Given the complexity of today’s electronic systems it’s not surprising that there are bumps along the way as products are delivered to market. While doing your best in terms of prevention, you have to be able to detect issues, estimate their magnitude, and assess their practical importance. Sometimes the issues are under your direct control and sometimes they aren’t, but of course they still have to be addressed.
Not long ago, we heard from a customer who wanted to share a story with us that involved their interaction with one of their customers. Not a glamorous story nor an extraordinary one, but rather more of a “just another day” story of a company providing parts to an original design manufacturer (ODM). Our customer — let’s call them Zeta Semiconductor or Zeta for short — uses dataConductor for a range of production and engineering tasks. Zeta was contacted by one if its customers, a leading ODM, which was having a problem with a system board that included a product from Zeta. We should note that Zeta has been supplying this product successfully for an extended time — nearing two years — and was surprised to hear from the ODM that it suspected an issue with the product.
There’s an old saying about someone looking for their lost keys under a street light. When asked by a passer-by if they’re sure this is where the keys were lost, our keyless friend says, “No, but this is where the light is shining.” While the ODM probably communicated concern to many or all of the primary suppliers of the parts used on its board, to our customer the focus was on their product. Was there a test hole, had yields changed, had WAT parameters shifted, when had test programs changed — serious questions to address and the sooner the better. Clearly if Zeta did have an issue with its product then it wanted to resolve it, but if it didn’t have an issue then that would leave it to the ODM to focus elsewhere.
Within a few minutes, Zeta started to put together a comprehensive picture of the product’s status to share with the ODM. While open to the possibility of a problem Zeta really did not suspect an issue. From preliminary engineering studies to years of production data, the dataConductor warehouse had all the data within easy reach, and the analysis tools made it easy to trace the lots in question and place them in context with other lots. Everything they found made sense — the yields were steady, test programs had not been modified recently, and fab parameters were steady as well. Zeta was able to quickly produce relevant plots, tables, and summaries that allowed their customer to comfortably rule out the product in question and look elsewhere. Within the day Zeta had a complete response to the ODM, and for their part the ODM folks were satisfied that the problem was not with Zeta’s product.
Whether part of a routine define/measure/analyze/improve/control process or as a result of an interrupt-driven situation, many instances arise where someone ends up saying, “We need to take a look at the data.” dataConductor made it easy for our customer to not just look at the data, but comprehensively determine if there was anything they needed to do by way of their product. And they were able to do it quickly and confidently.
Just another day.