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Electronics: An Exercise in Quality Control

Electronics: An Exercise in Quality Control

The customer came to us with an idea for a pollution face mask that linked via Bluetooth to an app on your phone which would show the pollution levels in the air. Grades of filter would be sold separately and the app would tell you when they needed to be changed.

We are not designers. It’s extremely important to make this distinction when dealing with any product, but even more important when dealing with a electronics product. You will need a designer who has the knowledge and experience to design your PCB. While we and the factory can often offer some suggestions the last thing you want to be doing is designing your product on the fly. Ultimately you will need a designer for a project with enough experience to steer you onto the correct course.

Once the design has been finalised we are are more than comfortable taking control of manufacturing process as this is our specialisation.

As with most projects, this project needed us to manage several different manufacturers to ultimately produce one unified, complete product. For this particular project we needed a PCB manufacturer, a mask manufacturer and a packaging factory.

Once we found the right factories to produce the different components we then needed to liaise with each of them to ensure that their different productions were working in unison so that we could assemble the final item in a timely manner.

We have a small warehouse which we used to assemble products and do QC (quality control) on the different components. This had several advantages. We did 100% QC as our staff were assembling the product. Any defects were rooted out during this process and returned to the supplier long before they became a problem to the end client.

It is vital that QC is top of the agenda when making PCBs. The factory must be inspected to check standards are maintained and component checks must be in place to ensure the boards are tested and repaired if faulty.

Preparing the final product QC also meant that we were able to control the packaging of the goods as well. The customer wanted to have an embossed steel tin to hold the facemark and this main – customer facing – packaging was easy enough to make. We made the tooling for an embossed lid and Pantone matched the colours that the customer wanted. As the customer also wanted to make the product “dispatch ready” which meant we put each mask into a simple cardboard box ready for a shipping label to be attached and for the whole package to then be dispatched.

We have often found that bad packaging causes problem when shipping. Damage during shipping can be a major problem. We have marine cargo insurance to cover damage but often this is an all or nothing scenario. Either the whole shipment is damaged or nothing is. However, the reality is that you are likely to lose a handful of products due to dropped cartons or bad forklift drivers! Good packaging will protect you from this type of mishap. Especially if your product is delicate!