Pushing defect levels out another digit

Automakers already set some of the most stringent reliability requirements for any high volume production, but they’re striving to move to even lower defect levels. The changes are coming as the growth of electronics content continues to rise.
The auto industry doesn’t have quite the reliability demands seen in the aircraft industry, but their high volume requirements remove much of the redundancy that helps keep airplanes aloft. Automotive designers will make a major effort to trim a nickel from a system design, so duplicating parts to ensure fail safe operation is an option used only when it’s absolutely necessary.
At the Convergence automotive electronics show earlier this month, key executives said that a reduction in hardware failures will be expected in coming years. Semiconductor suppliers have already pushed their defect rates into the low single digits of the ppm range.
More complex systems are being adopted as more safety features are required and electronics drive the push to reduce fuel consumption. As more chips enter the vehicle, there are more opportunities for one of them to fail during the decade or so that most cars last. The ppm measurement will fade in the coming decade.
“When you look at the complexity of today’s systems, you have to go to 0 parts per billion quality levels,” said Michael Würtenberger, vice president for ConnectedDrive Infotainment at BMW.
The German luxury carmaker has tighter requirements than mainstream vehicle makers. But they aren’t that much different. Many recalls this year stemmed from electronics failures, including circuit boards. At sessions throughout the conference, automakers sounded serious about pushing quality to the next level.

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