What is Quality 4.0 and How Does it Impact Industrial PCB Development?

One interesting thing about history is that it is unavoidable. If you are alive then you are a part of it whether you want to be or not. Participation is not required for historical events to have an impact on you. The only choice you do have is to embrace them and perhaps gain from them or not to and maybe suffer for it. Currently, we are well into a historic revolution in industrial production, namely Industry 4.0. And it impacts your PCB development whether you want it to or not.

As more and more smart factories have chosen to embrace Industry 4.0, the question of how best to leverage the associated concepts and tools; such as IoT, robotics, and advanced manufacturing, arises. One philosophy that is gaining traction as a means of maximizing the production of goods is to adopt a more comprehensive approach, known as Quality 4.0. This approach is similar to what is done in the aerospace and medical devices industries. For these industries, standards have been instituted that ensure the entire supply chain meets specified quality guidelines. These standards, AS9100D for aerospace and ISO 13485 for medical devices, place the onus for quality assurance on the product developers, which are the factories for industrial production.

In order to meet the quality standards for aerospace and medical devices, requirements are also placed on the suppliers of components and devices to the developers. The parallel for this is to include the design and manufacturing of industrial PCBs and systems that enable industrial production. Prior to looking at how this approach impacts your development of industrial boards, let’s definitively answer the question: What is Quality 4.0?

What is Quality 4.0?

As you have probably already guessed, Quality 4.0 is related to Industry 4.0. Actually, it is more than related, it is motivated by it. Industry 4.0 is the latest transformation in the way products are made that emphasizes data control and management. Optimizing the processes and methods for acquiring, processing, and disseminating data are at the heart of smart production operations. This ranges from the industrial encoders, which monitor and control machinery and equipment, to the industrial IoT systems, which transfer data to other in-house systems, to the computing systems that communicate with on-site managers and even other external facilities.

The best way to understand Quality 4.0 is by looking at the premises or axes upon which it is based contrasted with traditional quality approaches. As defined by LNS Research in [1], these are listed below.

The 11 Axes of Quality 4.0

Traditional vs Quality 4.0 Emphasis
Focus Axes Traditional Method Quality 4.0 Enhancement
Data Fragmented, slow and low to medium volume data acquisition with low veracity Connected, high velocity and high volume data acquisition for high veracity and transparency
Analytics Traditional metrics (i.e. trend analysis) Application of big data or machine intelligence (MI) for data analysis
Connectivity Separate IT and OT Connecting IT and OT
Collaboration Mostly internal and isolated from suppliers and customers Incorporating a blockchain that includes all shareholders (i.e. suppliers, manufacturers, management, customers, etc.)
App Development Web and phone-based for users Role-based to include suppliers, operations and users for more relevance for the user
Scalability Limited, isolated and on-site Unlimited, connected and cloud-based
Management Systems Software-based process automation Connecting automated processes and automating their interaction
Compliance Custom electronic data management (EDM), business process management (BPM), data transfer and compliance services Connected, automated and configurable EDM, BPM, data transfer and compliance services
Culture Emphasizing cross-functionality to institute a culture of quality Empowering individuals with responsibility and transparent, connected access to establish a culture of quality
Leadership Objective aligned Extending to executive ownership and establishing quality KPI
Competency Based on individual expertise and experiences Prioritize training and share experiences to improve expertise

At first glance, the list above may seem broad. As Quality 4.0 does touch a number of operational and managerial areas, they are all interconnected by the objective to establish a level of industrial production quality that is consistent with the goals of industry 4.0. And for factories to realize this objective requires that the developers of their systems, devices, and PCBAs are onboard.

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Building PCBAs to Meet the Requirements of Quality 4.0

The overriding goal of Industry 4.0 is to manufacture products more efficiently. This objective has not changed since the inception of industrial production. What has changed are the philosophies, principles, techniques, and tools that are available. Today, the most advanced manufacturing strategies are focused on maximal utilization of the data acquisition, processing, and distribution capabilities afforded by IoT. Additionally, the importance of transparency, collaboration, and quality ownership by all members of the supply chain is necessary. For developing industrial boards this means incorporating the following essentials into the process.

The Keys to Quality 4.0 Industrial PCBA Development

  • Auditable Development

The development process should be open and transparent. This means a white box approach should be instituted for design and manufacturing that lends itself to an industrial forensics review, where each stage of development beginning with R&D is documented and available for analytical evaluation.

  • Traceable Components

The ability to trace all components back to their manufacturer is essential. This not only serves to promote the use of high-quality components from well-established suppliers but also reduces the probability for counterfeits that may not meet performance objectives.

  • Automated Data Transfer

Data automation is one of the basic tenets of not only Quality 4.0, but IoT itself. Therefore, methods to reliably transfer data and information between shareholders should be established and utilized. These must include effective cybersecurity measures.

Quality 4.0 is a raising of the bar for industrial production. To implement this advanced approach to quality requires that the factory makes a commitment to optimizing their operations by utilizing advanced technologies that are leveraged for IIoT. The best implementation of this strategy requires collaboration with suppliers and developers of the systems used to make their products.

Tempo's Industry 4.0 Custom PCB Manufacturing Services
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600 and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Agile manufacturing process to support risk management.
  • Accurate quote in less than a day.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Entire turnkey PCB manufacturing in as fast as 3 days.
  • High precision, complex PCB fabrication and assembly capabilities.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry to reduce procurement time and help with component security.
  • Specialization in fast prototyping and low-volume production.
  • Standard quality testing; including X-ray and inline AOI.
  • Advanced QC testing; including flying probe, time domain reflectometry and ROSE.

At Tempo Automation, we incorporate a culture of collaboration and transparency that will aid you in meeting the needs for Quality 4.0 industrial board development.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on quality 4.0 and its impact on your board development, contact us.

[1] Jacob, Dan. Quality 4.0 Impact and Strategy Handbook. Cambridge, MA: LNS Research, 2017.

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