Photo: Henrik Hemrin

Before a component (or module, board etc) can be released, it needs to undergo testing. Some tests can be required by regulations or customers, some are done to verify the performance or yield level. And more. Some tests are "characterization" and some are simulating aging and other aspects that can be expected over desired life time.

As example: for optical components is Telcordia standards (formerly Bellcore) more or less the de facto standard to use in telecommunication. The most known is GR-468-CORE, for optoelectronic devices such as optical transceivers.

The standard gives a list of tests to be done in the qualification work. This is a kind of minimum tests to be considered. But other tests may be needed: the technology may be different and need other tests, the use case/condition can be different etc. It must always be a reviewed if the standard tests are relevant case by case.

Testing consumes time and money. Therefore all tests, the minimum list as well as additional tests, may not be needed to be done on the specific component. Because it has already been tested on a component built on same platform, with same technology etcetera.

A test can be omitted and seen as approved based on similarity. The expert, the person who takes this decision, must in the test report give the arguments why similarity apply.

Welcome to share your thoughts on my article!

Henrik Hemrin

1 October 2017

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Dial on a telephone. Photo: Henrik Hemrin

 

I had a summer job at Televerket, the Swedish PTT. Summer 1982. At that time a telephone typically had a dial like the one on the photo. And owned by Televerket, you could not own one yourself.

It happened that customer claimed the phone bill was too high; "I have absolutely not made so many phone calls!"

Televerket had a machine, I recall it was a wooden box approx. 30x40x10 cm including a printer typing e.g. phone number and time. I haven't find a photo of the machine, happy if you can find one.

The machine was connected to the subscriber who claimed for a period, maybe a few weeks. The machine logged all calls. Then they could compare how much calls were made now and compare with the calls on the bills.

By that, Televerket had facts if the bill was reasonable or not. Not facts of the actual period, but the current facts helped to make a reasonable assumption of bills were correct or not. The result could be presented for the subscriber.

As I recall (I do not have facts on this), my more experienced colleagues at Televerket said the bill was normally correct. They said that one scenario was that other person in family had made calls the bill payer was not aware of. And this could lead to unpleasant disputes in the family.

Back at this time, there was no Caller ID for a subscriber available. The subscriber didn't have access to the facts.

Facts is not the only base for decisions. But indeed facts can help and be essential for the right decision, or to avoid the wrong decision.

Henrik Hemrin

24 September 2017

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An old FM radio represents the engineering processes discussed in this article. Photo: Henrik Hemrin.

”The process must be updated”, is a common action requirement in a Root Cause Analysis (RCA).

And yes, it is relevant to review and possibly also update the process.

But it is also easy to unjustly blame the process for the problem.

It must always be considered what and to which extent the details should be stated in the process.

Some processes can and must be very detailed and precise, let say the manufacturing steps of an electronic IC circuit.

Other processes, like a process to develop an electronic equipment, cannot be detailed as as much as the manufacturing process above.

An engineering process requires a person with engineering knowledge to execute it. The process must be written so general it can be reused for next similar but not identical cases. The process has to balance between a general and detailed level.

In addition to what is written in the process, Common sense must be used to make the process working. The Common sense is based on reflection and thinking each time the process is used, on education, experience, collaboration and so on.

Common sense – an important addition to the written process

 

Henrik Hemrin

11 September 2017

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Henrik Hemrin shows the Ericsson publication discussed in the article. Photo: Henrik Hemrin

The publication I hold in my hand was written by Per-Olof Harris at Ericsson about the same time as I joined Ericsson 1985. Its core message is as valid today as then.

The publication is about reliability assurance of electronic components, but has a general validity:

Reliability; to assure the product will work over its entire desirable life time with an acceptable failure rate, is important to consider at product development.

And, although redundancy can be built in, no part of the product must not be forgotten if the complete product should work. Also the more "boring" or "simple" parts can be the reason for the total fail.

The title is excellent for remembering the importance of reliability:

No system is stronger than its weakest component

 

Henrik Hemrin

15 June 2017

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Software example. The code has no connection to the issue. Snapshot from w3schools.com.

In software coding every sign, or lack of, can make the difference between a working or non working software.

Today I installed the latest release of Joomla! Content Management System (CMS) along with a few new Extension releases, for a web site.

After the updates, I directly opened the web site for sanity check. The full web site was down... fatal error... just a page with the error message!

However, this trouble had a happy end - here is the success story steps:

  • I had a log of the new releases I had implemented
  • Sanity check direct after release to detect the issue
  • Thanks to the error message I could search on internet and I got a hint which Extension that may have caused the issue
  • In the Admin tool I disabled this extension. After this, the web site was fully functional again, except for the features from this Extension. If I enabled, the web site was down again. The trouble maker was narrowed down
  • I sent a Tweet directed to the Extension developer somewhere on the earth, including the error message
  • I got a Tweet back from Extension developer there now was a new release with the fix
  • I went back to the Admin tool, installed the new release and enabled the Extension again
  • Now the web site was fully operational again!
  • I sent a confirmation Tweet to Extension developer
  • Before the update, I did a back up of the web site. I didn't need to use it this time, but always good to have a backup not too far back in time

The whole work from sanity check failure to fully operational web site took less than an hour.

 

Henrik Hemrin

23 May 2017

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Cactus. Photo: Henrik Hemrin

I listened to a radio interview today. They talked about "...we who have creative jobs...".

I try to think of a job which does not include or gain of any creativity. My examples are:

?
Do you have any example?

 

Henrik Hemrin

22 May 2017

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Photo: Henrik Hemrin

1973 Volvo acquired JOFA. JOFA was a company making sports equipment and famous for its ice hockey helmets. 1983 Volvo acquired Beijer invest, which held companies like Abba fishery food. Volvo sold those business and then focus (again) on e.g. vehicles, engines and construction equipment. Later Volvo have also been divided into one company for cars and one for the other parts, but that is maybe a different story.

I find it interesting to compare company models. Here I look into two models: focus and narrow business with a common core and considering synergies, in comparison to conglomerates which diversify business where the business areas may not have anything in common.

Volvo has left the conglomerate model I wrote about above into a much more focused business.

I recently read the leadership book The Virgin Way by Richard Branson. Well worth to read for anyone interested in leadership.

Virgin is still in the conglomerate company model. Although there are some synergies, Virgin business is not hold together by a common business core.

Virgin, as my understanding, has a common culture and way to approach business in common rather than a common core product or technology.

With a more focused company model it is easier for the board to take decisions, for owners to understand the company. Conglomerates likely requires multiple boards and to delegate of more strategic decisions.

This article is about innovation climate in relation to company model.

For very many, if not for all commercial companies, innovations in one way or another are needed for company survival. Magnus Mackaldener has written the good article When you don't recognize the company you once chose about innovations.

As a human being you get all sort of ideas and innovations, and you get them not at least at work. Many of them will surely not work or make business sense, and for many of them you will not know until you have given them a try. It can surely be beneficial if this review or trial can be done within the company rather than the creator has to do it outside the company.

My thesis is that a too narrow and focused company model can limit innovation and business opportunities for the company. If the company is too concerned to consider if the new idea is within the company strategy or not, I believe it can also limit the innovations which actually are within the strategy. In this perspective, I believe a conglomerate company model can have an advantage to foster innovations.

Henrik Hemrin

4 May 2017

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