Effective production testing ensures customer acceptance and maintains product brand value, production line yield and cost effectiveness by ensuring that finished products comply with the expectations set during R&D, that product quality is consistent and that root causes for faults are mitigated.
Manufacturers care about the product quality they can achieve in their production. Whether they build one satellite a year, thousands of aircraft engines, or millions of microchips, finished products must perform to R&D specifications and customer expectation. If not, they risk low yield, product safety issues, costly recalls, warranty claims and damage to their brand.
Effective quality assurance requires you to relate the product to the performance achieved by designers in R&D. From this blueprint, quality assurance (QA) identifies discrepancies. Some deviations from the ideal may not affect the product, and may be deemed to be within bounds, but others might affect the entire machine or system, or even endanger end-user health and safety.
Volume, complexity and testing time matter
The type of testing chosen depends on the production volume, the amount of time needed to test and the consequences of a failure. Will you be testing thousands of components or sub-assemblies a day or only a few per year? Are you performing incoming testing to ensure that third-party components meet specifications? Will testing form a bottle neck on the production line and require off-line testing or will it be quick enough to be performed in-line? Does each piece need to be tested or is it more cost effective to test a percentage? And depending on the potential consequences, testing may be automated, standardized and fast, or represent a more complicated in-depth analysis.
- High volume percentage testing:
For relatively inexpensive, high volume parts – like smartphone microphones, speakers and buzzers – testing a percentage using simple pass/fail results can be effective, especially when combined with logged data that can be used to establish trends and improve process chains
- High volume testing of each piece:
For relatively inexpensive, high volume machined parts – like gears – where tool wear, for example, is an issue testing each piece with pass-fail results is likely the most effective choice especially when combined with logged data that can be used to establish trends and improve process chains
- Mid-volume detailed testing:
For higher value and more complex products, such as televisions or automotive parts, testing needs to be more detailed and tends take longer, particularly as the value of the product dictates that faults are repaired rather than scrapping the product.
- Low-volume, high-value in-depth testing:
For very high-value products, such as satellites or semiconductor manufacturing machines where the value of the product dictates that first-time yield (FTY) is a top priority, testing can be even more detailed and take a long time.
Each scenario presents a set of choices that must be made to achieve the best cost benefit and quality level.
Brüel & Kjær offers proven systems, designed for your industry and that can be customized for your individual requirements to best fit your production line and goals.
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