The effects of the exponential advances in electronics capabilities are perhaps most clearly seen in Consumer Electronics. Consumers routinely enjoy entertainment, communications and computing devices that were only dreamed of a few years ago, and they have developed an insatiable appetite for more. Competitive forces drive consumer electronics companies to bring the latest and greatest technologies into the hands, kitchens, living rooms and laundry rooms of people around the world in record time. They are continuously incorporating immature, cutting edge technologies into new products that are being pushed into mass production faster and faster. If a company stumbles in this race by releasing a product with unexpectedly high warranty costs or is forced to miss a market window due to design errors not detected until near the product release date, it can spell financial disaster. And if design and re-design costs are high, the resulting pricing can cause even a reliable product to be a market failure.
Qualmark’s technologies are uniquely well suited to helping consumer electronics companies survive and thrive in this aggressive environment. Since their inception, HALT and HASS have been the keys to getting a reliable product to market fast. In just a few days of HALT, failure modes are driven out of a new design that could have delayed product release or caused disasters in the field when the product got in the customers’ hands. And, they are driven out early in the product design and release cycle, when the failure modes can be eliminated at the least possible cost.
Consumer electronics encompasses a wide range of technologies, including land and mobile communications, massive LCD displays, computers and data storage, motor and process controls in washers, dryers and refrigerators, HVAC controls in furnaces and even robotics. The unique characteristics of the vibration and thermal stresses that can be applied during HALT make it effective for finding failure modes across this product range. Subassemblies within these products, such as power supplies and control PCBs, can be subjected to HALT even when the final assembly may be an appliance too bulky to test effectively.
After production has started, HASS is the tool of choice for ensuring that supplier or process upsets do not cause field problems. By providing production line testing that is completed in just a few hours and will replace days of conventional burn-in testing, HASS keeps costs down by getting product out the door and onto the truck faster. When product volume justifies it, HASS can be replaced by a Highly Accelerated Stress Audit (HASA), which will move product through the factory even more quickly while retaining the quality levels the consumer demands. One major manufacture of computers for home and business use has capitalized on the value of HASA to maintain its reputation for high reliability, and has even pushed the requirement for HASA down to the companies that supply them with key subassemblies.