Vendor Reliability Program Assessment
A systematic evaluation of a broad range of potential reliability activities and tools as currently employed and integrated with one or more vendors.
When your product’s reliability is critically linked to a vendor’s reliability performance, your team will require knowledge of their current reliability program and how best to make changes to improve product reliability. Increasing field returns or changes in customer expectations, management decision to compete on reliability, or a decision to reduce warranty costs are examples of a need to change the existing vendor’s program. Of the many potential reliability activities to improve or introduce, which ones will fit with the organization and provide the desired return on investment?
From an understanding of the vendor’s current reliability program, develop a set of short and long term actions that will significantly improve the vendor’s ability to develop and produce reliable products.
VALUE TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
An objective view of the existing reliability program permits the effective investment in areas of the program that will efficiently improve product reliability. The very rapid ability to focus improvement efforts on the critical few coupled with a long term view and plan to get there, assists a vendor to dramatically alter their reliability program’s capability.
An example of Reliability Integration during the Vendor Reliability Program Assessment is as follows:
Vendor Reliability Program Assessment Leads to Reliability Goals
The high level view of the existing reliability program quickly highlights strengths and weaknesses. The connections into business objectives, customer expectations, technical constraints and product price and volume bound the acceptable reliability program. Within the program, the identification of efficient processes within the program around goals, risks, tools, and feedback and the appropriate use of the right tools connect to each area of reliability engineering and management.
To quickly determine the tools and approaches used across a vendor’s organization, conduct a set of 6 to 8 detailed interviews with key personnel. From the summary of these interviews we will be able to narrow down the focus of the assessment to a few areas for a detailed analysis. This may include more interviews, data analysis, or reviewing test programs and results. These rounds of assessment typically provide a clear set of recommendations to improve the reliability program.
The following case studies and options provide example approaches. We shall tailor our approach to meet your specific situation.
Using Vendor Reliability Program Assessment to Improve Vendor Performance
A Test and Measurement Instrument company was experiencing a high failure rate in both production and in the field. After a Reliability Program Assessment and analysis of field return data, we found a significant source of defects came from PCA manufacturing workmanship defects. The current process of returning boards to the vendor for root cause analysis and corrective action had not been making improvements. We focused our assessment on proactive and systematic changes to the manufacturing process. The results were that the two teams of engineers found areas of improvement in communication, board layout, and manufacturing processes. By working together, we helped them cut the workmanship related field issues in half within 6 months.
Comparing Vendors with the Vendor Reliability Program Assessment
Historically the power supplies in a Medical Monitoring device topped the Pareto of field failures. A redesign of the product permitted the selection of a new power supply vendor. The team narrowed the selection to two vendors and both claimed similar reliability performance. A technical reliability assessment of both vendors revealed significant differences in the vendors’ reliability programs. The power supply vendor with well established derating and design guidelines practices, reliability prediction and verification testing practices, and a comprehensive failure analysis capability demonstrated an ability to meet or exceed the stated reliability claims and received the contract.