Engineering Root Cause Analysis in Manufacturing

Background:

Increased product complexity (driven by market segmentation, multiple features and/or performance) hampers new product development. Complex products and manufacturing processes (e.g. Semiconductor, Automotive, Aerospace, Computing, high-end Electronics, etc.) require increased iterations of prototype assembling, testing, and performance measurement. Increasing interactions with varying materials and sub-systems exacerbate problem solving efficiency. Product developments increasingly suffer from lack of visibility into the root cause of performance issues causing higher resource demand (engineers, metrology/test equipment) and risk to schedule.

 

Situation:

A complex new product was failing validation at the end of the manufacturing process line. The engineering teams were unable to identify the root cause to the increased number of material and process complexities of this new device. The team, chartered with resolving the issue, determined they needed a ‘richer’, highly correlated data set of the production processes through the product assembly.

 

Target:

The objective of this solution is to reduce the development time and shorten time-to-market for new products, and improve manufacturing data quality. The solution approach is to enable data collection and analysis that maps component, sub-component, and supplier product data to the product’s test and performance data throughout the product’s assembly cycle.

 

Plan:

By exploring the full process and assembly flow, from external supplier to final validation, it was expected that the various product ‘parts’ could be uniquely identified, and that critical process and performance data could be collected against those parts. By securing stakeholder agreement to collect and share the critical parametric and part identification data, a central database and analysis tools could be implemented.

The data mapping should enable quick analysis of component and subcomponent interactions, making possible the information feedback to upstream assembly steps during the product/process development. The ‘real time’ evaluation of assembly performance data should speed the development process, resulting in a decreased time to market (TTM).

The plan included the rapid design and implementation of tool/metrology data extraction and storage, middle tier interfaces, and data analysis tools. The design also leveraged the company’s existing machine-readable item ID’s (electrical ID, 1D and 2D Bar Codes), equipment sensors, and centralized database.

 

Result:

The implementation of the traceability and data collection systems immediately increased visibility into the upstream processes and improved the manufacturing speed time to market. It also improved accuracy of root cause commonality studies showing failure linkage between supplier and assembly processes. The company was able to feedback precise root cause information to the supplier who adjusted their process, reducing the typical time required to attain these results from months to just 2 weeks.

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