Renowned researcher Michael Pecht from CALCE at the University of Maryland shares extensive knowledge about how the real world reacts concerning reliability and product development.

Follow up on the supply chain to ensure product quality

At the Supplier Performance Management (SPM) Association's 50th-anniversary seminar, renowned researcher Michael Pecht from CALCE (Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering) at the University of Maryland shared insights on how the real world reacts concerning reliability and product development.

One central point was the importance of following up on the supply chain to ensure product quality and reliability – a job easier said than done in a world characterised by ever-changing electronic materials and components.

Avoid supply chain failure due to poor quality management of suppliers

Supply chains have become highly complex and are subjected to enormous price pressure, time-to-market pressure tough competition.

Michael Pecht offered several examples of instances where things have gone wrong due to a lack of follow-up combined with ignorance and, in some cases, actual fraud.

CALCE was the first to identify the failure mechanism CAF (Conductive Anodic Filament), blamed for hollowing out glass fibres in PCBs. CAF has led to failures in critical applications such as military, aerospace, medical and automotive equipment. The PCBs were supplied by a company registered in the Cayman Islands, which had more than 20 subcontractors of glass fibre material. Given that each of these subcontractors purchased glass fibres from several different subcontractors, which the PCB supplier neither knew about nor followed up on, things understandably went wrong.

Risk fraud and injuries if you mismanage your supply chain

Some of Michael Pecht's other cases demonstrated instances of outright fraud. Like in the case of a component from a distributor, which was not, in fact, a distributor for the brands advertised on its website. This unoriginal and unapproved component played a part in 174 aeroplane accidents and crashes, tragically resulting in 17 deaths and 39 injuries.

A ceramic capicator case proved to lead to market failures due to capacitance degradation. Investigations showed that rare and expensive earth elements were missing from the ceramic material.

Six ways to severely jeopardise your supply chain

In Michael Pecht's view, inadequate supply chain management can stem from:

  • Companies not adequately taking quality and reliability into account in the construction and management of an efficient and cost-effective supply chain
  • Companies not knowing how to select reliable components
  • Complexity and spread in the supply chain and rapid changes in the product development resulting in poor quality management of suppliers and components
  • Changes carried out without warning, and when notice is given, the customers are not given sufficient information to understand the consequences of the change
  • Significant differences in the risk perception between customer and supplier
  • That project plans and cost optimisation are prioritised higher than reliability

Contact us to find out how we can help make your supply chain more robust, reliable and resource-efficient.