The strategic focus of Qualmark's Center of Excellence (COE) is to reduce customer warranty costs that are attributable to product failures by deploying and supporting an Accelerated Reliability Testing program.

The COE team absorbs information about the product from customer design experts and applies decades of experience and specialized knowledge in Accelerated Stress Testing to deliver solutions that will significantly reduce existing warranty costs and pro-actively mitigate warranty costs in new designs.


If your product reliability is creating issues that are escalating warranty costs, chances are you have already made product reliability improvement investments trying to find a solution. These product reliability issues and failed solution efforts are painfully expensive.

Qualmark’s Center of Excellence team has developed a Proof of Concept (POC) program for ODM’s, OEM’s and their supply chains that clearly demonstrate the financial value of effective and strategic application of Qualmark technology and services.

Fast Track Your Product Reliability Improvement and Warranty Cost Management Solution Decision with a Proof of Concept

The POC program consists of a limited, defined engagement that can be used to substantiate warranty claim reduction projections prior to any capital expenditure.
 
Benefits

 

♦ Reduce overall warranty costs by up to 50%

♦  Reduce warranty management overhead

♦  Reduce time to market

♦  Release a mature product at introduction

♦  Shorten production test time and expense

♦  Reduce infant mortality/out of box failures

♦  Reduce NFF (No Fault Found) in RMA returns

♦  Improve effectiveness of the RMA depot

♦  Increase customer satisfaction, strengthen brand

♦  Reduce risk of product recalls

 
Start a conversation with us now and our Qualmark’s experts are ready to conduct the Proof of Concept program for you.


POC SUCCESS STORIES



Avionics

 

Qualmark Customers Comparison Chart in Avionics Industry
Avionics has been the largest segment for Qualmark technology throughout our 20 year history, driven in large part by high risk/high safety “failure is not an option” mindset of space exploration requirements. Qualmark’s COE has extensive depth of experience in assisting avionics manufacturers achieve robust, reliable systems - from cockpit instrumentation to IFE (In-flight Entertainment) and all systems of the avionics bay.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Airframer Quality Improvement Program

An aircraft manufacturer instituted a defined project to increase reliability, minimize risk and reduce warranty expenses by improving the quality of products from its supply chain. Qualmark was recognized by the manufacturer as the best way to guarantee benefit from the effort due to COE's global reach and known consistency of technology application throughout Qualmark's network.

One example from this effort: Qualmark COE recognized that implementation of, and product-specific training in, accelerated stress testing would quickly advance the ability of this avionics supplier to meet/exceed the goals set by their customer. Working closely with this avionics supplier’s team, Qualmark COE developed a training and implementation program. The supplier then invited their aircraft customer to witness first-hand how the new program was able to quickly deliver direct actionable information in an area of design concern, which in turn, assured a more robust product for the aircraft manufacturer. The manufacturer now places high confidence in the competence and program execution of this supplier.

This aircraft subcontractor realized such excellent results in reliability improvement, reduced warranty expense and increased capabilities that it implemented Qualmark’s program in-house and has now launched the process across more than 25 other products.

RESULTS: Because this supplier now requires Qualmark recommended practices from its supply chain, it has solidified the strength of its relationship with existing aircraft manufacturing customers and significantly increased the number of products it sells. Product reliability has increased and warranty costs decreased. The bonus is that the increased in-house capabilities this customer implemented based on COE collaboration, made it far easier to win new contracts and expand its (happy) customer base.

 

Clean Energy

 

Clean Energy BulbEmerging technology and the demand for cleaner energy creates a rapidly evolving and challenging market in which to obtain financing, develop and introduce innovative, cost-effective, profitable products. Devices that meet the long-life expectancies, environmental tolerances and interoperability performance needs for the clean energy industry have all benefited from solutions provided by Qualmark COE experts.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Energy Management

A major producer of industrial automated energy management systems engaged Qualmark COE for a fast, effective solution for their load shedding units that were inexplicably producing a false overload reading. Load shedding devices are used by electrical utility suppliers to reduce the grid maximum load during peak demand periods to avoid widespread rolling blackouts. The false overload was repeatedly triggering system shut downs during which industrial and commercial customers were experiencing unnecessary production stoppages costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in downtime and idle labor. Speed in resolving the failure was essential. Unable to detect issue with traditional reliability testing and under pressure from the utility provider and their customers to resolve the false triggers, the load bearing device manufacturer turned to Qualmark COE.

Qualmark’s COE application engineers applied accelerated reliability testing which successfully replicated and pinpointed the causal failure mode within 3 days.

RESULTS: Corrective actions and design improvements that resulted in a very fast, complete fix of the issue were performed. The improvements provided performance stability in the load shedding unit and the power infrastructure customers are no longer subjected to costly intermittent operational downtime. A win/win/win solution.

 

Computers

 

Computer equipment testing; laptop, desktop, cell phonesHeightened consumer demand and competition for technological superiority places a premium value on computer performance and reliability. The rapid evolution of onboard capability, features, interconnections and packaging technologies can skyrocket the cost of qualification with traditional approaches. Qualmark’s COE not only offers highly effective solutions for increasing product reliability that shortens design, development and qualification cycles, but also for determining design or process faults that can turn up in the marketplace as warranty issues.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Laptop Computer

One of the world’s premier laptop computer manufacturers was suddenly experiencing spikes in warranty. While replacement/warranty costs are always motivation for determining a quick resolution, in this case, the product issue was causing significant customer dissatisfaction which was negatively influencing customer perception of overall brand. If left unresolved, other high-profile product lines could soon be affected.

Tests on the returned laptops had been performed, but reliability engineers were unable to replicate the issues. Warranty claims were rising. A No Fault Found (NFF) result was not going to be acceptable. The engineers sought outside assistance from Qualmark COE.

Qualmark COE experts learned that the company’s engineer instrumental in implementing HALT had been moved to a different division and the test technician was left without guidance on how to perform effective HALT. When executing HALT, the laptop was left encased in its protective shell which, of course, was designed to minimize laptop exposure to environmental stresses, and the laptop was left powered "on" throughout the test without any input power manipulation.

Sample laptops were shipped to Qualmark COE in Denver, where our experienced application engineers designed a more effective and aggressive test with broader functional test coverage:

  • Developed custom fixturing to secure individual sub-assemblies which ensured stress transmissibility

  • Devised functional test of Bluetooth/wireless performance

  • Implemented power cycling of the laptop while under test

  • Enabled monitoring of the integrity of the display while driving circuitry at extended operating limits

 

RESULTS: In less than 4 days of testing, Qualmark’s COE was able to replicate the two issues creating the increase in warranty claims. Failure analysis led to appropriate corrective action and the two issues were completely resolved. Interestingly, Qualmark’s COE testing also revealed another issue in the laptop by identifying a failure mode that was just starting to be tracked from the marketplace.

Quick results and effective corrective action provided resolution to the two known issues and proactive corrective action on the third issue prevented further drain on warranty. Qualmark’s COE provided solutions that not only enabled swift containment for a potentially costly warranty excursion, but helped preserve the brand’s premier status.

 

Consumer Electronics

 

Consumer Electronic ProductsWarranty claims can kill any competitive advantage in being first to market and scar a brand beyond redemption.

One of the biggest benefits in Qualmark technology is that it can radically reduce design and verification cycles and help customers deliver a more reliable product to market faster. Qualmark’s COE team has a very successful track record in (and thrives on) helping customers realize their goals for getting new, highly reliable product to the marketplace before the competition.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Mega-Sized LCD Television Monitors

Production of LCD television monitors was still in its infancy with mounting consumer demand for very large screens when Qualmark’s COE was engaged to help provide solutions for one of the world ’s preeminent producers of flat panel TV’s.

This Asian-based customer was an established leader in a number of other consumer electronics areas and understood very well the financial advantage for the first to market with a reliable, large screen TV for household use. A successful launch in the consumer arena would provide a rapid development path for larger, industrial-use LCD monitors.

The challenge for this manufacturer was pre-launch design reliability testing. Size, tolerance limits of the screen component and functional testing of multiplexed subsystems inhibited the ability of traditional testing approaches to provide meaningful insights.

Working alongside the customer’s product development experts the COE team:

  • Developed a Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) plan which overcame the technological test limits of the monitor to enable effective testing of the screen’s functional instruments

  • Devised specialized test fixturing that allowed for rigorous, informative testing of the monitor’s components

  • Delivered a custom-designed large scale test system to the customer’s Asian location in 8 weeks

RESULTS: The outcome of the project was that the process developed by COE quickly exposed numerous weak links in product design that had been missed by other test approaches. Analysis revealed that many of the failures would have severely compromised product performance if left unaddressed, creating substantial warranty claims and unforeseen financial hazards for the customer. Qualmark’s COE team was able to overcome the reliability testing challenges for this manufacturer that allowed early and highly successful product launch.

This manufacturer extended the benefits of its COE experience, implementing an accelerated stress testing program in-house and maximizing the Qualmark system investment to benefit other product lines. Today, the solutions provided by Qualmark COE have been deployed throughout the organization with Qualmark technology and COE-directed test programs implemented in every division.

 

Defense

 

Defense Electronics testingQualmark COE has across-the-board experience in assisting the military and its defense contractors in enhancing the reliability and robustness of battlefield ready equipment whether the equipment is intended for battlefield deployment or elsewhere. Manufacturers seeking to develop affordable defense platforms and weapons systems while meeting the demand for reliability and extended product life expectancy have found Qualmark's COE solutions to be a key component in meeting critical objectives.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Defense Electronics (Bare PCB)

This tiny, 16-layer board with very complex circuitry was destined for a highly sophisticated, multi-performance device. Since the production volume was low, development and manufacturing costs for the specific-use design rendered a high final cost. Even though the board passed all required military testing prior to release, it suffered from an unacceptably high failure rate in its end use environment. The manufacturer needed a quick resolution, not only to stem rising costs from a failing product, but to also avoid placing future DoD contracts into jeopardy. Reluctant to repeat the expensive and ineffective validation testing, the manufacturer contacted Qualmark for solutions.

With some certainty, failures had been linked to the unit’s “buried” vias. Viewed by the manufacturer as a production issue, the request was for COE development of a manufacturing screen so that bad units could be pulled before delivery. In this way, the manufacturer calculated, known good product could continue to be shipped while the pulled units could be reworked.

RESULTS: Qualmark COE developed a custom Highly Accelerated Stress Screen (HASS) and within 2 days of testing was able to isolate the vias issue. The failure modes would not have been revealed with single axis stress testing, but required combined random-axis vibration and thermal stresses to precipitate.

Additionally, Qualmark’s COE discovered a wide distribution on the failures, indicating that there was an inherent design issue that could not be screened out. This data, coupled with analysis from the field failures, allowed the manufacturer to configure a more rugged layout for the vias. Qualmark COE testing confirmed the extended robustness of the reconfigured boards.

Qualmark COE was not only able to very quickly pinpoint the customer’s failure issue, stemming the costly effort of test, repair/rework, but also provided crucial data for ruggedizing the board's design which enabled the manufacturer to recapture their good standing as a contractor for the military.

 

Medical

 

Medical device testing"Serious adverse event reports related to medical device use have outpaced industry growth by 8% per annum since 2001.

An analysis of root cause data reveals that failures in product design and manufacturing process control caused more than half of all product recalls." [1]

The reliability challenge for most medical device manufacturers today lies in the hampered ability to effectively evaluate product design given the multiple interactive subassemblies and process complexity of modern medical technology—varied boards, externally supplied components, connectors, assorted separate housings, plastic casings, software—much less facilitate a fast, effective process control program to weed out manufacturing-induced flaws, inferior supplier substitutions or, even worse, counterfeits.

Qualmark’s COE has in-depth experience in working with medical product designers and manufacturers to help successfully deflect FDA recalls, avoid litigation, reduce warranty incursions and elevate brand reliability.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Bedside Monitor Manufacturer

A leading hospital bedside monitor manufacturer turned to Qualmark’s COE for help as they struggled to find a solution for one of their devices experiencing a large number of field failures. This new device’s design called for measuring multiple points of patient data simultaneously, which presented a multi-layered complexity in attempting to identify the design (or possible manufacturing) cause(s) of the failures.

Under 483 scrutiny, quick resolution was paramount for avoiding FDA and financial consequences. Weeks of effort had already been exhausted by the manufacturer to determine a solution when they reached out to Qualmark.

Based on information gathered from this manufacturer’s product SME’s (Subject Matter Experts), Qualmark’s COE team developed a strategic approach that enabled rapid identification of the key product issues.

RESULTS: Within 30 hours of implementing Qualmark’s solution, Qualmark was able to identify to the customer the solder issues, component mount issues and software timing issues that were severely compromising this product’s field performance. Following root –cause analysis and corrective action, this manufacturer launched a highly successful, safe and profitable product.

 

Oil and Gas

 

Oil and Gas Exploration industry testing"We needed solutions. Fast." Not an uncommon response when our COE team inquires why a customer from the Oil and Gas Exploration industry engages them. Product integrity is paramount for business survival in the Oil and Gas Exploration industry. Non Productive Time (NPT) can quickly run into the millions of dollars, and exponentially explode should a rig incur downtime due to a downhole electronics failure.

Downhole can be the most abusive environment conceivable. Demand for deeper wells and increased need in tool function sophistication serve to heighten product reliability and warranty risk. Qualmark’s COE experience in the industry can provide a faster path to warranty solution.

 

SUCCESS PROFILE: Oil and Gas Downhole Service

A highly complex electronic sensing device made by this well regarded manufacturer inexplicably failed in its downhole application. Immediate in-house Failure Analysis and testing began to try to replicate and remediate the issue. A subsequent similar NPT event occurred again in another exploration field. The issue quickly escalated to the very top levels of the business where a NPT blemish on the company’s reputation would mean significant lost revenue. The mandate was to fix the issue — now. Out of time and unable to pinpoint what was triggering the failure, the company’s engineers reached out to Qualmark COE for solutions.

The COE team designed an advanced Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) approach utilizing the extended stresses of Qualmark’s TyphoonTM Inferno system. Within 20 hours of testing, not only was the team successful in recreating the NPT issue, other areas of potential concern were brought to the customer’s attention.

RESULTS: In a mere 2 days the COE customer had the information it needed to perform corrective action and act swiftly to eliminate this significant source of NPT expense for their company. Additionally, Failure Analysis and Corrective Action on the other potential issues pointed out by the COE team enabled the customer to extend the robustness of their downhole electronics systems and proactively eliminate NPT.

To further guard against any future warranty excursions due to internal or external process changes the COE customer contracted with Qualmark to develop an effective HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screen). As part of the HASS screen development process additional anomalies were noted in a batch of new production product. Through diligent tracing of the failure mode, a component was identified that caused a hard-to-troubleshoot intermittent failure mode. The COE customer worked with their supplier and was able to remedy the issue before product shipped to the field.

 

Utility - Water Metering

 

Industrial-Use Utility Meter Product testingNovel technology and application critical to future of startup company

Intense push by Investors in a startup company to launch a new, unique water utility meter design was the driving force in engaging Qualmark’s COE team to help map a quick, but effective reliability solution for the product’s introduction into market. Risk surrounding the new product needed to be minimized. The stakes were high. Because the product was destined for uses in large industrial installations, any failure in reliability exposed the startup and their investors to massive financial repercussions from their customers, their customer’s customer and so on.

 

SUCCESS PROFILE: Industrial-Use Utility Meter Product Launch

The product technology was so novel that the design team knew they needed fresh expertise to address reliability testing of the integrated metering system. Significant new complexities in the design challenged traditional reliability approaches. The product had, in fact, passed design verification testing – it met spec, but the organization knew better than to go to market without some scope of understanding of the product’s true robustness.

Qualmark’s COE experts devised a highly effective accelerated stress test program that:

  • re-worked a potted system to permit testing accuracy

  • tested water flow without the use of water

  • tested infrared capabilities while product was sealed inside the test chamber

  • achieved high temperature testing of circuit cards encased in a low-limit plastic housing

  • achieved requisite RS vibration into small circuit cards that lacked mounting holes

RESULTS: Among the issues discovered by Qualmark experts was a mounting flaw that, if left undetected, would have caused a large early failure rate and exposed the startup to huge warranty liabilities that could have led to the rapid demise of the business.

Instead, the start-up enjoyed a highly successful new product launch and was acquired by a well-established, leading utility device provider/manufacturer.