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Mission-Critical Manufacturing:
Cogiscan's TTC Platform for Defense Electronics

March 5th, 2024
By Cogiscan's Experts
defense electronics pcba circuit board cogiscan ttc


Given the mission critical nature of aerospace and defense electronics manufacturing, it is imperative to implement stringent quality control measures that adhere to AS9100 standards, ensure meticulous traceability and maintain long-term data retention, while also fostering a culture of continuous improvements. For over two decades, Cogiscan's Track, Trace & Control Platform (TTC Platform) has been integral to electronics manufacturers in this sector – by helping to fulfil the rigorous demands of assembling these high-reliability products while simultaneously helping to enhance the efficiency of the overall manufacturing process.

This article explores how Cogiscan's comprehensive tracking and precise control over materials, processes, and products are tailor-made to meet the unique needs of the aerospace and defense industry.

Preventing Defects with Material Control

Some of Cogiscan’s earliest customers were manufacturers in the defense industry –specifically focused on mitigating risks related to moisture sensitive devices (MSDs) throughout the production process. With the numerous variables involved in controlling MSDs, if not properly managed, this area is rife with opportunity to cause field failures and unexpected long-term defects. As the first company to develop an automated solution, Cogiscan offers a robust and error-proof application to manage and control MSDs to ensure they don’t get accidentally used in production. Even if someone makes a mistake and an expired MSD gets loaded on the line, this system will stop the line to ensure the risky MSD doesn’t get placed on the PCB.

Manufacturers that cater to the defense industry simply cannot allow defective components to end up in their PCBAs. Therefore, another popular option with aerospace and defense customers is incorporating the LCR module at receiving inspection to validate that all passive components meet spec. Given the risks of counterfeit materials, and even accidental supply chain errors, Cogiscan’s LCR module validates that inductance, capacitance, and resistance are within the tolerances specified for those parts – making sure they stay out of inventory and don’t spoil the rest of the assembly process.
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MSDs aren’t the only variables in electronics assembly limited by time-sensitive constraints. Other materials like solder paste and conformal coating epoxy have a limited shelf life and if used past expiration, or exposed to ambient conditions for too long, can have a dramatic impact on the quality and reliability of the final PCBA. Built into the Cogiscan TTC Platform, manufacturers using the Time Sensitive Material Control module will be alerted to replace solder paste after a pre-defined number of cycles or given period of time. If that alert gets ignored, and those expired materials get back into production, the TTC Platform will stop the line.

In addition to protecting the quality of units produced, Cogiscan’s Material Control application can also help better manage costly inventory. Having too much money strapped in inventory impacts the bottom line, and no one wants that. This is especially true for aerospace and defense manufacturers as the components used in those products can be incredibly expensive. Cogiscan’s module offers real-time inventory tracking including the exact location, quantity, and status of all material throughout the factory (including components currently in production). It also integrates directly with ERP, MOM, MES, and other external software systems.

Fine tuning machine setup

Beyond managing the control and tracking of materials (components and consumables), it’s equally important for aerospace and defense manufacturers to accurately control and error-proof the setup of all machines and processes used for production. Supported both online and offline, Cogiscan’s Setup Control module manages every assembly step – ensuring that specific process parameters, such as temperature, soldering time, and pressure, are within the required threshold for every production run. As with Material Control, the Cogiscan system will interlock the line if any parameters fall outside the acceptable specifications. Our Setup Control module also helps to standardize the setup process – all validation tasks are performed in the same interface, regardless of the machine type and/or brand. In an industry with such a diverse machine ecosystem, standardization can make a big difference.
defense electronics pcba circuit board cogiscan ttc chips on a pcb

Robust, reliable & thorough traceability

To meet AS9100 certification requirements, electronics manufacturers must maintain comprehensive records of all processes, materials, and components used in the production of aerospace electronics. This includes traceability of components back to their original sources and documentation of any deviations or non-conformities encountered during manufacturing.

Cogiscan’s 360° Traceability application tracks every single element of the manufacturing process – this includes who touched the product and when it was in process, what operations it went through and how those processes transpired, which materials were used, and where they came from. Some aerospace customers will not only specify the specification requirements for the final product but will also mandate nuances of the assembly process.
defense electronics pcba circuit board cogiscan ttc traceability reports
For example, instead of trusting that the manufacturer will meet the reflow oven profiling requirements for the PCBA, these OEMs will specify the required temperatures at each zone within the reflow oven and even require traceability documentation proving those requirements were met for every unit built. This is because any deviation from specified process parameters could potentially impact the quality and dependability of the electronic components or systems… a risk they simply cannot take.

Continuous improvements for better quality performance

There is absolutely no room for malfunctioning units in the field, so aerospace and defense OEMs need proof that their chosen contract manufacturer is fully committed to monitoring quality performance and engaging in ongoing quality improvements. Beyond meeting the requirements spelled out in the AS9100 certification, electronics manufacturers building for this industry must be able to demonstrate a system that tracks metrics, monitors performance, and drives corrective actions for ongoing quality improvements.

One way to effectively demonstrate this is through an analytics platform that provides overall visibility on what’s happening in real-time and what happened historically to improve for the future. With rich data analyses, these tools can guide manufacturers on how to run a more efficient and robust operation. Showcasing a commitment to a rigorous quality program, and investigating any negative trends, even minor ones, in quality performance illustrates a full commitment to a zero-defect manufacturing process… music to the ears of aerospace and defense OEMs.

Get it right each & every time

It’s absolutely paramount that high-reliability products for the aerospace and defense sector, like unmanned systems, are assembled to the highest quality standards. A failure in these products can have catastrophic effects. With all the variables involved in the electronics assembly process, it’s clear that these manufacturers need to place extra attention to controlling all aspects of production. With Cogiscan’s TTC Platform, electronics manufacturers are able to go far beyond basic requirements and ensure they’re doing everything possible to prevent defects in these critical products.
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