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Boost electronics system quality through IC supplier-customer cooperation

Posted: 23 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electrical over-stress? electrostatic discharge? no-trouble-found?

With the rising complexity of automotive electronic systems, one of the most vital winning features of modern integrated circuits is quality. This trait is what most IC customers recognize and expect. Although IC manufacturers have been extremely successful in reducing defects, on the other hand a significant part of the quality drive for printed-circuit-board module makers is originating from reducing electrical over-stress (EOS), electrostatic discharge (ESD), and cases of no-trouble-found (NTF) (figure 1).

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Figure 1: The solution to these problems requires the involvement of the PCB module maker and the automotive manufacturer as well.

EOS is any kind of electrical overload resulting in damage or malfunction of an electrical component or system.

ESD is a specific type of EOS originating from triboelectric or inductive charging and encountered in manufacturing environments or applications.

NTF is a category that contains cases of failures that appear only under very specific functional and environmental conditions which have been impossible to reproduce by the analyst and as soon as these conditions cease to exist, the failing behavior disappears.

Contrary to manufacturing related issues, problems related to system EOS/ESD robustness or marginal/intermittent performance cannot be solved by the IC supplier alone. Solution of these difficulties requires the involvement of the PCB module maker and the car manufacturer as well. This is because the conditions leading to these types of failures can only be understood in the context of the application where the IC originally failed.

This article describes the way IC manufacturers may address EOS/ESD/NTF issues by working closely with customers. As part of this process, customers are engaged into cooperation around these specific failure modes during tailored workshops where running issues are analyzed in depth. After identifying all relevant details, containment actions are derived and permanent solutions are sought, based upon a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) loop. The cooperation continues in the frame of Quality Update Meetings, until all issues are closed permanently.

Value proposition
The large fraction of EOS/ESD/NTF (or in short EEN) issues in the supply chain and their inter-boundary nature should trigger the IC manufacturer to create a structured approach to actively focus on the following targets:

FPPM reduction
As PPM is a major quality performance indicator in the electronics business for both the IC supplier and the PCB-module maker, it is essential to reduce it over time in a controlled way. Note that 1 one failing-part-per-million failure rate (FPPM) product inside a car that contains 10,000 parts would lead to 1% of cars of this type failing. This is not acceptable.

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