These days, it is crucial for EMS Providers to be qualified to properly deal with aviation and aerospace PCB applications. In particular, you’ve got to be well armed with AS9100 certification, have RoHS expertise, and be expert at spotting counterfeit components.
AS9100 hands you the assurances of tightly and reliably controlled and repeatable processes, while having a good handle on RoHS ensures OEMs that assembly and manufacturing are fine tuned to produce high quality mixed leaded and lead-free PCBs. AS9100 certification also has some special requirements, some of which are too lengthy to go into in this short space. As far as spotting counterfeit components, the EMS Provider must institute special and disciplined procedures and well-trained people to eliminate those fake devices.
Check out our SMT Magazine article on this subject to get more details.
For a shorter version, here are some key points to keep in mind to assure that you’re moving in the right direction.
- Find out if your EMS Provider has disciplined plans and procedures to assure total quality systems per AS9100
- Does their record-keeping document detailed work performed, equipment used, and personnel performing that work?
- Can they clearly prove critical verification steps at key design and manufacturing stages?
- Look for internal control checkpoint loops that immediately flag inaccuracies.
- Check out whether or not they have a high level of traceability, especially component-level traceability.
- Expertise in locating hard-to-find leaded components is highly important to assure successful hybrid leaded and lead-free aerospace PCBs.
As for eliminating counterfeit components, it’s important for the EMS Provider to have direct links to top of the line chipmakers, and that connection has two benefits to the aviation OEM. First, it eliminates a distributor or middleman who is carrying the product and therefore provides some cost savings. However, more important is the fact the OEM and EMS Provider are getting 100 percent guaranteed ICs directly from the manufacturer, thus virtually eliminating questionable, bad or counterfeit devices.
PCBs designed and manufactured for military and civil aviation systems must possess the highest levels of robustness and high reliability life-cycles. According to the experts, the average defined age for an aircraft is 50 years or more, thus supporting systems and sub-systems must have that extended longevity and associated reliability built-in.