Why do an Oven HealthCHECK™? Why Calibrate Instruments?
You might ask, why should I perform an Oven HealthCHECK? In other words, why should I run a rather sophisticated measurement system through my oven to produce a rather nice looking 3-D plot of the cross belt temperature uniformity?
Figure 1: An example 3D plot of the oven with very good cross belt uniformity, < 3ºC
I may not like the answer because I might find out my oven has a problem that I cannot fix? Sounds like a “head in the sand” sort of excuse to me.
I would ask a different question: “Why do you calibrate your bench test instruments?” Is it to find out that the instrument is out of spec? Heavens no!! That would be a nightmare because it would call into question everything that instrument was used to test since the last time it was calibrated. So why do you calibrate if the results could be so disastrous? Simple, it allows you to show and document that the instrument is and always has been “within specification.” So when the auditor asks, how do know your instruments are in calibration, you pull out the Certificates of Calibration.
Figure: What's the first thing you check after you receive your Certificates of Calibration? The "As Received: Within Tolerance"
ECD’s Oven HealthCHECK is designed to certify and document your oven’s performance or health. It is a “calibration” done on a regular interval, say once a year, to show that the oven performance is within specification and not changing over time. It can also provide a baseline level of performance around which you can compare into the future. Further, if you have several ovens, the HealthCHECK can show you which ovens are best for applications where oven uniformity is critical.
Back this up with much simpler and more frequent verification profiles of your oven using OvenRIDER or OvenCHECKER, where simple software-generated Xbar-R control charts show daily indications of a thermal process that is “in control,” and you will no longer have to steer the auditor around your reflow oven. You can proudly show that you know your oven’s performance level and that it is consistent because you have taken the steps to measure your oven’s health as part of your Thermal Quality Management program. Such a program should be marketed, since it shows you commitment to understanding your oven’s thermal nature and you have the data to show it. This sure beats the “head in the sand” quality program which may characterize your competition.