this article and receive $1K off your next Expert Review.

May 8th, 9am-12pm PST, join us for a free seminar on Green Reliability (also via webinar). We will discuss current trends and concerns in this rapidly expanding market.

OPS 2009 Reliability Symposium - April 6-10, 2009 - San Jose, CA (also via webinar) - This year we have added a quality/operations section to our annual symposium.

Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS) - January 26-29, 2009 - Fort Worth, TX - Ops A La Carte® is on the management committee, and we had a booth at the show. The show went very well and we created several new partnerships with other consulting firms, got to see some of our old customers, and met several new ones. All in all, it was a very good conference and show.

Components for Military and Space Electronics - February 9-12, 2009 - San Diego, CA - Ops A La Carte® presented a paper entitled "Transitioning to Lead Free for Military and High Reliability Products". The presentation was well received and it appears there is quite a bit of interest on this topic.

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