Even when requirements are met in the high-reliability supply chain, there’s more to do. Beyond ensuring electrical and environmental safety for all high-reliability electronic components, exceptional validation boosts security.
Sourcing components in the high-reliability supply chain requires diligent adherence to traceability and quality control standards. Beyond meeting the requirements, reaching for exceptional results requires the creation of unique solutions, continuity of processes, and a uniform commitment to quality assurance.
3 hallmarks of exceptional validation in the high-reliability supply chain
1. Creation of novel solutions
High-reliability comes with specific requirements. When traceability back to original component manufacturers is possible, that’s a solid start to ensuring conformance. But high reliability demands more than full traceability. Due to the complexity of global supply chains, even with original parts, the risk of non-conforming or counterfeit parts is a threat. When an original part comes through the door of an independent distributor, it must still go through the same rigorous testing procedures as a part sourced outside the standard supply chain.
Ideally, high-reliability testing plans are structured on a case-by-case basis. Validation looks to the manufacturers’ specifications of components as a starting point, but then moves on to an internal list of previous known good parameters from a known-good library. Software design that creates custom testing plans for high-reliability electronic components offers precisely tailored solutions. Testing for authentication and validation establishes a critically important baseline, but the process should always allow for expansion through custom planning, driven by customer needs.
Bottom line: Your procurement needs are unique, and the processes that support them should be too.
2. Continuity of rigorous processes
Maintaining a continuous learning process is critical to achieving constant improvement in the high-reliability supply chain. Rigorously maintaining a known non-conforming list provides a base for growing a smart inspection process. With every order that comes through the door, if there was a previous non-conformity from any part sourced from that organization, that part should not pass inspection unless a thorough comparison is done. As an example, if standard review requires scanning through a 40x microscope, but a previous quality control found ghost markings at 100x in parts from the same source, a heightened level of scrutiny is required. You can scrub against ERAI known parts lists to assist in establishing risk levels. But going beyond that provides that exceptional level of validation that high-reliability sourcing demands.
Evaluating incoming components to capture every detail available in a systematic manner creates a strong baseline for validation. When components come in, a known-good watch list is available for comparison. Establishing testing parameters when a golden sample is available is ideal – but that’s not always possible. The reality is that risk exists throughout the high-reliability supply chain, and information must be captured for all parts.
While sources do present differing levels of risk in the high-reliability supply chain, all incoming parts should be subjected to a risk-based testing approach. Even those parts rejected as nonconforming or substandard can yield important information. An ERAI known parts list can establish a baseline, but developing intelligence and a learning process over decades of accumulated knowledge builds an exceptional foundation. The reality is that risk exists throughout the high-reliability supply chain, and information must be captured for all parts.
Vetting suppliers requires continuity as well. Strong global vendor relationships are built through a willingness to work together, over time. Establishing and maintaining healthy vendor relationships takes a commitment to communication and a willingness to demand accuracy. A commitment to continuous improvement in vendor relationships requires attention to detail and actionable plans for identifying and resolving issues to support the overall health of the high-reliability supply chain.
Bottom line: Every inspection leads to a better inspection and input from customers is always considered.
3. Uniformity through all verticals
You need confidence that across all verticals, no corners are cut and no shortcuts are tolerated. Component designs overlap significantly between high-reliability and standard designs. The long-term durability and reliability requirements demand stringent design and testing requirements for high-reliability components, but across the board, the expectation in independent electronic distribution should be exceptional quality assurance. To ensure exceptional validation, every part coming in should be treated as a risk to mitigate.
The bottom line: All risk mitigation applies to all customers.
And to reiterate our main point: Sourcing components in the high-reliability supply chain requires diligent adherence to traceability and quality control standards.