What Is Environmental Stress Screening and Why Is It Important?

September 14, 2022

Think of a time when you were shopping in the fresh produce section at your local grocery store. Before you decide which fruits and vegetables you’re going to buy, you probably touch and feel each item. You might compare them to other items and see which is better. Then, based on the comparison, you identify a select few from the big bunch and choose which ones you want to purchase.  

The same screening process is applied to several sectors. Instead of screening things based on their external appearance, like fruits and vegetables in a grocery store, companies display their products to a number of environmental conditions in simulated test settings to find out potential flaws in the product’s designs or components.  

Now, imagine a world where screening and testing didn’t happen. In many industries where safety and reliability are the main priorities, like the automobile and electronics sectors, PCB assembly in Toronto is an essential step in the manufacturing process. 

When the production stage skips the screening phase, cars and electronics run the risk of becoming defective. In such cases, not only will consumers have problems, but they could get injured in car accidents or get inconvenienced when their mobile devices break down. 

So, how can you avoid defects from happening in the first place? Well, this process is called environmental stress screening (ESS). First, we’ll define what it is, and the phases it goes through. Then, we’ll talk about the benefits of environmental stress screening. 

What is environmental stress screening? 

Environmental stress screening (ESS) is one of the essential manufacturing phases conducted during the design process of electronic systems. This is especially important when electronic systems start getting smaller in size and expand in difficulty to fulfill the needs of customers’ preferences in portable high-quality electronic devices.

The main goal of ESS is to create reliable operational products that include fault-free functioning in a variety of operating environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, vibrations, dust, humidity and rain, and even physical dropping on the ground. 

Based on those ESS conditions, products that are potentially faulty will fail the multiple tests and expose their product weaknesses. This will allow the design team to go back and correct the product’s design. ESS is meant to detect faults during in-house testing within PCB assembly in Toronto because, in the long run, it saves money for the company to correct the product’s design during ESS. On the other hand, skipping ESS may lead to experiencing massive defects in the product and, thus, a product recall from all customers.

What are the phases of creating an environmental stress screening? 

Despite what many people think, every company that conducts ESS doesn’t necessarily improve the reliability of its electronic system. Simply put, ESS serves as a backup test method to minimize any potential defects during the production stage. In order to understand why ESS is important, we need to explain the three stages of creating an ESS program to see its benefits. 

  1. ESS planning: The first step in planning an ESS program is to confirm the equipment that will be undergoing screening, understand base quantitative goals, and give descriptions of the first phase of screening.

  2. ESS implementation: This stage involves the organizational steps that will conduct the screening activity and the Data Collection, Analysis and Corrective Action System (DCACAS) to be utilized for detecting failures.

  3. ESS monitoring: This step monitors the screening process on an ongoing basis to make sure that it is functioning properly, and is technically and financially reliable.

After these three steps are successfully fulfilled, the ESS is ready to screen the product and record the data on its effectiveness and detect any defects that were found. 

Benefits of an Effective ESS Program 

Now that we’ve explained how an environmental stress screening (ESS) program is created, we will discuss the seven benefits that companies rely on to create an effective electronic product.

1. A better economy 

When all electronics undergo an ESS, it’s faster for companies to catch defects, correct them quickly, and have them out on the market for mass consumption. With thousands to millions of units often sold in a short time, this improves the economy. 

2. Less warranty-period requests 

When an electronic device works to its best ability with no hiccups, the company gains a better brand reputation with customers, and there are fewer warranty-period requests along with minimal repair costs. 

3. Help in deciding a product’s warranty period

When one version of a product has fewer warranty-period requests, companies can decide what the next version or next product’s warranty can be. For instance, if they usually give a 2-year warranty, they could reduce it to a 1-year warranty.  

4. Prevent infant-mortality failures

Infant mortality occurs when a product is manufactured and then fails when it’s powered up. Through ESS, however, the product is tweaked in order to prevent future malfunctioning. Eventually, after the second round of ESS occurs, the probability of the first malfunctioning occurring is eliminated.

5. Better quality of manufacturing and overall product 

When ESS is successful, companies can confirm that their manufacturing process is effective. When customers are satisfied with fewer warranty requests, the overall product is better. 

6. Help in planning for spare parts

After ESS is conducted and spots defects, the design team will go back to the drawing board and think of spare parts that the product might need to function properly. They could request PCB assembly in Toronto to build another prototype, and test it based on the product with the defect.

7. Fewer product failures 

With a good product where customers are satisfied, companies experience fewer product failures and spend less money on recalls and paying out warranties. 

Contact Circuits Central for PCB Assembly in Toronto

As you can see, environmental stress screening is important because it gives input to companies during the early stages of product design. Thus, when the item eventually reaches the public, they will likely experience fewer product failures.

If you need assistance with PCB assembly in Toronto, the Circuits Central team is here to help! For a free quote, contact Circuits Central at 1-888- 821-7746 or email us here.  

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