SIlversphere's Philosophy on Acceptable Failure Rates

Posted by Mike Boone

March 16, 2017 2:43:16 PM EDT

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This month we catch up with our Director of Manufacturing, Mike Boone. Mike oversees the physical development of our technologies and products here at Silversphere. All of our technologies are manufactured here at our location in Daytona Beach. This month he talks about something no company likes to talk about: acceptable failure rates.

In the world of manufacturing, there is always what is known as the "acceptable failure rate." It is something all engineers and manufactures have to take into consideration when developing and producing a product. It is defined as the frequency with which an engineered system or component fails, expressed in failures per unit of time. Acceptable failure rates depend solely on the industry and product. Depending what industry you are manufacturing for, it could be as high as 3 out of every 100 or as low as 1 out of every 1,000,000.

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Silversphere's company initiative and the senior technology industry operates under a set of perimeters that I take extremely personal. Our acceptable failure rate is simply zero. We as a company have devised test procedures that exceed the norm and often are incredibly redundant to ensure all failures stay in-house.

While I would love to say that our tests are all inclusive and prevent all future failures, we sometimes encounter an occurrence where a failure does, in fact, leave the building. In these rare cases, we have a team of industry experts known as the zero-D team that evaluates what caused the failure and then implements a strategy to catch these from happening in the future. Sometimes that means extra steps in our testing or in some cases choosing different components to make our product.

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While some may think that catching failures from leaving the Silversphere's manufacturing plant is the end goal, it is not. We ultimately want to keep breakdowns from happening at all, even in the testing phase.

For example, electrical components can be damaged or corrupted in many ways. One of the leading causes of failure for these elements is by static electricity. A few years ago I implemented a plan to remove all ESD (also known as electrostatic discharge) from our factory. We started by waxing the floor with special ESD resistant wax. We then bought all new workbenches that do not transmit electrostatic discharge. Now, we require all assemblers and testers to wear shoe straps, wrist straps, and smocks all to ensure no static transfers from them to the boards.

Similarly, components can also be damaged by moisture, so we bought a humidity-controlled cabinet. This cabinet keeps sensitive parts dry and free of moisture that can damage them when placed in the high temperature of our reflow oven.

Staying ahead of the causes of failures is a never ending, daily battle for manufacturers. Technology advances all the time and with that comes new challenges. I tour other companies' factories every year and talk to head engineers to discuss problems they face and learn how they overcome. My personal goal is to keep learning and educating myself to ensure Silversphere produces a reliable product that our customers can have faith putting in their senior living communities.


Topics: product, Manufacturing

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