Managing Supplier Quality with Remote Data Monitoring and Alerts

Managing Supplier Quality with Remote Data Monitoring and Alerts



This IntraStage Case Study describes the benefits that were realized by Teradyne’s application and use of the real-time IntraStage Supplier Quality System. Benefits of implementation of the IntraStage solution included faster time to manufacturing, better quality, and lower costs.


When producing highly complex test equipment, Teradyne is no stranger to cost, time and urgency. As a world leader in the automatic test equipment (ATE) market, Teradyne is a leader in the application of thorough, comprehensive test processes and quality control. As part of its commitment to its customers to produce an ATE tester that is free of defects, reliable, and capable, Teradyne’s focus on quality is not only dependent on quality from the manufacturing floor, but also from supplier-sourced components.

Bryan Johnson, a supplier engineering manager at Teradyne, foresaw a problem with their current supplier management: “We proactively worked with suppliers to qualify parts and establish robust control plans.  But, in addition to normal process audits, we needed to assure the control plans at our suppliers were being executed based on real time data collection and analysis.  We were also concerned that processes for our most challenging parts could drift over time, impacting yields and the ability of suppliers to ship the quantity of parts we needed on time.  We needed Statistical Process Control (SPC) deployed for a global supply base that often-lacked knowledge and experience with SPC methodologies and needed a data archive for our most challenging and important component specifications.”


Instead of depending on suppliers to both learn and develop skills in SPC, Bryan and his team started evaluating options for performing what he calls ‘remote data monitoring and alerts’: making sure that the suppliers are capturing critical parametric performance metrics automatically before their product ships out to Teradyne. ‘It was critical that we have a blended model of data input: both manual data entry, and to support existing file outputs by those suppliers with minimal disruption to their processes and productivity. We also wanted to make sure that suppliers could benefit from the system and gather the data that would help them to improve their processes, yield and quality.’

With multiple suppliers, including some suppliers making the same component, security and supplier access to the correct information were also critical.  Data from these processes can remain in silos, which creates obstacles for Teradyne engineers to access, analyze, and use to improve testing processes and product design. Therefore, the Teradyne engineers would have to maintain a complete view of all suppliers’ data and performance. The engineers’ goals were to:

– Minimize quality-based supply chain disruptions to ensure Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing
– Ensure early visibility of supplier quality issues
– Reduce customer recalls and quality issues
– Maintain yields of our most challenging parts


Using a blend of IntraStage’s Paperless Manufacturing product and customer adapters allowed Teradyne to incorporate data from multiple sources. The Paperless Manufacturing forms were customizable via a GUI, which allowed Teradyne engineers to self-serve and develop new forms quickly, and to edit the forms to capture richer metadata from the suppliers. The custom adapters converted source data into the IntraStage cloud-based database, allowing real-time visibility of the test data by both Teradyne and the suppliers. By receiving and being alerted on this data in near real-time, Teradyne and their suppliers could take action on potentially negative emerging trends.


A key output of the data capture was the implementation of Western Electric Rules and Statistical Process Control analytics on the source data. Bryan Johnson’s team was not satisfied if the data were merely passing; they wanted to see if data were starting to develop negative capability indexes based on Cpk and Cp. By keeping an eye on SPC tables giving every parametric measurements’ Cp and Cpk, a quick visual check could easily identify performance. Drilldown into each parametric measurement on Xbar-R and characterization charts could quickly identify useful variables responsible for performance degradation. By identifying emerging trends, corrective actions were taken prior to potentially bad components even being shipped to Teradyne.

Lessons learned

By keeping critical supplier data in an off the shelf IntraStage database, with near real-time alerts and notifications, Teradyne has been able to better work with suppliers to maintain tight quality and time to market. Teradyne is maintaining and growing market share by maintaining brand quality and customer satisfaction with it world-class testing equipment. IntraStage’s BlackBelt manufacturing system gave Teradyne the tools it needed to not only understand where its supplier parts needed additional testing and attention, but detect emerging trends in real time to avoid issues in the first place.


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Learn How You Can Achieve Similar Benefits Using WECO and SPC

Sample IntraStage WECO report

Sample Fictitious Data in an IntraStage WECO report

Implementing Real-time Supplier Quality Control with Paperless Forms

If your components fail in Incoming Inspection, you’ve already lost. You don’t have the components you need to assemble your final product, and there will be a delay until you get a new shipment (and the failed shipment might need to be sent back to the supplier-sometimes halfway across the globe). So how can you reduce your dependence on Incoming Inspection to find flaws in constituent components before they show up at your factory?

Since we work with complex electronics manufacturers, we are well versed in the complex electronic testing regime that occurs at the PCB and final assembly level. One of our customers taught us a valuable lesson about using our Paperless Forms technology to maintain real-time visibility into the quality of their component suppliers.

Instead of performing Final Circuit Tests or Environment Stress Screening on a complex product, our customer’s multiple suppliers were conducting relatively simple lot testing on physical components for a key product. Formerly, these lot tests were performed, the results were written on a clipboard, and the results were filed away.

Any engineer reading the previous paragraph will recognize that data that’s not digitized is data that’s not usable. And if that key data’s not usable, that engineer will have no idea that problems with the performance of the components in question will only become apparent too late to do anything meaningful to prevent bigger issues.

Our Paperless Manufacturing product is completely customizable via an intuitive GUI, and allow operators to enter data into a web-based form designed by our customers. This particular customer rolled out several supplier-facing Forms, and quickly gathered data coming from suppliers for critical (but simple) physical components from around the globe. By catching this data in real-time, our Customer was alerted to potentially negative emerging trends before they created any issue with their product on their manufacturing line.

In today’s world, if you’re reacting to a quality issue, chances are you’re already too late to prevent bigger headaches down the manufacturing line or with dissatisfied customers. If you’re proactively looking at your data and are alerted to progressively negative (but still having a passing status since they were within spec limits) trends, you can fix a broken process before calamity strikes.  And as we all know from the Hawthorne effect, simply setting the expectation that the data and processes are going to be analyzed can improve performance all by itself.

It’s interesting when I ask my new customers which data is still entered on clipboards from both their factory and from their suppliers, and what they currently do with that data. Across the board, there’s a resounding reply that they know they need to digitize the data and make it useful, but they need an easy way to accomplish that.