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Chinese OEM Reduces Returns With Improved Product Testing

Summary: When Continental Automotive Systems, Tianjin, China, began producing an electronic component known as the silver box, the return rate was more than 1,200 parts per million (ppm), versus a goal of less than 100 ppm. A Six Sigma improvement team used quality tools including trend charts, Pareto charts, and cause-and-effect diagrams to analyze the failure modes for the reported defects, finding that many were not being covered by product testing processes. A combination of technical innovation tools, including test coverage analysis, fault insertion, and a test methods selection matrix, along with Six Sigma process improvement and statistical tools, led the team to the solution of adding new testing items and a new testing station to the process. Adding the new tests reduced silver box returns to fewer than 50 ppm, producing cost savings of $130,000 per year while also strengthening relations with a major customer.

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