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Should we focus more on measuring the results, or the process that get us there?
This is the constant balancing act that we all address. I personally prefer to work on the processes that ensure high quality. But without some measures on quality, how do we know these are working?
Until someone invents a foolproof process, I would guess we still have to do both.
We can, however, take steps to remove errors from our engineering processes, from machine setups and human interactions that significantly reduce the number of defects found at our quality assurance stages that all build to reduce production cost and make happier customers.
Thankfully we have skills and tools which can make this a systematic approach to quality.
I would be happy to share my experience.
Tags: CAPA, corrective action, Defect opportunities, Defects, Design, dfa, dfm, FMEA, lean manufacturing, Manufacturing costs, Manufacturing execution system, Manufacturing System Solution, MES, MSS, PCBA, Quality, Route cause, Valor, yield, zero defects
I still get surprised, and occasionally disappointed, when I talk to production folk about quality. I still hear comments like, “our quality team deal with that”. or “we should talk to our Quality manager”. when what we are really talking about is making products error free.
I guess we don’t help ourselves by using terms like ‘right first time’ & ’zero defects’ or ’cost of non-conformance’. All guaranteed to terminate any conversation with production guys.
The upcoming SMTA conference in Florida should be a good opportunity to bring together process & quality issues.
I have just read the conference paper list and they nearly all read as ‘characterisation of process xx for environment yy’. For xx & yy substitute any combination of BGA, lead free, solder, package, under-fill, coating etc. etc.
All technical and necessary steps to implementing & understanding processes.
But I look at the conference list and wonder why few papers are submitted on the impact on product quality of xx or yy. Or am I in a different industry?
It seems like we adopt new package styles or process steps without seeking to understand the full impact of the change. Could we also learn by comparing the results not just in terms of process parameters but also in terms of product quality & cost between process xx to process yy?
So please do not reach for the quality manager on speed dial, should I use terms like ‘continious process improvement’ or the impact on customer yields when we next speak.
I might actually be talking about the same industry. There is room for both industries to converge.
I will be at the SMTA conference and will be happy to discuss this further. Look out for me at the conference.
I hope to see some Mentor customers at the SMTA conference this fall in Florida. I have the privilege of presenting a paper on Failure Mode Effects Analysis and how we can apply this methodology in electronics manufacturing.
Its a specialist topic, but has great resonance with what we are trying to achieve in manufacturing. Allowing us to produce higher quality products from the analysis of potential failures in products or processes, and minimising these by identifying the routes causes of failure. Allowing engineers to quantify & prioritise their improvement activities.
This approach may initially seem bureaucratic, but will ultimately lead to the more efficient use of our skilled resources. And aid our CAPA (Corrective and Preventative Action) compliance by having a defined methodology around defect avoidance activities.
Copies of the paper will be available after the SMTA conference for those who cannot make the conference.
For those who can make the conference I look forward to seeing you in:
Asia conference room
Between 12:00pm and 3:30pm Tuesday, October 16th.
Did any one spot the misspelling of ‘Quality’ in the header of my last blog?
I wish I could say it was a deliberate error to entice comments from my quality conscious readers. But sadly it was just an defect.
One letter missing from around a thousand. Making my defect per million opportunity rate 1,000 DPMO. Believe me it would be much higher if it were not for spell checker.
Back to the topic: Defect Opportunities
DPMO is a good way of standardising our understanding of our process capabilities and as such can be a valuable KPI we can take with us to monitor and compare our performance. But only if we have the same understanding of DPMO. Here the IPC have done the hard work for us by publishing standards on the methodology for calculating DPMO. The origins for these standards were in the work done by the iNEMI group. They solved the critical pieces of the puzzle; namely what counts as a defect? and how to calculate the result?
The Valor MES solution has adopted this work in its Valor MSS products and can report DPMO results to the IPC standard.
Please check us out, if DPMO is important to you.
Tags: CAPA, corrective action, Defect opportunities, Defects, dpmo, iNEMI, IPC, lean manufacturing, Manufacturing execution system, Manufacturing System Solution, MES, MSS, PCBA, Quality, Valor, yield
Why IT managers are engaging in manufacturing Quality improvement.
I guess the first question we should ask is; why IT Managers?
Increasingly IT managers are taking ownership for all factory infrastructure software solutions, including MES and Quality.
For Quality this largely takes the form of the IT manger being handed legacy Quality data collection solutions from engineering departments.
At this transition point the limitations of the legacy solutions become visible and usually include; old software and hardware platform support issues, unconnected islands of functionality, not scalable, poor support & lost knowledge.
Even though the legacy system may still meet the current Quality goals, the IT managers recognise that if they want to have a solution they can support into the future they must clinically evaluate their options. Do they invest more into the in-house legacy solutions? or do they scan the market for commercial products that meet their factory goals?
The answer is usually a pragmatic one; adopt a commercial solution, but maintain the quality database built up over many years.
An open database structure like sql allows the import of existing quality data whilst transitioning away from legacy solutions. Ensuring users get new capability whilst maintaining their investment in years of quality data capture.
Working with customers the Valor MSS team have built a knowledge base and capability to aid the transition from legacy to industry best practise Quality management solutions.
And its the IT managers who are becomings central to the discussion and implementation of new Quality solutions because of the need to connect, maintain and integrated infrastructure and databases across the factory.
Please challenge us to do the same for you. http://www.mentor.com/pcb-manufacturing-assembly/
Tags: CAPA, corrective action, Defects, infrastructure, IT, IT Manager, lean manufacturing, Legacy, Manufacturing costs, Manufacturing execution system, Manufacturing System Solution, MES, MSS, PCBA, Quality, sql, Valor
Test is not ‘Quality’:
Firstly I should declare an interest;
I am a test guy. I like the technical challenge of solving difficult test problems. And have been lucky to have worked on some interesting test challenges.
But I still get surprised when I hear comments like “we have an extensive test process to ensure product Quality”.
My surprise comes from my view, that whilst an extensive test regime will ensure defects are found and removed before our customers find them. This is not ‘Quality’. ‘Quality’ is having no defects. Or as described by Philip Crosby ‘Zero defects’ as one of the ‘absolutes of quality management’.
Once we that have accepted this ’absolute’, we should look to avoid defects. Which will require us to include capabilities outside traditional Inspection and test processes in our ‘Quality’ regime. And so must also include our methodology of process planning for assembly, the control of the materials, the verification and traceability of all parts and processes.
These become our essential ‘Quality’ features in striving for ‘zero defects’.
So if I can request one thing, its that I hear more often “we have extensive defect avoidance capabilities to ensure product ‘Quality’.
I will elaborate on some of the options for defect avoidance in following blogs.
Until then, those wishing to review how we at of Mentor Graphics assist our electronics manufacturing customers on their journey towards ‘zero defects’ can find more information on the MSS web page:
Tags: CAPA, corrective action, Crosby, lean manufacturing, Manufacturing costs, Manufacturing execution system, Manufacturing System Solution, MES, MSS, PCBA, Philip Crosby, Quality, Route cause, test engineer, Valor, yield, zero defects
I was reminded during a conversation recently what the main difference between a process engineer and a test engineer is. & why when I was working in EMS manufacturing we would get a test engineers to talk to customers in preference to a process engineer. Of course this was not an absolute rule, but one we usually followed. The reason? I hear you ask.
A test engineer can read a circuit diagram!
Meaning they could hold a meaningful dialog with the customer on what the product was designed to achieve in addition to discussing test coverage and test processes.
I had’nt thought about it much until that conversation reminded me, but the importance of understanding what the customer is trying to achieve should be the starting point for any initiative. When we do take time to understand, we sometimes find the underlying objective is outside the single driver of higher yields. Indeed, I found that some forward thinking organisations actually focus on the whole customer experience, of which product yield is just one element.
So in short to align ourselves with our customers objectives we need not only to ask the right questions, but also be capable of understanding the answers.
Tags: CAPA, circuit diagram, Defects, Design, lean manufacturing, Manufacturing costs, Manufacturing execution system, Manufacturing System Solution, MES, MSS, PCBA, Quality, Route cause, test engineer, Valor, yield
Quality comes from getting the little things right – consistently.
This is especially true when I see how global organisations perform. Somehow it becomes OK to get the little things wrong in global organisations.
Maybe its like litter in someone else’s neighborhood; not my problem.?
Which is perplexing when the rewards for getting the little things right is higher in global organisations. It all starts going wrong when inaccurate design data is transferred to manufacturing. This causes huge trauma in manufacturing who are on tight deadlines for product manufacture & feel they need to take ownership of the issue. When in fact they should just bounce the error back. But this is not possible when the looser is manufacturing, who miss deadlines and orders. So without correction, we continue to repeat the errors and our expectation is set to one of accepting that there will be errors. Not something manufacturing would tolerate if the design department were in the next office. So if we are to make global manufacturing work, we have to accept that a different approach is needed. Get the little things right – consistently.
Start at the base of our error pyramid; look at the quality of the design data.
More little things to follow.
I have been in many situations in the past where we had a manufacturing problem to solve. In all instances the first step was to find the scale of the problem, look for linkages to the route cause and then ‘go fix’. Simple right!
Well not back then; The fist hurdle was always having accurate data for both the problem which might be a drop in test yields, beneath a sea of false calls, defective test rigs, low product sample rates etc. etc. And connections to the supporting route cause data like component vendor data, product codes, operation points etc. etc..
Thankfully solutions are available to join up the data from the shop floor materials, processes and quality points: Business Intelligence (BI) solutions give a single ‘go to’ data base for analysing the huge range of data and forming the linkages needed to support corrective action decision making.
Further information on how BI solutions improve manufacturing quality can be found in the white paper: “putting Intelligence into electronics manufacturing”
Quality in particular ‘test’ are still seen as a black art by production and process teams.
In my experience the very best manufacturing engineers & managers are those that have both test and process engineering skills.
I now see this reflected in the ‘smart’ organisations who have already combined ‘engineering’ & ‘quality’ functions.
So why do we still have many manufacturing software solutions that do not link both assembly and quality?
These tend to be ‘legacy’ software solutions that follow the traditional divide between assembly and quality, offering little scope for further improvement and cross deployment of skills.
A good MES (manufacturing execution system) will bridge the divide across the entire factory and enable the analysis of results across key metrics in materials, asset utilisation and qulaity.
Ensuring some previously difficult analysis to become routine. For example; A drop in yield can be traced across all the operations points associated with the assembly. Process or component issues can be quickly identified and if needed all other products using that process or component vendor can be isolated for special attention.
A single focal point for assembly and test preparation, operations and data collection supports this ‘smart’ manuafcturing. Ensuring we take ‘black’ out of the ‘black art’.
Or are we happy with functional silos?
About Manufacturing Quality and Reporting
PCBA manufacturing control using MES solutions and product Quality improvement. Meeting compliance demands and product verification.
- Should we focus more on measuring the results, or the processes that get us there?
- Which Industry are you in?
- FMEA paper at SMTA International Florida 2012
- Defect opportunities
- Why IT Managers are engaging in manufacturing Qualty improvement
- Test is not ‘Quality’
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