Encole Quality Assurance Philosophy

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Recently we’ve stepped into the realm of big business. Our customers are asking us for our Quality Plan. That is how we guarantee that our products work, work consistently and meet the stated performance specifications. We do have a plan. And we do strive to provide quality products. So, we have this to share without divulging too much know-how and our proprietary methods.

Introduction to Quality Plan at Encole is this

There is a sense of pride in our work. At the end of the day we are confident in our products. We take comfort knowing that somewhere in the world we’ve created a satisfied customer. This sense of confidence and achievement cannot be accomplished at random. Our internal processes are guided by consistently following our Encole’s quality assurance principles:

  • Product quality assurance by vendor relations and compliance with standards.
  • Attentive and clear communications with customers.
  • Easy-to-use tracking of workflow through ERP and PDM.

This introduction to a quality plan has no part numbers and it’s not a controlled document as our specific manufacturing documents. This is really more our quality philosophy than a plan that is intended to be freely shared with Encole employees, affiliates, suppliers and customers. Internal manufacturing instructions have proprietary information and cannot be shared outside of Encole.

Product Quality Assurance by Vendor Relations and Compliance with Standards

Encole manufactures high performance sight windows in various types such as, NPT- Threaded, Metric, SAE-threaded, Conflat and ASME- flanged viewports in different sizes. We are constantly looking for new products to develop and sell.

Product quality starts when creating a great design. This step involves our engineering personnel who have appropriate education and training in the fields of mechanical, electrical and manufacturing engineering, optics and applied physics. Several of our engineers have advanced degrees such as Master’s Degrees and PhD. Our general approach is to retain excellent relationships with our qualified personnel and affiliates. This is generally accomplished by creating freedom from fear of making wrong decisions and reassuring job security by diversifying our products across target industries in every part of the world. We believe that lasting relations with our affiliates are important to consistent quality. We have the same approach with our vendors, subcontractors and suppliers.

After design work is completed comes the next critical step in quality assurance. It’s technical and easily sustainable with our adhesion to standards and procedures.

Every finished product has a Bill of Materials, (BOM) and associated Manufacturing Assembly Instructions & Procedures, (MAP). Every drawing of a part or an assembly complies with the ANSI Y14.5M-1994 Drafting Standard. This is the current standard in the USA today for Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, GD&T. Encole engineers are trained and experienced in the art. Several of Encole affiliates hold certifications in CAD systems used in production of part drawings.

During the design process each part goes through numerical revision as needed to engineer the part. We use CAD systems such as SolidWorks and Pro-E. During this phase we perform engineering due diligence by analyzing the part for mechanical and thermal stresses using finite element analysis, FEA. The goal is to determine the theoretical Factor of Safety, FOS. When parts have been designed we perform tolerance stack-up analysis to finalize production drawings.

Upon request we can furnish our sample drawings.

Once the engineering process is complete, the parts are promoted to Production Lifecycle Status, and revisions become alphabetical. Alphabetical parts are our revenue units and any changes are treated through an Engineering Change Order, ECO. Typically to enact an ECO, a request has to be made from Marketing.

Our incoming inspection of articles starts with a report provided to us from our fabrication shops. We specify “Inspection Dimensions” on the face of a drawing and typically parts are rejected should the specifications be not met. Our fabrication facilities for metal parts, or quartz, or ceramic components have clean rooms with coordinate-measuring machines, CMM with resolutions to 0.0001 inches, that is 1”/10,000. This resolution is more than enough to measure deviations, as most of our parts, with the exceptions of optical components, have tolerances of 0.001 inches.

In addition to the dimensional report from the fabrication shop we perform a secondary inspection at our facility in San Jose, California, where we mainly perform the functions of inspection, assembling, testing, and final packaging.

On our assembly drawing we specify the bill of materials of every component that goes into the finished product and also the MAP, (Manufacturing Assembly & Instruction Procedures). This document clearly shows how to put together an assembly or a sub-assembly of the product. MAP is a typed document with its own part number, PDM- controlled. MAPs are located on the assembly floor. The document has a list of tools and fixtures used in production of the product, with photographs and instructions on how to actually use the tooling.

Each fabrication step has its own MAP. Our production workflow typically is broken down into the following steps:

  1. Initial inspection of individual parts
  2. Individual parts cleaning
  3. Assembling according to BOM
  4. As applicable, use of heating equipment
  5. Post assembly cleaning
  6. Testing
  7. Final Inspection
  8. Packaging.

With the product packaged and ready to ship our quality assurance does not stop. Customers depend on us, sometimes with technical advice on choosing the right sight glass or help with the logistics of expediting, availability and pricing.

Attentive and Clear Communications with Customers

First off, we try to minimize telephone transfers for incoming customer calls. When people call they want to talk to a person, not a machine. From there, we simply listen.

Easy-to-Use Tracking of Workflow Through ERP and PDM

Underneath Encole.com is a very powerful database that makes our work a joy. We have a web-based system with tracking Customer Orders as they are generated via the shopping cart on Encole.com, or manually entered on customer’s purchase orders, PO. In addition we have a Requisition System tracking orders Encole makes with our suppliers. The system was developed custom. This is not a commercially available one, making it secure and tightly fit for our needs. It’s intuitive and easy to use, taking full advantage of the hard-to-error approach.

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