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forced and all weak links of the product can be found where they are the least expensive to correct: while still under initial design or before release to the market. With the latent warranty issues discovered early, a much more durable and robust product can be produced, resulting in products that last much longer in the marketplace, thereby reducing warranty expenses.


“It’s all about efficiency: how much time, footprint, headcount and manufacturing resources you have to devote to product screening.”


Tis testing, as it is accelerated, produces results in hours


or days, which reduces product development cycles and more importantly reduces time to market. Tis results in efficiency gains in product testing, and improvements in reliability, allowing manufacturers not only to take an axe to product development costs and warranty claims, but to quickly grow corporate brand loyalty through improved product reliability. “It’s all about efficiency: how much time, footprint,


headcount and manufacturing resources you have to devote to product screening,” said Larry Choate, vice president of Ensign Power Systems Inc. (Loveland, CO), a manufacturer of mission-critical military, medical and industrial power supplies. Established in 1995, Ensign’s products include high- and low-voltage uninterruptible power supplies, AC-DC converters, and DC-DC converters. “Instead of taking 48 hours to test a product, we use an


accelerated testing system to accomplish the task in less than five hours, a greater than 200% improvement in efficiency,” said Choate.


Reliability: The Real Bottom Line For any manufacturer, the only way to continue to sell


products is to have them perform well in the marketplace as well as the battlefield. Repeat business and word of mouth all depend on this alone. And for Ensign, reliability is literally life or death. “Over 3000 of our power supplies do duty in the military’s


Bradley personnel carriers,” said Choate. “All of them are in Afghanistan and Iraq, and not one has failed on the battlefield.” “It comes down to: how much do you care about the reli-


ability of your product,” he said. “In a critical marketplace we want to make sure we ship the most reliable product we know how, and the Qualmark system is the best tool we have found for doing that.” Qualmark (Denver) is a manufacturer of advanced acceler- ated testing systems for testing product reliability that also


provides comprehensive testing support, professional services and a global network of testing labs. By virtue of conducting more than 5000 tests within its


own lab facilities, and installing and maintaining over 1000 testing systems in 30 countries, Qualmark has earned the position as a market and innovation leader in accelerated testing methods.


Accelerated Testing = Accelerated Profits Within an extremely broad range of industries including elec- tronics, medical devices, automotive, military and aerospace, every product that contains a microprocessor, circuit card or electromechanical assembly can benefit from accelerated test methods.


With the significant monetary gains to be had by reduc-


ing warranty expenses for these products, C-level man- agement is increasingly becoming attuned to accelerated methodology and new standards, such as Six Sigma, KPI and prognostics as well as others for product development and process control. In fact, new trends in manufacturing demand accelerated testing procedures—multilayer boards, surface-mount technology, lead-free solder—not to mention the ever-changing component quality from suppliers that can’t always be detected using old-school product testing methodologies. “Te Qualmark systems are optimized for finding such


faults,” Choate said. “We tell our customers, ‘You really need to do this because it really does make a difference’.” One advanced technology from Qualmark, QFusion,


combines the ability to perform several testing stages within a single system—speeding time to delivery, cutting production and product testing costs dramatically and most significantly resulting in reduced warranty costs. With the company’s Proof of Concept service, they work


with an organization to prove the monetary benefit of proac- tively reducing warranty claims reduction. Tey will also put their projected results to the test with their risk-sharing plan, where they share in the risks and rewards of warranty savings by implementing their systems. “A CEO would want to know, ‘Does this make me


money?’” said Choate. “Te answer is yes. Remember, the biggest expense you can incur is to have your product fail in the field. It not only bloats your warranty costs, but also yields unhappy customers.” As just one example of the effectiveness of these testing


systems, one of Qualmark’s customers, a major aerospace company, took its annual warranty costs from $27 million to $9 million over a period of six years through increased imple- mentation of Qualmark systems.


Edited by Yearbook Editor James D. Sawyer from material provided by Qualmark.


Energy Manufacturing 2014 47


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