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Crown Forms New Strategic Quality Team and Builds Test Lab

Crown International in Elkhart, Indiana established a Strategic Quality Team earlier this year and upgraded its factory to include a Reliability Test Lab equipped with sophisticated and rigorous testing equipment.

While Crown has operated its own testing equipment for some time, the manufacturer’s testing criteria have become more stringent in recent years, often resulting in the need to send items to an outside laboratory for evaluation. Having its own comprehensive lab in-house accelerates testing during the early phases of product development, and also allows the company to conduct quality audits on lines that are already in production.

Senior Director of Engineering Bob Chadderdon heads the Strategic Quality Team. “This initiative has replaced older equipment and supplemented our existing tools with state-of-the-art, higher-performance equipment offering much better data collection capabilities,” Chadderdon says. “Simply put, this new lab lets us do more, faster. We have also integrated our own Harman HiQnet products into the lab as signal sources so we can monitor and control long-term operational testing remotely.”

The equipment in the test lab runs units through simulated environmental stress and also tests them in extreme conditions. A thermal/humidity chamber allows for accelerated life testing in environments ranging from -95 to +355 degrees Fahrenheit at up to 95 percent humidity. A new, highly automated shaker table can generate 100 g of acceleration and report test results in real-time across the network. It allows identification and correction of vibration issues in early prototypes. Drop-test equipment subjects test items to two high-impact drops: the first time in the factory-packed box and then the unit itself, without packaging. This test demonstrates how well the equipment can withstand the rigors of handling by people and machinery in the distribution environment and beyond.

The Strategic Quality Team includes an electrical design engineer, a mechanical design engineer, an industrial engineer and a traditional quality-control engineer.

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