Root Cause Analysis: The Quest for Zero Defects

Posted by: Kerri McConnell

Today automotive OEMs—and by extension, their suppliers—are being held to a standard that demands absolute answers whenever a component or system fails. The safeguards built in and care taken in developing these systems is high and failures are a rare occurrence, only small fractions of a percentage. However, when the cost of failure may be measured in human lives, you need to make sure you know the cause to prevent it from ever happening again. In complex environments like these where an intermittent power variation or one-time bit flip can wreak havoc, such definitive diagnosis can be time-consuming if not impossible to track down. Datalight's long term partnership with leaders in a diversity of demanding environments, have allowed us to developed expertise, features and tools that help isolate and explain anomalies.

Recently, a Tier 1 automotive supplier asked us to help them with root-cause analysis on number of units with apparently random failures. Their hardware component suppliers had examined the returned units and reported that they were performing to spec. Most software suppliers will simple shrug when confronted with a non-reproducible failures such as these. Our data storage experts dug in and due in large part to the instrumentation built into our products, were able to analyze the software details of these systems and categorize the seemingly random issues into groups. These results pointed to things like data bus timing conflicts or isolated the specific cell of flash that failed so that further hardware design investigation could be done. Furthermore, we made the custom tools that we developed to aid this investigation available to our customer so they can continue to examine any new units that might exhibit unexplained failures in the future, saving them time, money and frustration in their quest for zero defects.

Looking for the most reliable data storage solution for your next design? Let us help you find the best combination of hardware and software to meet your needs.

For resource constrained microcontroller systems, consider Reliance Edge
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For managing NAND- or NOR-based storage arrays, consider FlashFX Tera

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