Achieving high reliability in electronics doesn’t always have to come at the high cost of hundreds of hours of expensive testing and redesign. Following the 3 product reliability fundamentals outlined below can help you hit your electronics reliability targets in a cost- and time-efficient way.
1. Solve the immediate problem and move on! Don’t spend unnecessary time studying it, publishing it, or analyzing it.
While you want to try to answer as many questions as you can about the predicted reliability of your electronic assemblies, spending too much time analyzing problems that may arise could come back to bite you. Your goal should be to initiate actions (analysis, testing, design rules, manufacturing, material selection, etc.) based on your findings and prioritize those that make the most sense from a technical and financial perspective, rather than spending excessive amounts of time studying, publishing, or analyzing results. Electronics engineering resources are expensive and time to market is critical – so the faster the customer gets what they need, the better for everyone.
2. Go to the source. Destructive Physical Analysis (DPA) wastes time; it’s all about the process.
Having a high degree of control over your supply chain is also crucial to helping ensure reliability – speeding time to market and reducing warranty claims. If you procure your own equipment, develop your own process, and specify your material source you will have less need for post-production evaluation, because you will already know where the materials are coming from, how they’re being assembled, and can assure quality right from the start. When you focus on DPA post-production, you spend additional time and money testing and might also turn up false results, which could lead to cost overruns and scheduling delays.
3. Simulation is a powerful, efficient tool. Don’t just know how, but also when and for how long to use it.
Though simulation has made reliability testing much easier and more efficient for companies, it’s true that there can be “too much of a good thing.” Start using simulation as early as possible. Keep it simple and focused on the most critical reliability and design challenges initially, and expand the scope of simulation when you have significant, new design information to work with. Be mindful of the limitations of your design and focus on problems where simulation is the right tool for the job. This targeted approach minimizes time to market and reduces the risk of overcommitting engineering resources. For example, if an engineer were to perform three levels of thermal simulation, they’d start with the common rules of thumb, then move into initial reliability calculations (pen and paper), and finally move to full 3D simulation. By the time they arrived at the simulation stage, there are fewer potential surprises, and they’ll have a good understanding of what the simulation is telling them, with minimal need to go back to the drawing board or purchase any new components.
Today, there are many opportunities to design and build high reliability electronic systems out of, or as part of, relatively low-cost electronics. However, as outlined above, it requires critical focus on 3 main fundamentals:1. Solving the problem
2. Going to the source
3. Efficiently simulating
If you want to learn more about how you can efficiently use simulation in you design process, download our free Physics of Failure Simulation and Modeling Specifications webinar.