Test and Quality, Creston's Approach to Customer Loyalty

Test and Quality, Creston's Approach to Customer Loyalty

We are proud to be the largest and most recognized brand in automation and control solutions and the premier technology partner for fortune 500 businesses globally. Our products are integrated into new high-tech commercial buildings including some of the most recognized real estate across the globe. Our clients include Google, Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, and many others. We are the leaders in the most exciting industry in the world!

As a technology company in the electronics field industry (design and manufacturing) we are part of a rapidly changing environment due to our nature. Because of its implicit relationship to technology, the processes and techniques needed to design and manufacture electronic devices are in a state of permanent change. Any successful engineer — not only test engineers but process, quality, and others — will need to stay on top of current processes and test technologies in the industry and quickly learn and adapt to this dynamic environment.

One of the reasons why customers prefer Crestron includes trust in the brand. There are multiple ways to build brand confidence, but quality and reliability are the most common. For Crestron to deliver great out-of-the-box experiences requires a significant amount of up-front work — just designing a cool product is not enough. Creating successful and reliable products requires much more than just designing a set of product features. It demands many other considerations, including manufacturability and testability.

 To test or not to test?

The quality of a test solution (which translates into product quality) is directly proportional to its testability. What does testability mean? Our industry has a set of guidelines and principles often called Design for Manufacturability (DFM). In plain and simple terms, this means that any successful design will account for provisions that would facilitate its manufacturing. These considerations are very important because, depending on the case, they will allow production to achieve high-quality yields, reduce waste, increase product throughput, and in general, promote a healthy and stable production environment. There are other “Design For” standards (DFxs), but the most common are:

• DFM - Design for Manufacturability. DFM relates to design provisions that facilitate the fabrication processes, minimize defects, and promote efficiency.

• DFA - Design for Assembly. As the name suggests, this relates to design provisions to facilitate mechanical assembly and avoid product assembly mistakes. Recently it’s been more commonly used for automation, so the designs are created in such a way they can be easily assembled in fully automated (robotic) lines.

• DFT – Design Tor Testability. DFT is a collection of rules and guidelines that are intended to promote electrical accessibility and overall test coverage. It also includes mechanical considerations to facilitate fixturing design and its efficient use in a production line. Some other considerations relate to optical inspections, usually referred to as AOI, and even X-ray testing considerations (aka AXI) to avoid things like the shadowing of solder joins in images when using laminographic X-ray types of machinery.

Any successful test development begins long before we even create a sketch or a draft of a machine or fixture. With DFT being so important for testing, a lot of focus and energy is spent with every single design on the layout phase — and later, the same would apply to mechanical “box” assembly. The structural test team (more commonly known as the PCBA Test team) is among the first groups in the testing process to know of the existence of a new board design. There is a complete and detailed process that facilitates DFT analyses. Any given design will be subject to this “DFT analysis,” and the PCBA Test team would be responsible for providing feedback and work with PCB layout engineers in order to address accessibility or fixturing concerns before a design is made available for “production.” These are some examples of feedback or outputs provided during the DFT phase:

“Any successful engineer — not only test engineers but process, quality, and others — will need to stay on top of current processes and test technologies in the industry and quickly learn and adapt to this dynamic environment.”

In summary, we even think about testing a product or even think about designing a test system, we first need to make sure the design has elements or provisions that would allow the actual product to be tested — in essence, that is what we call “testability.” Even when test engineering isn’t part of the quality department, you can see how important testing is — and a good testing strategy is key to supporting the high-quality standards of our products. Ensuring the product works as expected when the customer pulls a unit out of a box is one of our primary goals.

Manufacturing cycles do not end with testing, as each type of test development has its own Crestron-specific requirements in terms of systems and data collection — all test systems at Crestron collect data for many different purposes. The primary goal is to keep track and control of production activities and test performance with metrics like First Pass Yield and Failure Paretos. Another important goal with test data collection is to have Statistical Process Controls in place for TE activities in support of the complete test process cycle. As of today, we use the data to calculate test limits, test variation, and stability, and in many other cases the data is actively used to investigate and troubleshoot issues with production or in the field with customers.

Ultimately, we have comprehensive test processes that guarantee a pleasant experience when the customer pulls a unit from the box. Furthermore, we are using manufacturing test data to predict potential issues after customers have received their products. In some cases, we will let our customers know about a possible problem before they discover it and give them options to remediate the issue. Depending on the nature of the issue, the fix could be a firmware update, or, worst-case scenario, replacing their unit. Our customers know we are not perfect, and mistakes happen, but we give our best effort to guarantee the delivery of a high-quality product. In the rare case that we do uncover potential issues, we do everything in our control to minimize any impact to our customers.

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