Automated Failure Rate Analysis tools

November 27, 2008

Automated Failure Rate Analysis tools
~James Dunn

Whenever an electronic circuit is designed for the military, an evaluation must be made to estimate how long the circuit is expected to survive in the environment it will be used.

Each part produced has certain information provided by the manufacturer. Sometimes the Hardware Designer or the Failure Rate Analyst must contact the manufacturer and have them generate the information. Either way this information is available.

Develop a subroutine within the CAD software (like Mentor Graphics) for making PCB’s to collect the part numbers used:

  • no need to count or sort them, this information is readily available
  • make an excel compatible list of part numbers, easily done
  • upload the excel list into an excel workbook where a Visual Basic program massages the data
    • lists a part number, counts the occurrence and list quantity, deletes duplicates
    • compares part numbers with previously stored data
      • the data would include the failure rate information previously collected for that part number
      • the part numbers without failure rate information would be flaged and a web interface would notify the Failure Rate Analyst by email of the deficiencies
    • The Failure Rate Analyst would research and enter the missing information into the excel program
      • This information becomes available for the next time the program is run
    • When finished the excel program would automatically correlate the data and provide the needed information for the entire PCB to the Failure Rate Analyst
    • Other information that is derived could be fed to or from the Excel program for generating the written reports needed for military hardware automatically

The proposed system would save hundreds of labor hours per Hardware Assembly.

A Failure Rate Analyst makes between $45 and $75 per hour company gross expenditure, that would be a savings of at least $9,000 per Hardware Assembly.

Similar routines could be used for interface with other quality assurance programs. One such program groups parts together that form functional circuit sections. After grouping the parts together each circuit group is evaluated for failure relationships. The same excel spreadsheet program could automatically do the evaluations and save 40 hours per complex circuit board. Again this savings is significant per hardware assembly which may be as many as 10 boards. $40 per hour x 40 hours x 10 boards = $16, 000 per hardware assembly.

Combined, the producer of each military project could reduce their costs by $25,000 per electronic hardware assembly.

Simple automated analysis tools can make a military equipment manufacturer more competitive or realize greater profit margins. See ISO9001

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