Teledyne Microelectronic Technologies, a Teledyne Technologies Inc. company, is a microelectronics manufacturer specializing in products and services for the defense, space, aviation, medical, and broadband communications markets. Because these markets are highly regulated, Teledyne maintains a quality management system certification to SAE AS9100, ISO 9001, and major OEM customer specifications.
The challenge for Teledyne was to balance quality, compliance, and costs. Environmental monitoring is crucial because of the electrostatic discharge damage that can occur when temperature and relative humidity levels do not meet minimum/maximum criteria. The ambient humidity levels can decrease significantly throughout the year.
Teledyne had numerous locations monitored by chart recorders. One of the main flaws in this system was that if conditions went out-of-tolerance (OOT), there was no way of knowing unless someone continuously checked the chart recorder. Any period of OOT conditions could compromise product quality and cause line stoppages until remedied.
However, monitoring with chart recorders was extremely problematic. “Someone had to check the chart recorders three times a day and record the data manually,” says Mark Kashef, quality assurance manager for Teledyne,
Kashef also notes that the manual chart recorder system naturally allowed for human error while gathering the data. Additionally, record retention and storage took a great deal of space and time. The cost of ownership of chart recorders, including purchasing expendable supplies, such as charts, ink, pens, etc., increases with frequent recalibrations required to offset or repair any degradation in measurement accuracy. Finally, replacing the older chart recorders with newer models was extremely expensive and did not resolve the need for recurrent supplies and repetitive calibration.
When looking for a solution, along with maintaining the quality of its products through a controlled environment, Teledyne had to consider its regular audits and inspections, the third-party audits for AS9100 and ISO 9001, and inspection of humidity records by in-house client contractors.
Teledyne replaced its chart recorders with temperature and humidity data recorders from Veriteq Instruments Inc. a Canadian instrumentation manufacturer located in Richmond, British Columbia. Teledyne now monitors 51 locations with Veriteq’s viewLinc temperature/humidity alarm and monitoring software. In switching to viewLinc, Teledyne was able to ensure that the company met the requirements of all major accreditation and regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, International Laboratory Assessment and Accreditation, and the Joint Commission. The system also eliminated human and natural error through continuous early warning for out-of-spec temperature and humidity conditions.
Kashef says the system is simple to set up, easy to use, and much more secure, providing easy access to records for any audit or inspection and real-time measurements at remote locations.
“Now all we do is store the temperature and humidity records on a hard drive. When requested, it’s a simple matter to print a report,” says Kashef. “We designate our data loggers by the areas they monitor, so we can respond quickly to any environmental changes at any given location. Before we installed viewLinc, time spent checking the chart recorders was approximately eight to 10 hours a week. Now we can check all locations in real time from any PC and generate reports in minutes.”
From a quality assurance standpoint, Kashef says that there is a great deal of peace of mind in knowing that network interruptions or power outages will never affect the data. The system allows multiple levels of alarms that automatically alert appropriate personnel by phone, e-mail, or PC desktop display.
“If conditions go out of tolerance, we take corrective action immediately,” says Kashef. “And the data are never lost because if there’s a problem with a computer or server, information collected from the last few months is stored on the data loggers themselves.”
There was an unexpected benefit of installing the Veriteq software: the positive response from their client companies. “Our Veriteq monitoring system has become one of the must-show/want-to-be-seen improvements,” says Kashef.