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38 SMT Magazine • October 2017 itself a relatively new technology, were also quite variable in those days. Materials, howev- er, were the one thing that could not be con- trolled or addressed by industrial engineering practice. The solution, as we would say today, was to "left-shift" the problem into the mate- rial receiving operation. There, materials could be measured and inspected as they were booked into the factory, so as to engender confidence that they would be fit for production and not contribute to assembly line failures. In fact, a great deal of testing also ended up being introduced at many stages in the produc- tion flow, as the final assembly line became the one thing in the factory that must not stop, as it would cause delivery issues to customers. In- creased forms of in-line testing and inspection, including automated methods such as ICT, AOI, etc., became commonplace and continue to be regarded as essential. Segmentation of produc- tion areas, each with associated buffer stock, also became common. The increased cost to manufacturing was quite severe and contribut- ed in no small way to manufacturing moving overseas to areas where the labor needed to per- form all of these enhanced tasks was cheaper. In the wild West, however, action still need- ed to be taken to reduce the costs of test and in- spection as much as possible to keep what lit- tle remained competitive. As far as incoming inspection was concerned, manufacturers start- ed to extend relationships with material suppli- ers to provide guidance on expected quality lev- els and provide help and training in sampling and testing so that suppliers could take owner- ship of the quality of their materials. Once a de- gree of control was established, contracts were put into place with responsibility for material defects to be placed with the supplier, relieving manufacturing progressively of incoming in- spection tasks. The impact on the business of manufacturing was significant, which went be- yond the labor saving. With reliable material quality and supply, buffer stocks could be reduced and handling de- creased. The age of efficient, Kanban and just in time (JIT) material delivery was enabled. Trace- ability was positioned as the police force of the supply-chain, as it could in theory assign re- sponsibility for material defects found in manu- facturing and beyond, back to the material sup- plier. In some cases, this happened successfully for those who took traceability seriously, utiliz- ing the specialist software tools needed for com- plex production processes from multiple ven- dors with huge bills of materials. With relation- ships and trust in place between material sup- pliers and manufacturers, incoming material inspection has become almost redundant, pro- viding significant cost reduction, which has al- ready helped to tip the balance for the on-shore business case for manufacturing. That is, until now. It is discretely known by many key compa- nies in the industry that the incidence of find- ing counterfeit materials in products is rapidly on the rise. They can be re-marked integrated circuits or passive components, even laminates within PCBs. Today's counterfeiters are smart, buying used machinery on the open market for the cleaning, marking and re-packaging of dis- carded, obsolete, life-tested or inferior materi- als. Some of the tampering can be visible to a trained eye; odds are, however, that some can- not. The growth of this issue, it is said, could potentially destabilize trust within the industry. The use of effective traceability throughout the manufacturing process is a key weapon against counterfeit supply, as any instance where a counterfeit material is discovered during inter- nal testing, inspection, or even in a failed prod- uct in the market, can be traced back, without doubt, to the source. Though this insurance is in place, the disruptive effect of counterfeit ma- terials and the loss of confidence in quality has not been addressed, leading to the re-visit of COUNTERFEIT: A QUALITY CONUNDRUM " The solution, as we would say today, was to "left-shift" the problem into the material receiving operation. "

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