I couldn't agree with you more. When in doubt, don't punt, follow the insructions. Remember, instructions are written to tell you how to do something correctly, be it how to make a product or how to use your new cell phone. Instructions are written for a purpose.
The kind of mistakes that could happen in PCB fabrication or Board assembly will be mostly due to not following the instructions. All the manufacturers should learn to respect their customers data and shouldn't try unnecessary experiments unless approved by the customer.
Not coming from the commercial market, I didn't realize how little some companies protect themselves.My experiences with this sort of thing happening within the aerospace industry is very limited, because the Government and most Aerospace manufacturers require that problems associated with poor product being delivered, is anathema because there is, most often, human life associated with it.
Witness the explosion of Apollo 13.The failure of a set of relay contacts, costing under two dollars (unusual within Aerospace) fused together in a heater circuit of the oxygen tank, thus causing the tank to keep on heating up until the oxygen pressure was so high that the tank ruptured.Were it not for the investigation as to the cause of the failure, initiated by a CAR (and probably a SCAR too) no one would have figured out how the explosion happened and how to prevent another one from happening again.
This points out two very important things in my mind:
(1)You must have all you processes under control, and
(2)You must know what is to be done to eliminate the problem from ever happening again if a problem occurs.
Assuring that your manufacturer's processes are all under control is just a subset of controlling your own processes and SCARs and CARs are an effective means of doing this within and without of you plant.Audits and source inspections can be effective in accomplishing this.
With a form such as a SCAR, there is little doubt as to (a) what the problem is, (b) how long has it existed, (c) what was the cause of the problem, (d) what will be an effective remedy to the problem, and (e) when will the corrective action be implemented.A SCAR is not designed to cast blame (that does nothing to solve the problem) it is designed to detect and remedy the problem so that it does not happen again.
Insurance against having problems, is merely applying a Band-Aid (even though it recoups lost dollars).The main idea, is to find out how and why the failure occurred and what can be done to prevent the problem from ever happening again.This will save money in the long run – you probably won't lose your customer's business, your reputation may be tarnished, but it won't be bad, and you won't, hopefully, see the same problem again and lose more money.
I leave you with this thought – Einstein's definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, and expect that there will a change to the outcome of whatever you're doing.Assure yourself that you know exactly what's happening at all times, by whatever means, and use documentation such as CARs and SCARS and others as necessary to return to the "straight & narrow".It's cheaper in the long run.
This is a great methodology and it's true that every company should strive to implement it where needed.
Human factors may make the source of costly process flaws hard to determine. Often a depth of business administration knowledge and technical expertise are needed. This points to the need for professionals at high levels in the organization to participate in analysis and corrective action.
Great article, Douglas. Corrective action reports are an exellent way to prevent future mistakes from happening. Mistakes are bound to happen, so correcting processes for less mistakes to happen can save a company a lot of time and money in the long run. These processes should be part of every successful company.
i agree -assigning liability could get ugly and drag on in litigation.
even so, as part of due diligence (audit, financials, references, etc.) with critical suppliers i would recommend obtaining a certificate of insurance and detailed description of what is covered. it's reasonable to request a new supplier have a 1yr rider added for special circumstances at the supplier's expense. after a year with no SCARs the rider can be dropped. you'll have to give something in return like a prepayment, guarantee supplier is sole sourced for specific time period, etc.
the certificate is also a requirement for workforce providers and independent contractors to protect IP and any physical work product. sadly in a past life we had an IC go off the deep end. It was truly tragic but from a business perspective we lost significant data and dollars to get back on track with a project. it took 1.5yrs but we received compensation to recoup much of the loss.
Thanks to Douglas for the reminder on the importance of SCARs and internal CARs. Yes, they can be time consuming and cumbersome but oh so worth it on many levels.
Douglas: As much as I am assigning blame this week (to Apple for missing forecasts) I really don't think most people in your position with the PCBs are really looking for heads to roll. All we want is corrective action and for it not to happen again. The error you described seems faily straightforward and the company took action. You can even see how it happened. Kudos to you for following through on behalf of your client--everybody needs an ally now and again.
I also try to admit when I am wrong. Apple may have still missed its forecasts, but it turns out there's a supply chain problem with its displays. (I doubt Apple is sitting around waiting for a mea culpa.) But I very much doubt Apple's display makers will miss the mark a second time. I wonder what their SCAR process looks like?
CurlyHarry: I started to write on supply chain insurance but couldn't figure out how it works. Thanks for the description. It is as I suspected: you can recoup some of your losses, but it doesn't do your customers any good. And, becuase the supply chain is so interdependent, I couldn't figure out how liability is assessed. It sounds for from ideal, but at least I understand it better.
With insurance you can only insure for you own negligence not others. For example, If you ran over the PCB's with a forklift this can be insured against because it was your fault. In the case of the PCB's you cannot insure against the PCB manufacturers mistake, he must insure for his mistakes that cause subsequent damage.
It is like liability insurance that everyone has, My company has this type of insurance for things that happen on our premises. It will not cost me substantially more for the insurance if I want to cover Customers material on my premises against my negligence. If the material is stolen his insurance must pay for it unless it can be proven it was my fault and then my insurance would pay. Only one insurance will pay.
Back to the PCB manufacturers responsibility, if he specifically insures his goods being the PCB's he is supplying against consequential damages it would only cost him a minor amount on top of the premiums he already pays per year so the cost per PCB suppplied is negligable. He simply has to establish this line of insurance at his end. I cannot insure against things he may do wrong, he must.
At our company we will not purchase from PCB suppliers that do not have this type of insurance. We have collected off the insurance companies as well so it does work. More importantly it focuses the PCB supplier on our material because if something goes wrong his insurance premiums will go up. Because the additional premiums is spread out over ll customers then the cost per PCB is minor.
We have done this for 4 years now without problems and collected twice totalling $135K from insurance. This does not help the fact that my customer does not get his assemblies on time but at least I am not out of pocket.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.