Technical Insights

Yield Improved by 5 Percent in Times of Uncertainty

2020-04-27  |  5 min read 

Quality, Yield and Throughput are key contributors to the success of manufacturing test. Missing any one of them will greatly jeopardize meeting the contractual shipment lead-time with customers. All of them require closely monitored indices, where any spike or gradual downward trend observed requires immediate rectification action. It is even more so in the world of automotive industry. Parts per million, commonly called PPM is an established key performance indicator to measure performance quality based on the failure rate per million parts tested.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered dozens of countries to implement nation-wide lockdown, where general travelling is prohibited. This entails workforce reduction in factories and alternate / work from home arrangements for office staff.

While factories continue to run production, many engineers, technicians and test managers need to work from home. This has created new work challenges, especially so for automotive supply chain customers relying on their contract manufacturers to test printed circuit board assemblies to ensure good yield, high throughput and low PPM.

With the travel restrictions across countries, and even limited mobility within cities, close monitoring to offer timely advice to the production line is almost totally dependent on manual feedback from the factories. Excel files or even screen captures from the production line monitors have to be captured and sent to stakeholders, for them to review performance and provide action plans. Such manual feedback loops induce time delay which affect quality, yield and throughout.

It was during this challenging period when a Keysight customer extended the usage of their manufacturing analysis solution, allowing them an innovative way to stay connected to their production floor despite lockdowns and stay-home regulations across various sites.

The increased amount of electronics in modern automotive applications

The automotive electronics manufacturer had earlier started using Keysight’s PathWave Manufacturing Analytics (PMA), which enable its entire team, from management to technician levels, to monitor and receive alerts when there is any deviation to key quality parameters for their devices under test. The company has invested in the PMA solution as part of their industry 4.0 roadmap for their worldwide production sites. It enabled their test managers and engineers access to worldwide factory sites.

Industry 4.0 towards digital transformation

With a significant percentage of their test engineers under global travel restrictions, Keysight PMA became an essential and innovative collaborative tool for the test managers and engineers to monitor and finetune production quality remotely. In fact, the manufacturer even managed to successfully improve its quality, while increasing its yield.

Even though the test managers and engineers were mostly working from home, they managed to monitor their production line closely. The first pass yield improved greatly from 94% to 99% within 2 weeks of actions taken while relying on Keysight’s PMA solution. Besides avoiding wastage of materials and scrap costs, the production team reduced the number of boards that needed retests due to invalid failures, or false calls. This freed up valuable test resources to keep their lines up and running.

The PathWave Manufacturing Analytics tool can also detect and alert engineers on test readings trending towards failure thresholds, thus preventing any marginally passed boards which must not be allowed to enter mission-critical applications as part of the automotive system.

Improvement in first pass yield

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it is heartening to see how connectivity to data can keep essential production lines running, and allow remote problem solving and quality enhancement for production lines.

Unlocking full potential of data

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