Quality and Reliability
To ensure that we produce the most reliable panel-meter products possible, DATEL's five-pronged Quality Assurance Program reaches into every aspect of new-product design, development, characterization, qualification and manufacturing.
Design for Reliability – Our multi-phased, new-product development process employs an approved components/vendors list, strict derating guidelines, worst-case analyses, extensive HALT, and FRACA (Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action).
HALT – We use Highly Accelerated Life Testing extensively during new-product design and prototype phases. Exposing devices to gradually increasing stress levels reveals electrical and mechanical design weaknesses that could possibly result in future field failures.
Characterization and Qualification – Each new product has its electrical performance verified via a comprehensive characterization process. Its long-term reliability is confirmed by a rigorous qualification procedure that includes such strenuous tests as thermal shock and 500 hour life.
In-Line Process Controls and Screening – A combination of statistical sampling and 100% inspections keeps our assembly line under constant control. Parameters such as solder-paste thickness, component placement, cleanliness, etc. are statistically sampled, charted and fine tuned as necessary.
Rapid Response to Problems – Our outstanding corrective-action system immediately addresses any detected shortcomings in products or processes. Whenever our assembly, quality or engineering personnel detect a product/process problem, we immediately perform detailed failure analysis and, if necessary, institute corrective actions.
The QC Engineer who instituted DATEL's new Design-for-Reliability Program recently performed routine HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) on a randomly selected digital meter . . . and the device "passed." Devices are not supposed to "pass" HALT. The intent of HALT is to "reveal latent defects or design weaknesses that may eventually cause field failures" by subjecting devices to progressively higher stress levels until something "breaks."
The Engineer decided to see how much it would take to make a second meter succumb. With the maximum applied input voltage, the meter (mounted in a metal panel using a DATEL bezel assembly) was subjected to the following: operating case-temperature extremes of +145°C and –75°C; nonoperating cold soak at –75°C (after which the meter turned on successfully); three temperature cycles (–65 to +125°C) at a transition rate of 30°C per minute; 15 minutes of 3-axis random longitudinal and rotational vibration at 10 to 15G's; a temperature spike down to –65°C; and then more vibration.
During the second vibration, the meter pulled away from the plastic bezel (which had melted during the +145°C temperature extreme), and one segment of one LED digit went blank. Upon troubleshooting, the Engineer discovered all meter electronics, including the drive circuit to the failed LED segment, were working fine. The failure was in the display itself. The Engineer's report gave the device a "conditional pass" pending failure analysis of the LED.
Now you know why we confidently specify our digital panel meters with an operating temperature range of 0 to +60°C and boast about their rugged, vibration and moisture-resistant, epoxy-encapsulated packages.