Quality Management System

Quality Management System

Quality is an investment, not a cost. This applies to our customers as well as to us. A well-established quality management system (QMS) allows us to systematically control all quality-related processes and thus to ensure the right quality of our products and services. Based on this foundation, we are able to make the most of our know-how and create value for our customers. Trustful and honest collaboration allows us to translate feedback into improvement and thereby achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction.

The main characteristics of our QMS

  • Clearly defined management structures, adherent processes and strategic initiatives
  • Top-down flow of strategy definition and target deployment
  • Bottom-up flow of target achievement and reporting
  • Dedicated measures to continuously keep quality awareness on a high level
  • Silicongear fulfills international quality management standard such as ISO 9001
  • Qualification and reliability

    We aspire to always keep our commitments and to deliver the required quality. This is why our products undergo a dedicated qualification process. This process verifies the functionality, reliability and manufacturability of our products. It also ensures that the products are suitable for subsequent processing by our customer.

    We therefore follow a holistic approach: the focus is not only on the product itself; the specific requirements of its later operating environment are also taken into account. Related software and firmware is also included in the process.

    Technology & product qualification

    The related wafer technology and package technology are qualified prior to product qualification. This step includes detailed investigations of specific failure mechanisms. The procedure is further characterized by early identification of our customers’ needs; potential future market developments are also considered. Detailed reliability testing during the entire development phase of wafer and package technologies guarantees built-in quality for our products.

    The product qualification proves the reliability of the final product, including chip, package and chip / package interaction and design.

    All qualification tests are performed according to international standards such as JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) MIL (Military Standard) .

  • Continuous improvement

    Aspiration towards continuous improvement is deeply anchored in our company culture. It enhances the performance of our products, processes and services in terms of quality and stability.

    Our method to support continuous improvement and problem solving and enriched with 8D tools and Lean methods to improve the quality and efficiency of our business processes.

    Internal improvement activities

    Company-wide strategic initiatives help us improve in the areas of quality, research & development, sales & marketing and productivity.

    We support our employees throughout all regions and functions to submit improvement proposals. Since our employees know their specific areas of responsibility best, this is an expedient way to improve our approach in many different working areas such as product quality, process simplification, environmental protection and increasing performance.

  • Supplier quality management

    In order for us to be a quality leader, our suppliers have to fulfill a high level of quality expectations as well. Silicongear follows Total Supplier Management principles to ensure that all kinds of suppliers (suppliers of material, equipment and spare parts, silicon foundry, outsourced assembly and test manufacturing services) are in line with Silicongear’s requirements and expectations with respect to functionality, on-time delivery and quality.

    Supplier phase-in and qualification management

    During the supplier selection process, a supplier undergoes a detailed evaluation and risk analysis on expertise, sustaining manufacturing capability and security. The supplier also has to fulfill prerequisites with respect to social responsibility and the maturity of its quality management system.

    Silicongear’s minimum requirement for suppliers of process materials is a third-party certified quality management system according ISO 9001. In addition, suppliers of direct material (material that can be found in the end product, such as silicon and gold, copper or aluminum wires) must comply with the requirements of IATF16949. For silicon foundry services and OSAT services Silicongear requests a third-party certified quality management system according to IATF16949. In addition to the qualification of a supplier, the supplied material, equipment or service is also assessed and qualified for each individual use.

    Operational performance control

    We expect our suppliers to have comprehensive expertise and competence in their field of business in order to prevent defects. We also expect profound capabilities in data analysis, statistical process control and other safe methods to prevent outliers from being shipped to Silicongear. Furthermore, we place great value on the continuous improvement and self-driven zero defect programs of our suppliers to prevent detected defects from re-occurring.

    Supplier development

    The semiconductor industry is characterized by constant growth in technical and quality requirements. In order to continue to meet and maintain the quality requirements of our customers and markets in the future, we work together closely with suppliers to implement sustainable quality improvements throughout the supply chain.

  • Change management & PCN

    At Silicongear we follow the global change management process, which describes how to introduce and manage changes to products and product realization processes up to delivery to the customer. The global change management process guarantees compliance with ISO 9001, industry-specific standards and individual customer contracts.

    Change-specific and automated workflows control company-wide, cross-functional approval and information processes between manufacturing and business departments. Integrated risk assessment, a change-specific review by all stakeholders and release by change review boards at management level all contribute to our quality objective: zero defect regarding our commitments.

    The change management process consists of four phases

    • 1. Change Request Planning

      This phase is mainly characterized by the technical feasibility analysis. Scope and project plan are defined and the initial assessment regarding customer involvement is available. A first risk assessment is conducted at this early stage of the process. The phase is closed by a general project approval.

    • 2. Evaluation and preparation

      This step covers all activities to define the target process and to prepare all production data required to execute the change. The project phase is terminated by a process freeze and the change realization release.

    • 3. Qualification

      This phase aims at fully qualifying the target process – and all corresponding products, if required. For major changes, customers might be involved in the qualification by the Silicongear sample process which is

    • 4. Implementation

      The change management process is completed with a full implementation of all changes previously defined and prepared.

    Product and process change notification

    In case of major changes that may affect the form, fit, or function of a product or adversely affect the product's quality or reliability, Silicongear informs the affected customers via a product/process change notification (PCN).

    Customers will be notified via our sales channel a minimum of 90 days before the planned first shipping date of a changed product. The change is considered accepted when no objection is received within 30 days after the distribution of a PCN. In case of minor changes, customers are informed via information notification.

    Product Discontinuation

    The Silicongear product discontinuation (PD) process, also called the end-of-life (EOL) or product termination notice (PTN) process. Customers are notified a minimum of 6 months before the last ordering date (LOD or LTB = last time buy) with an additional 6 months before the last delivery date (LDD), a total of 12 months in all.

  • Complaint management and problem solving

    Customer satisfaction is our highest priority. To achieve it, it is necessary to understand the customer’s needs and requirements. Equally important: in case we were not able to meet a requirement, it is crucial that we know about it. Based on this knowledge, we are able to improve our products and services. We aspire to thoroughly analyze the deviation, identify all root causes and eliminate them with long-term improvements, while preventing any form of re-occurrence. For this reason we have established a well-functioning complaint management system along the entire value chain. Everyone supporting this process shares the common goal of correcting any deviation as fast as possible.

    Silicongear follows the 8D problem solving method to understand and correct a confirmed deviation. One main principle is to collaborate closely and transparently with each other as a team, as well as with the customer. In the event of a complaint, the customer interface validates all complaint information provided in terms of completeness, consistency and data accuracy. The customer interface also regularly updates the customer during the complaint handling process, from the verification to the final report. This is the basis of an ongoing strong and trustful partnership. Our complaint management process complies with international standards such as JEDEC, VDA and IATF.

    Should you have a complaint, please contact your sales representative, who will arrange the contact with your dedicated customer interface. Please use the CAR form to make sure that all information required for an analysis is provided.

  • Failure analysis

    Failure analysis and device & technology characterization

    Failure analysis is a key competence in increasing the reliability of our products and technologies. It further helps us make our products ready for the market within a shorter period of time and is essential to yield improvement, thus making production more efficient.

    We operate our failure analysis (FA) laboratories and highly-skilled engineering staff. The FA laboratories at Silicongear are part of the company-wide continuous optimization process. FA supports programs to improve yield at the chip-related (frontend) and package-related (backend) factories. It investigates design problems during product development and as part of the qualification process analyzes stressed parts to ensure that the electronic devices work throughout their entire lifecycle.

    In the event of a customer complaint, FA investigates the root cause to prevent similar issues in the future. In case of a single failing device – which is typical for customer complaints – the failed device is analyzed according to a predefined analysis flow:

    • 1. Verification

      In verifying the reported abnormal behavior of the device, a precise description from our customers of the device history (e.g. stress, application conditions and the observed failure behavior) is crucial for a successful analysis. Depending on the complexity of this verification, bench measurements, application boards and sophisticated automated testing systems are used. In addition to the electrical test, the device is investigated using non-destructive methods such as x-ray and scanning acoustic microscopy.

    • 2. Preparation of the device

      After verification the analysis engineer has to decide the best way to access the failing parts of the device. Depending on the problem and the chip and package technology, the chip is exposed from the frontside or backside. This ensures that the evidence of the failure is not removed, while granting the necessary optical access for the first localization steps.

    • 3. First localization

      Different methods such as photon emission microscopy, laser stimulation methods and infrared lock-in thermography are used to find the failing area of the device. These methods rely on observing the physical signature caused by a failure, such as abnormal currents, light emission or temperature. Often several complimentary methods are used to obtain a conclusive picture.

    • 4. Electrical measurements

      When the localization methods do not fully reveal the exact failure location, further electrical measurements inside the chip circuitry have to be performed. These can involve microscopic electrical probe needles which contact the chip either from the frontside or, for even smaller devices, from the backside using contactless, laser-based methods. Once the problem is narrowed down to a specific location – often in the micrometer range – the analysis engineer carefully removes surrounding material until the defect becomes visible. This is done with a combination of chemical and mechanical preparation methods, often in conjunction with further electrical measurements. Depending on the problem, these measurements and the destructive preparation can involve many challenging steps and are therefore very time-consuming.

    • 5. Physical analysis

      Once the defect is identified and we have a clear picture of the failure mechanism, the root cause is investigated with appropriate imaging and characterization methods. These include for example focused ion beam, transmission electron microscopy, energy dispersive x-ray analysis and Auger electron spectroscopy. The analysis steps and results are documented in a detailed report which is the foundation of the subsequent root cause analysis. Corrective actions are taken based on this analysis.

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