The Sum of All Parts: Factors of Reliability


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A popular definition of reliability is “The quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.” Upfront engineering is of utmost importance in developing a design that will endure its intended life cycle. On the other hand, the manufacturing of that design is just as critical. Both processes go hand in hand and are equally as important. As a PCB manufacturer and a PCBA assembler, I take a look this month into some of the critical areas of manufacturing that play a role in determining a reliable product. There are four specific areas—quality suppliers, SPC, in-process verification and testing, and preventive maintenance—that will help increase the reliability of end user electronic parts.

Quality suppliers are the backbone of any manufacturer to achieve continuous reliability. End-user reliability often starts with its manufacturer’s suppliers when it comes to quality, on time delivery of raw materials, defect free materials, technical support, and responsiveness to issues. Sub-par materials or counterfeit parts will adversely affect reliability and must be safe-guarded by continually assessing your supply chain. Monitoring and measuring suppliers is a necessity to maintain consistency and quality control within the process flow. Suppliers need to be monitored through the Key Performance Indicators that are most critical to manufacturing, and they need to be periodically reviewed to ensure each supplier is performing to specific quality standards.

The electronics industry is constantly changing, with trends toward smaller parts and new materials. This creates a possible need to add new suppliers to your approved supplier list. In saying that, it’s imperative that they go through an assessment. This assessment may consist of a standard audit survey, onsite audit, or meet a specific certification such as ISO, AS9100, MIL-Spec, etc., which will identify their commitment to their product. Product reliability starts with a good base of material suppliers.

To read the full version of this article which originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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