July 1, 2008
At Their Fingertips
Software monitors and charts product quality data in real-time
View article online
With annual sales of $21.9 billion, Raytheon Co., a company dealing with defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft, didn't get to be an industry leader by accident.
In its mission for a quality control process that had to be precise and accurate, Raytheon turned to software for real-time data collection and analysis. The company is using InfinityQS' real-time Statistical Process Control (SPC) Software to improve product quality by identifying areas that need improvement.
Competition is driving companies to innovate, especially to produce higher quality products at a low cost. Quality issues resulting in scrap or rework, and production inefficiencies such as over-inspection, manual data collection and/or incapable machines, create unique challenges for manufacturers looking to maximize production capabilities.
Raytheon's Vision, Strategy, Goals and Values are the foundation of the company, as is a commitment for strategic growth, establishing an inclusive culture, improving productivity, and providing customers with Mission Systems Integration, Mission Support and Mission Assurance for each product and servicer.
Overcoming complex challenges requires solutions that interact with existing infrastructures while offering the scalability to grow with business needs, a low cost, and high ROI.
Raytheon required powerful, feature-rich analytics software to enable real-time process management as silicon wafers were produced with highly precise specifications.
With real-time SPC software, operators on the plant floor collect measurements from products as they are being produced. The software then plots this data on a graph or a series of graphs so that quality inspectors can determine if the process is performing within an acceptable statistical range.
To gain a competitive advantage, companies today are employing continuous improvement activities that contribute to manufacturing excellence by monitoring the variation that naturally occurs in manufacturing processes (or machines), as well as the processes themselves.
Because Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other mission support services to the defense industry, it is vital for the company to achieve the highest standards of quality. Raytheon's culture encourages the development of innovative process improvements that create value for customers.
The company requires 100 percent accuracy with its products, and to meet this specification, it required that all the software in the manufacturing line be compatible.
SPC is a widely used statistical method for quantifying process characteristics, pointing to areas where process improvement can be made.
"Due to the precise specifications of our silicon wafers, accuracy is important and the ability to have quality information at our fingertips in real-time was a key aspect in the selection of InfinityQS' SPC software," says David Liu, quality engineer at Raytheon.
An industry-standard methodology for measuring and controlling quality during the manufacturing process, real-time SPC identifies quality issues before defects are created.
"Accurate, correctly calculated control limits can help manufacturers reduce costs, improve quality, and increase customer retention," says Douglas C. Fair, industrial statistician and vice president of statistical applications at InfinityQS International. "Through their proper use, control limits can mean a big difference in terms of product quality and costs."
SPC software's prime objectives are to provide information about production processes in real-time. Successful real-time SPC initiatives require that measurement data be accurate and collected in a timely manner. Various gaging devices must be used to ensure that a specific measurement is taken and recorded. SPC software systems collect and store this data, analyze it and create graphs instantaneously.
Each new data point offers an opportunity to make a process change or do nothing. Effective real-time SPC software should be able to provide alerts when process changes are necessary.
With real-time SPC software, operators on the plant floor collect attribute data (measurements) from products as they are being produced. The software then plots this data on a graph or a series of graphs so that quality professionals can determine if the process is performing within an acceptable statistical range.
This accepted range, defined by upper and lower "control limits," allows quality professionals to pinpoint exactly which processes (machines) need to be adjusted to prevent the product from having defects.
Raytheon conducted a comprehensive analysis of InfinityQS SPC software to ensure that the system met the requirements of its quality engineers. InfinityQS' open platform allowed for a seamless integration across the facility's entire manufacturing line, ensuring accurate, real-time data.
"Raytheon came to us with clear specifications deemed necessary for its plants," says Michael A. Lyle, president and CEO of InfinityQS. "Quality is a key component of wafer technology, and Raytheon concluded that our SPC software solution met their high standards. "
Using InfinityQS software, Raytheon is able to chart and monitor variations lot-to-lot, wafer-to-wafer, and die-to-die within wafers.
"My engineers learned to navigate and use the software very easily because of its intuitive design and functionality," Liu says. "The security of the software, one of our major concerns when searching for an SPC solution, has exceeded our expectations."
Raytheon continues to benefit from the software's depth of functionality, such as its integration capabilities, security features, and wide variety of charting options, he adds.