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20 SMT007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2020 Well, folks, it's my time to shine—or, at a minimum, be less dull. This is the reliability issue, and that apparently is my quest, accord- ing to the title of my column. I'm starting to wish my column were titled "Quest to Eat All the Pizza you Want and Not Gain a Pound," but reliability it is. For those who might be new to my column, I work for an independent electronics laboratory that deals with root-cause failure analysis and product qualification of electronic assemblies. That includes all the parts and materials that go into that process. It also means that, on a regular basis, we see failed electronics discov- ered at in-circuit testing all the way to a prod- uct that has been in the field for many years. In a nutshell, I can tell you it is much cheaper to perform product-specific reliability testing before the product goes into the field. If you find out after release that you have to work backward to discover the issue and determine whether everything in the field is at risk of fail- Reliability Starts at the Bottom ure and recall, then you still have to go back and do the testing that should have been done in the first place. The monetary cost of a recall can be more than the project was worth in the first place if you look at repairing or replacing products, and that doesn't even consider the other costs associated with a recall like a pos- sible future business with that customer. The most important factor of your product may possibly be related to something that people need to stay alive. One of the best examples of a recall being detrimental in all aspects is Takata automo- tive airbags. While it was not directly related to what we do in the world of electronic hard- ware, it speaks to the need for extensive reli- ability testing before release. The biggest cost associated with that recall is, of course, the loss of human life, but in the business sense, it cost Takata more than $24 billion and—in the end—the company itself. If the PCBA that controls your pizza oven goes out, the stakes Quest for Reliability Feature Column by Eric Camden, FORESITE INC.

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