Sunday, September 24, 2023

Importance Of Quality Engineering In Consumer Electronics

By Subhabrata Chatterjee

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• Design changes in one component often impact other components, which often encourages software changes in other components as well and, finally, rework in one or more software elements
• Increasing overall development cost
• High chance of delay in the market
• High rate of regressions
• May need to develop additional components and, hence, boost efforts with respect to planned efforts

To avoid these issues, it may be useful for organisations to ask a few questions during conception phase and create a secure database that may provide optimal information to recover the shock of design changes.

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Some such questions that should be answered and documented during design phases are:
• What is the anticipated number of plan modifications that may happen during the development stage?
• How many elements should be involved during plan modification?
• How much rework effort is required for plan modification?
• Which component requires optimal rework effort?
• Which ingredients should be prepared early to minimise shock due to design modifications?

Database structure that may be useful to analyse and foresee design change efforts is given below:
• Unique design change number
• Description of design change
• Name of module or component where design change needs to be made
• Type of change
• Time spent to carry out the change
• Name(s) of person(s) who made the change
• Date on which design change is made

Fig. 1: Sekisui Chemical Co. Ltd – production characteristics: company-wide MFCA implementation for 34 sites with individually-different production characteristics
Fig. 2: An example of poor soldering

Cost of material waste. Any material/tool that is unavailable due to defect, mishandling or being scrapped is material waste. In every organisation, during execution of its process there is always some loss incurred. Material loss margin varies from company to company, depending on how they are checking it. A few material losses can be manipulated effectively, whereas others cannot.

Especially in the research and development sector, loss due to bad workmanship such as test equipment error, development/test setup issue, choosing right vendors for quality service and materials, and the like can be curbed by training, whereas material losses during the making of prototypes are inevitable.

By preventing material waste, costs can be spared in any kind of establishment. A few examples where industries took in huge costs towards material waste are given in Tables I and II, and Fig. 1.

Waste material can be imaged in consumer electronics based industries in the following ways:
• When defective tools, equipment or raw materials (like spare parts and consumables) are purchased
• Test equipment errors due to lack in regular calibrations
• Mishandling of equipment/poor workmanship
• Bad-quality materials
• Wrong settings or calibrations
• Poor inspection
• Lack of environmental controls
• Poor supervision of workmen

Cost due to non-conformance in manufacturing process. Non-conformance in the manufacturing process is an event that deviates from certain manufacturing protocols and criteria. Usually, manufacturing process management experts are keen to curb these losses. Non-conformance management solutions enable identification and documentation of these quality events, apply standard risk criteria to triage, route events appropriately and enforce structured failure analysis, root cause identification, quarantine and final disposition.

Fig. 3: Shorts between components and pins

There are various factors in the manufacturing process that may incur as contribution to manufacturing defects. Some factors that are observed as part of the manufacturing process are mentioned below:
• Lack in availability or usage of electrostatic discharge (ESD) devices like ESD wristbands, ESD tables, ESD clothes and the like
• Human hair that may fall on PCBs/components in assembly lines and cause damage to the board due to ESD generated from hair
• Thermal balance
• PCB cracked or broken during assembly of QA/QC activities due to which component failure may occur
• Soldering problems

Fig. 4: Dust on PCB after soldering

To cover the fabrication/assembly process and to measure the quality of manufacturing, there are some testing measures that need to be followed, a few of which are mentioned below:
• PCB analysis test
• Zero-value analysis
• Soldering evaluation and corrective action

A few examples of the type of quality non-conformance and damages that may occur in the manufacturing process and in the field are shown in Figs 2 through 6.

There are many dependencies in the manufacturing of consumer electronics products. Examples of dependencies are given below:
• Dependencies with system-on-chip manufacturer and vendor
• Dependencies with raw materials like small electronic and electrical components
• Dependencies with packaging vendors
• Dependencies with product body manufacturing vendors
• Dependencies with PCB vendors
• Dependencies with PCB layout vendors
• Dependencies with logistics vendors

Fig. 5: Ant on PCBA surface

Despite these dependencies, it is a great challenge for manufacturing industries to sync with various vendors and maintain manufacturing process quality. Following are some possible impacts if challenges are not met appropriately:
• Increase in field call returns
• Increase in rework
• Increase in warranty cost
• Increase in scrap
• Increase in low performance in overall productivity

To address the above points, non-conformance management systems should ask the following questions during the manufacturing process:
• How long does it take to find, analyse and resolve manufacturing issues?
• Are you sure you have really solved the issue?
• Is the issue recurring?
• How do you implement and enforce preventive measures?
• Do you really have the data required to identify non-conformances?


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