Low Power and High Performance Single Board Computers (SBCs) designed for embedded wireless and wired network applications.

Gateworks SBC Quality Commitment - Why Gateworks

 

The Gateworks Quality Commitment

 

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Gateworks’ charter is to provide the highest quality solutions to customers at a competitive cost. This is best summarized with a few excerpts from its management philosophy statement:

 

  • Nurture and support our customers. Deliver quality products and solutions so that “GATEWORKS always WORKS.” We are not satisfied until our customer is satisfied.

 

  • Lead in supplying powerful and innovative solutions to the surging mobile and wireless communications markets.

 

  • Design and manufacture state-of-the-art Powerful ARM-based Single Board Computer solutions for transmitting and receiving audio, video and data in embedded wireless network systems.

 

  • Drive continuous improvement in quality by implementing a commitment to electronic automation to enhance consistency and to manage all business and manufacturing processes.

 

  • Enhance vendor relationships which exhibit mutual respect, teamwork, and commitment to long term relationships to optimize the supply chain. Partner with vendors that share our commitment to business integrity and quality.

 

  • Manufacture in the Gateworks facility in the United States using cost effective SMT technology. Plan and invest in manufacturing capacity ahead of demand to accommodate rapid growth.

 

Gateworks serves a wide variety of customers in all major markets; consumer/home, IT networks, healthcare, retail, industrial, transportation, gaming, security and public safety. Customers in these market segments demand high quality and long life products at a competitive cost. From Gateworks’ inception, these principles have been part of the company’s strategic plan. To achieve these principles, Gateworks has put into place many controls and systems to allow for real time quality assessment and process adjustments to guarantee the quality of our products. The benefit to the customer is that they receive a product that works, which translates to significant service and maintenance cost savings.

 

GW Track is the software system developed in house by Gateworks to control and monitor design practices and manufacturing to achieve the company’s quality goals. GW Track is a fully custom program and database that has been designed from the ground up to maintain and track records for all aspects of the company ranging from product design, purchasing and assembly, to final customer shipment. GW Track is a paperless system which allows the latest documentation for each product to be viewed in real-time at user terminals located throughout the production floor. GW Track ensures the latest revision documentation is used for production and eliminates potential mistakes when transferring data between the development and production stages.

 

The following sections describe some of the quality measures Gateworks takes at each step of the product cycle.

 

Product Development and Design Phase

Quality starts at the initial product design phase. Gateworks engineers have over 35 years of industry experience in the design of embedded single board computers (SBCs) and have learned from this vast experience where issues can arise and use time proven circuit blocks to maximize quality. Gateworks’ latest product family, Ventana, is the 5th generation of SBCs that have been brought to market over the past 11 years.

 

Gateworks is also unique in that in addition to designing all their own products, they also have on-site manufacturing which creates an extremely tight coupling between design engineering and manufacturing. This allows manufacturing to quickly feedback any issues to maximize yields and produce the highest quality product.

 

Gateworks products are used in multiple market segments including consumer, retail, medical, heavy industrial or military, thus all products are designed to meet the standards required by the most demanding market segments. All products are designed with the following attributes:

 

  1. Industrial Temperature Operation – All components are selected to meet the industrial temperature standard (-40 to +85C). These components are also screened at a higher level by their manufacturers and as a result are significantly less likely to fail in the field even in standard commercial environments.

  2. Components Selected to Ensure Long Product Lifetime – Gateworks uses only quality components from high quality manufacturers to ensure the longest product lifetime. For example, Gateworks only uses high grade tantalum capacitors while many manufacturers use lower cost electrolytic capacitors which can degrade and cause early product failures. Additionally, all major components are sourced from reputable and well-established manufacturers with excellent quality records.

  3. Long Lifetime Availability – Embedded customers require long term product availability. Our component selections are driven by this and Gateworks only selects major components with guaranteed lifetimes. For example, the Ventana family of SBCs uses the Freescale i.MX6 CPU which has a 10 year manufacturer guaranteed lifetime.

  4. Ruggedness for High Shock and Vibration Environments – Gateworks SBCs are designed for these types of environments. Components and connector systems are chosen to meet these criteria. Gateworks also works with many customers to add epoxy and RTV to select components for applications that must operate in the most severe environments.

  5. Protection from ESD and Voltage Transients – Gateworks’ designs include protection for sensitive circuitry which can be exposed to external ESD and high voltage transients which can cause failures in the field.

  6. System Health Monitor and Watchdog Timer – All Gateworks standard products contain circuitry for monitoring critical voltage rails and board temperature. Additionally, all boards contain an external watchdog timer which can hard power cycle the board should the user’s software become unresponsive.

 

Documentation and Revision Control

The GW Track database is used to hold all product documentation, including schematics, bills of material, ECOs, rework instructions and firmware/software for easy access by company personnel. Information for each product revision is also contained in the database so operators always have access to the latest information. The engineering CAD system is also tied into GW Track to allow for the direct import of a product’s CAD data for quick and error-free creation of assembly drawings and documentation.

 

Design Verification

All of our designs go through a complete and rigorous Design Verification Test (DVT) to ensure product robustness and quality. This testing includes:

 

  1. Complete Product Design Verification - All aspects of the product’s functionality are tested to ensure proper operation of both the hardware and software. This includes all internal systems such as the CPU, memory and flash, along with all the external I/O interfaces.

  2. Extended Temperature Testing – All products go through an extensive “4-corners test” which runs a product over the full temperature and voltage ranges with cold soaking at low temperatures to ensure boot-up reliability.

  3. Boot Reliability Testing – All products are run for 10K boot-up cycles from a complete power cycle to ensure hardware and software boot reliability.

 

Component Procurement

At the procurement level, Gateworks only uses authorized distributors to ensure no counterfeit or gray market components are used on our products. All incoming components are inspected and barcoded for traceability. All products are barcoded from the start of the production cycle so all components used on each product can be traced down to the component manufacturer’s lot code. All traceability is stored in GW Track for quick retrieval if any issues arise.

 

Manufacturing

Gateworks has invested heavily into automating its manufacturing facility to improve efficiency and quality. The production process is monitored through the GW Track system which logs and ensures each step of the assembly flow is followed correctly. Records for each step of the process are kept for each product. This includes assembly parameters, defects, automated optical inspection (AOI) results, rework, and final test results.

 

GW Track is also used during the assembly process to enforce quality checks and ESD control measures. The following is a list of some of the steps taken to ensure quality throughout the production process:

 

  1. Traceability of all Components Used on Products – All components are barcoded when received into the plant. During SMT assembly, these barcodes are scanned into GW Track to provide traceability down to the component level for each product.

  2. ESD Control - Operators cannot log into the GW Track system until they’ve certified they have put on ESD protection.

  3. Quality Checks – Operators are automatically logged off the GW Track system every 45 minutes and a QA supervisor verifies their work process before logging back into the system.

  4. Enforcement of Process Steps – Products are scanned at each step of the assembly process and must fully pass the previous step before starting the next process. The system will not allow any steps to be circumvented and they must be followed in the correct sequence.

  5. Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) – All products are run through AOI to look for defects. All results are logged and must be resolved before the product can proceed to the next assembly step.

  6. JTAG IEEE 1149.1 Boundary Scan Testing - All products go through low level JTAG testing along with full functional testing. All test results are captured into the database.

  7. Quality Metrics and Reports – The GW Track database is updated in real-time so quality reports and metrics can be generated with all the latest information in real-time.

 

Key Metrics

Gateworks is committed to providing the highest quality products and is constantly looking at all process areas for improvement. Top management reviews key process metrics on a weekly basis. Below is a summary of the key metrics for the 2014 calendar year.

 

  1. Final pass percentage 2014 (for completed lots) = 98.5%

  2. On-time delivery 2014 (days deviation from quoted date) = 1.39 days

  3. Field return percentage 2014 = 0.81%

  4. RMA return time 2014 (average days to return) = 21.1 days

  5. Component placements 2014 (monthly average) = 1.2 Million

 

Customer Support

Gateworks customer commitment doesn’t stop once a product is shipped, it continues throughout the customer’s development and production process. Customers can directly get in touch with Gateworks support staff via the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email, where the typical response time is less than 24 hours. All customer questions are well documented and stored – solutions, tutorials, software, and advice are made available on the Gateworks Wiki (trac.gateworks.com) for anyone to view and use in their development process. Another feature of Gateworks’ continued customer support is active software development; the Gateworks engineers keep up with the latest Linux releases in addition to developing solutions for Android, Yocto, OpenWRT, and many more. This software development is then contributed back into the OpenSource community. All Gateworks staff and FAEs are based in the USA company headquarters to ensure the highest quality support for their customers.

 

 

Conclusion

 

 Gateworks provides customers with the highest quality products. All aspects of a company’s operations are taken into consideration from initial design to production. This commitment has enabled Gateworks to be a top supplier of SBCs for many of the largest consumer, military, industrial and telecom companies in the world.