[rescue] Slightly OT: Bad Cap Saga

Curious George jorge234q at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 18 12:52:25 CDT 2008

--- On Mon, 8/18/08, Geoffrey S. Mendelson <gsm at mendelson.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 03:05:55PM -0700, Curious George
> wrote:
> > I.e., the problem has been around for almost 10 years.  Are folks
> > *really* still shipping bad product in spite of this knowledge?
> > I could understand products from "Phly-Buy-Nyte Elektronigs"...
> > but, hard to believe the folks at Dell, IBM, etc. are just turning
> > a blind eye on their suppliers after taking such a $$$ hit dealing
> > with this problem.
> Sure, Dell has been rumored to be on the edge of financial failure for
> years. I'm sure they buy their componnets to the specification that they
> last as long as their warranties. How close is a matter of
> speculation.

Hence my point.  They can NOT be "turning a blind eye" to this.
They can't afford to.  Especially since the press has wind of the
issue for many years...

> Besides, do you know anyone who buys a Dell computer because it is
> a high quality item? People buy them for their price.

I think most Dell sales (and HP, etc.) are just because there are
no practical alternatives (in the Wintel world)
> > I use Panny caps in all of my designs and, SO FAR, have never had
> > a problem.  But, I derate *heavily*.  OTOH, if the problem is
> > *not* related to a "component manufacturer" (see above), then
> > I should, perhaps, not sleep as well...  :-/
> This is starting to become silly IMHO.

I guess because we service different sorts of industries.  :>
It appears you deal with "(inexpensive) consumer goods".  So,
for you, a short product life doesn't *cost* you anything
*and* may, in fact, *help* your overall sales!

OTOH, I have to deal with products that folks *don't* expect
to fail.  And, that tend to cost a fair bit more ($1K - $1M)
so the cost of those potential failures are significant (to
vendor *and* consumer).  Were *I* my own customer, I would
gladly pony up another $10K, $50K, $100K, etc. to have a "hot spare"
available "just in case".  But, that eats into *their* operating
margins.  So, they just insist/expect devices *not* to fail.
And, they're big enough firms that they can use their financial
and legal clout to "encourage" that  :-/

So, if there is "something happening" in teh electronics
industry that could *potentially* affect the quality of these
things, it is in my best interest to be on top of it.

*If* it's just a "bad component manufacturer", then it won't
affect me -- just avoid components from that manufacturer.
OTOH, if there is something inherently changed in the
technology, etc. that is manifecting itself in a type of
product/component failure (e.g., ever shrinking device
geometries), then it can have a huge impact on how well
I could respond to that "failure" (e.g., if we start seeing
processor failures as a consequence of electromigration and
can reasonably anticipate devices of larger geometries to
be harder to find in the future, then it's time to come
up with a design that doesn't rely on those parts *before*
they become unobtainium)

> While I'm sure you do a wonderful
> job of designing your devices, how much control do you have
> over the ultimate manufacture of them? If you do control what gets
> put into them and how they are manufacturered and tested then good for
> you, worry about it.
> If you just design them, and the designs are sold to (or
> stolen by) little factories in China who do what they can to cheapen
> them, then don't worry, it's totaly beyond your control.

Almost everything is made under our direct supervision (either *by*
us or *for* us).  There's just too much at stake.  Even the items
that are outsourced are heavily inspected before being used.  This
increases the overall cost of those assemblies but is necessary
in certain cases where the technologies involved aren't cost
effective to bring in house.

As I said, we'd *really* have to be in bed with a vendor to trust
an entire product line (or, corporate future) to their commitment.

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