Confidence in Inspection

In the world of planning, manufacturing, and consumerism, we rely on the fact that what we design or purchase meets the requirements set forth. For a consumer, it really is a leap of faith that what we buy does what the label or manufacturer says it will do. For consumable goods, that is basically it; if it doesn’t work or do what it should, we don’t care—just return it.

However, in the second tier of this scenario are durable goods. For housing, construction, and other trades that have safety and health concerns, we rely on independent inspection to make sure things are being done correctly and to the standards for which the work must conform. An example could be home electrical or plumbing. The work is performed by licensed tradespeople but requires an inspection by a third party. This guarantees what was done is compliant with health and safety standards. If something is found to be incorrect, the third-party inspector will not pass the work performed until corrections are made. This stops the possibility of unsafe or incorrect work being hidden. Of course, in this case, the consumer cannot pick the third-party inspector or have a say in how the work is performed other than the plan or scope.

Now, in our third scenario, we have total control of the product. We design it and decide who manufactures it. We give the design and performance requirements and the final criteria. However, this is where the control falters. When we receive our product from the manufacturer, we have to assume that it was manufactured to our specifications. Sure, it may work, but will it work for the long term? It was inspected by the manufacturer and even has their stamp of approval, but that doesn’t tell us much.

Many quality accreditations state that an auditor cannot audit their own work. Remember, within a manufacturing facility, all employees work for the same company, the same monthly revenue goals, and the same deadlines. Here is where the game gets a little fuzzy. Imagine that the shipping deadline is 4:00 p.m., the delivery is already late, the customer is demanding their product, and the identification ink on the product is blurred. Now, someone in that manufacturing facility is going to make a call on whether they ship it anyway since it’s only ink and it’s close enough, or scrap it and make it right. Oh, did I mention it was the end of the month too? They are short on their revenue target.

How confident are you now?

This is where third-party inspection provides you the missing confidence. Many end-user companies require in-process or out-of-the-box inspections. These are cases where an end user dispatches one of their own inspectors to physically go to the manufacturing plant and inspect their product in one of the two aforementioned ways. This inspection process puts the burden on the end-use customer because they must incur the cost of their inspector traveling to the manufacturing plant. However, this does satisfy the customer since they do inspect their own product to audit it is manufactured properly. Again, this is not the ultimate solution.

Independent, third-party inspection is where all the pieces fall into place. The third party must remain neutral to either side. The job of third-party inspection is to provide a unbiased review of the customer requirements versus the final product manufactured. This inspection can include both physical and functional criteria. In the instance of PCBs, this can be cosmetic, dimensional, electrical, and in some cases, functional. In this neutral playing field, the customer provides the requirements and/or inspection criteria to the third-party inspection entity as well as the procurement order to the manufacturer, which also includes the deliverables.

When the product has completed its manufacturing cycle, it is sent to the third-party inspection entity. This entity may be local to the manufacturer or located elsewhere. When the product arrives at the third-party inspection entity, it is given an unbiased review based on the requirements of the end-use customer as previously described. When the inspection is complete, the product is either certified to meet the customer requirements or is found to be non-conforming. The strong point here is that the review is unbiased, and the results are binary—either conforming or non-conforming based on the requirements set forth as deliverables.

The customer is then briefed on the results and provided objective evidence regarding any non-conformances. If all product is conforming, it is then shipped to the customer or duly designated receiver. Non-conformance issues require resolution, and after review, the customer either accepts the product under an authorized deviation or the product is returned to the manufacturer for resolution and/or disposition. There is no grey area with third-party inspection. Ultimately, the product is shipped conforming to the end-use customer, or it is returned non-conforming to the manufacturer. Another key point is that some referee testing can be accomplished. These may be specific to plating (latent voiding), TDR, and other tests that may not be possible at the manufacturing facility.

Conclusion

With our earlier example regarding third-party inspection in the construction industry, which is required, we see the growing acceptance and requirement of third-party inspection in many theaters of the manufacturing industry. This is becoming more prevalent with military, aerospace, and medical. When high reliability is an absolute necessity, the requirement of independent inspection also becomes the necessity.

Todd Kolmodin is VP of quality for Gardien Services USA and an expert in electrical test and reliability issues.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine.

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2019

Confidence in Inspection

04-12-2019

The job of third-party inspection is to provide a unbiased review of the customer requirements versus the final product manufactured. This inspection can include both physical and functional criteria. In this neutral playing field, the customer provides the requirements and/or inspection criteria to the third-party inspection entity as well as the procurement order to the manufacturer, which also includes the deliverables.

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2018

Testing Todd: What’s in your ET?

07-13-2018

With all the buzz around automation, paperless operation, and integrated processes, it’s time to think about how the connected systems work within an electrical test department. We are all familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), but with electrical test we can also add computer-aided test (CAT) and computer-aided repair (CAR).

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Testing Todd: How are the Ratings?

05-24-2018

Hello, readers! Thank you for stopping by again. Let’s talk about ratings. No, I’m not talking about the latest Facebook likes or Twitter retweets, but a topic that confuses many final QA technicians the world over. I’m talking PCB voltage ratings.

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Testing Todd: AVI—Your Tireless Friend in Final Inspection

05-01-2018

The “automation vs. human” debate continues. There are experts with many years of experience -performing final inspection with precise detail. This is not debated. However, in the course of human events, circumstances change with unpredictable results. This presents challenges to manufacturers striving to deliver product on-time and within specification guidelines.

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2017

Testing Todd: No Missed Steps—5S Methodology

08-22-2017

In today’s work environment, a company should strive to produce quality product, maximize margins and reduce cost as much as possible. At times, this can be very difficult. Work ethics and methodologies of “how to do things” have developed over many years and can be deeply rooted in many manufacturing theatres. We find at times the “way we have always done it” may not be the most practical way today. This is apparent with the advances in automation, labor force reduction and shifting market demands.

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Flying Probe Testing vs IPC-9252B

05-30-2017

Flying probe testing is extremely popular in today’s manufacturing theatres. The main factor is cost reduction in contrast to dedicated fixtures and fixture testing. However, there are some limitations in flying probe testing when gauged against industry specifications—specifically, the use of indirect vs direct testing in Test Level C.

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Testing Todd: Go With the Flow

04-18-2017

In today’s testing theatre, the flow of information from the OEMs and manufacturers to the independent contractors is mission-critical. Missing information can cause delays, incorrect processing and ultimately scrap or end user rejection of the product. The buzz term being used a lot today is “flow-down.” It pretty much describes itself: It is the flow of information down the supply chain.

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Testing Todd: Plating and Surface Finish—The Challenges to Electrical Test

01-23-2017

Plating and surface finish applications are not without their own set of challenges but these manufacturing processes also affect the electrical test theatre. Microvias, high-aspect ratio plate quality, and surface finish all have their own challenges in ET.

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2016

Testing Todd: Are You a Leader or a Manager?

10-21-2016

The question can be asked, are you a manager or a leader? Can you be both? Is there even a difference? The answer to this latter question is, yes. In a successful organization there are many people performing different tasks all in harmony to make the business successful. Some individuals can be phenomenal leaders while others can be excellent managers. Some can actually be both. How do we define a leader from a manager?

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Test & Measurement—The Case for Validation

07-15-2016

Test and measurement (T&M) are terms that can strike fear into the most robust of minds. Many engineers create designs and products of the future with specific results predicted for performance.

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Testing Todd: Quality Management and the Hidden 'I' in Team

05-24-2016

Today, businesses of all types are jumping on the quality bandwagon. The more critical the product, the more the consumer/customer wishes the highest possible quality in the goods or services requested.

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Quality Management and the Hidden 'I' in Team

05-06-2016

Today, businesses of all types are jumping on the quality bandwagon. The more critical the product, the more the consumer/customer wishes the highest possible quality in the goods or services requested. Customers send surveys with buzzwords like ISO, QMS, and AVL for their suppliers to complete so they have confidence that what they receive is of the highest quality.

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Testing Todd: Process Management: Doing It Right

04-27-2016

Simply put, process management is the idea of figuring out how to do something, documenting it and then monitoring the effectiveness of the steps you created for the end result. Simple, right? Unfortunately, many who take on this endeavor fall short due to missing some key attributes to creating and maintaining a robust process. This article features eight steps in building and maintaining a robust process.

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2015

Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuit Testing: Challenges & Solutions

06-24-2015

Although flex circuits are nothing new in today’s technology roadmap, the testing of unpopulated flexible circuits can be challenging. In this article, columnist Todd Kolmodin writes about the different methods available to test these circuits.

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Electrical Test: Surface Finish vs. Water Marks

05-20-2015

New finishes have come to market; some allow better conductivity, while others reduce the overall cost of precious materials. Regardless of the finish, electrical test must be performed on these circuits. With that comes the caveat of how much of a witness mark can be left on any given landing pad and still be acceptable to the CM or the final OEM user. Todd Kolmodin explains.

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Challenges of Electrical Test

01-28-2015

In our arena today, we can solve pitch and density with flying probe machines, and volume with our grid testers, but the catalyst that is in the mix is that pesky soldermask! Here's why I bring up that necessary process as a problem for electrical test.

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2014

What is 4-Wire Kelvin?

12-05-2014

"I've been asked many times, 'What is 4-Wire Kelvin?' So, this month I will explain the 4-Wire Kelvin Test and how it can help uncover defects that normally would go undetected in standard electrical test methodology," writes Columnist Todd Kolmodin.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

12-01-2014

In this installment of "Testing Todd," Gardien's resident expert Todd Kolmodin answers questions from Dan Beaulieu concerning the future of electrical test. His focus is on the future of testing technologies, testing equipment, and E-test.

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Testing Todd: Where Do We Go From Here?

12-01-2014

In this installment of "Testing Todd," Gardien's resident expert Todd Kolmodin answers questions from Dan Beaulieu concerning the future of electrical test. His focus is on the future of testing technologies, testing equipment, and E-test.

View Story

Flying Probe - Indirect Testing vs. Military

08-19-2014

The use of flying probe testers has become increasingly popular in recent times, mainly due to the affordability of the equipment and also the reduced cost of testing, as no dedicated or "bed of nails" fixture is required. When using flying probes to test military product, one must be diligent to make sure the test method is allowable.

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Testing Todd: Flying Probe - Indirect Testing vs. Military

08-19-2014

The use of flying probe testers has become increasingly popular in recent times, mainly due to the affordability of the equipment and also the reduced cost of testing, as no dedicated or "bed of nails" fixture is required. When using flying probes to test military product, one must be diligent to make sure the test method is allowable.

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Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask

07-30-2014

This month, "Testing Todd" author Todd Kolmodin of Gardien Services USA presents readers' questions about the basics of electrical test, including the different types of testing available today.

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Testing Todd: Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask

07-30-2014

This month, "Testing Todd" author Todd Kolmodin of Gardien Services USA presents readers' questions about the basics of electrical test, including the different types of testing available today.

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Seven Tips for Choosing the Right Test Service

06-12-2014

Do you need to go outside your company for your testing service? Maybe you have capacity issues, maybe your equipment is down, or maybe you just want an established back-up plan? Whatever the reason, it is very important to choose the right outside testing service because, ultimately, you're not just choosing an objective service provider; you're choosing a partner.

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A Summary of Various Test Requirements

06-03-2014

The PCB industry has advanced significantly in the recent millennium. OEM specifications and requirements have also advanced due to the maturing of technologies, which has caused the requirements of electrical test of these higher technology products to advance and increase in intensity.

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Testing Todd: A Summary of Various Test Requirements

06-03-2014

The PCB industry has advanced significantly in the recent millennium. OEM specifications and requirements have also advanced due to the maturing of technologies, which has caused the requirements of electrical test of these higher technology products to advance and increase in intensity.

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