Product failure is one of the biggest challenges facing the electronics industry. It is a multifaceted problem that can be traced to poor design, electronic components and manufacturing procedures. While it is possible to tackle the challenge of poor design at the root by employing an experienced team of designers, the challenge posed by electronic components and poor manufacturing can persist throughout the lifetime of the product. Recycled, damaged, fake and otherwise counterfeit electronic components are unreliable; hence they tend to  fail earlier than expected. Reliability determines the period during which an electronic component will preserve its properties. According to generally available data, this period reaches 30 years in the space and medical industries, while in the military and civil industries, it varies from 15 to 25 years.

While we can treat the effect of counterfeit components and manufacturing procedures separately, taking a closer look reveals that counterfeit and defective components are also capable of introducing defects long time after product release.  These defects can have a latent effect or a catastrophic effect on the host system’s reliability. Such effects persist throughout the product’s lifetime and reduce its MTBF (Mean time between failure) while catastrophic effects cause the system to fail during testing.

One of the links between counterfeit components and manufacturing defects is solderability. Electronic components are attached to the printed circuit board with solder. A solder is applied between the component’s contact and the PCB, the temperature is increased, and a metallurgical reaction occurs, holding the contact firmly to the board. Solderability measures how well the component and the PCB’s metal contact are wetted by molten solder to secure those connections.

Poor solderability results in weak joints, which is often mistakenly attributed to the imperfect manufacturing process. Understanding the solderability of components and the board can minimize PCB failures and improve final product quality. Aging also reduces the solderability of electronic components; other factors are handling, storage for longer than six months and multiple thermal exposures. Any electronic component that does not meet the design goal due to these factors is most likely counterfeit.

For optimal results, solderability testing should be done just before assembly and soldering. Cybord’s continuous component  inspection method addresses this specific need.

The cost of quality best explains the economics of product failure. The cost of product quality has two components. The first one is the cost of poor quality, and the second is the cost of good quality. Poor quality costs have two components: internal and external failure costs.

In electronic product development, internal costs are incurred when defects are detected before the products are shipped or sold to consumers. Counterfeit and defective components are the primary cause of internal failure costs. External failure costs are incurred when defects are detected after the delivery of products to users.

Internal failure cost includes the cost for:

  • Rework
  • Redesigning
  • Failure during testing
  • Delays

 

External failure includes the cost for:

  • Product recall.
  • Repair cost.
  • Legal Liabilities.
  • Warranties.
  • Loss of Customer trust.

 

In the electronics industry, the cost of poor quality (COPQ) often greatly exceeds the cost of good quality (COGQ).

Companies can reduce the cost of poor quality by investing more in appraisal and prevention, and it  the first place to start is inspecting every assembled component before placement.  Companies should invest less in fixing low quality products, and more in assuring poor quality components are not assembled at all.