One of the biggest issues in the fiber optic industry is supply chain friction. Manufacturers send their connectors to cable assembly houses, which are then installed in data centers and other locations where they will be re-inspected many times throughout their lifespan. Parts are often returned to manufacturers, because of permanent failures during a customer’s inspection.
Supply chain friction that arises from faulty or returned product occurs for a variety of reasons:
- If a manufacturing facility meets the minimum IEC specs, but a customer requires much more stringent criteria, there will be a very high product return rate. These discrepancies cost an entirely preventable amount of time, labor, and money.
- If quality control is not being conducted properly at each of the steps through the connector’s life cycle, then fiber failures will slip through the cracks until they are discovered by the next quality control check. This can cause performance issues and without proper inspections and documentation, it will be unclear who is responsible, causing all sides to point fingers.
- If each facility uses a different or unreliable inspection system, , the test results will vary drastically from facility to facility, even when using the same test criteria.
So how do you eliminate inconsistent test results?
- Agree upon quality control requirements throughout the entire supply chain to catch any failing fibers. Work with your supply chain to decide on a specific microscope or system to inspect the fiber end faces.
- Agree upon specific pass/fail test criteria for every connector type and/or use case.
- Use an automated inspection system, such as FastMT or AVIT. Automating your inspection cycle will eliminate operator error and inconsistencies that arise from subject manual inspection.
- Implement guard banding across your supply chain.
So what is the solution?
Supply chains may have different inspection volumes and situational limitations, which may lead to using different desktop scopes and probes. However, using FiberQA’s line of FastMT and AVIT systems will ensure that each system across every platform is performing consistently within the provided standards.
FiberQA has developed a simulated ferrule (right) to calibrate and test the reproducibility and reliability of FastMT and AVIT systems. This test target was manufactured using a chrome on glass technique, adding a series of known permanent known defects in varying widths that are within the range of desirable inspection.
Lockheed Martin, CInch Connectivity, and FiberQA conducted a study using three FasMT-400 systems (one from each company) and the chrome on glass test targets. The goal of the study was to investigate how consistent test results are across multiple systems. The study proved that using FiberQA’s systems in different facilities in multiple locations can in fact produce reliably consistent test results using the same standards.
The results of the study have pointed to one very simple solution for supply chains who are having issues with quality control: use a FastMT or AVIT system at all points of inspection. Customers will be assured that the products that leave the manufacturing floor passing inspection will also pass inspection upon receiving them. One of FiberQA’s large cable manufacturing customers has claimed that returned product did not only decrease after beginning to using AVIT systems, it stopped all together.
The white paper “Measuring Fiber End Face Inspection Microscope Reproducibility using Chrome on Glass Artifacts” written by Charles DiSaverio (Lockheed Martin), Christopher J Wilson (Cinch Connectivity), and Doug Wilson (FiberQA) is NOW AVAILABLE for download!
For more information, contact FOC at (800) 473-4237 / 508-992-6464
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