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Component Documentation

When a manufacturer offers a product for sale, the buyer expects to have access to documentation that provides sufficient information to determine if the product will perform as needed for the design or modification of consideration. This is a fundamental requirement for electronic component parts and assemblies. For components that are intended for use in assemblies, the manufacturer will not only furnish a datasheet covering the essential parameters of the part, but may also include what is referred to as an Application Note. This is usually in the form of small block diagrams or schematics included on the datasheets, but for more sophisticated parts, the Application Notes may have their own documents. For a typical datasheet for a semiconductor, Texas Instruments has published a paper I have included at the bottom of this page. The document is titled:Understanding and Interpreting Standard-Logic Data Sheets. The paper is fairly comprehensive and if you would like to become more familiar with datasheet terminology, this is an excellent introduction. This is a must read.

“For every electronic component or series of components, the manufacturer or designer produces a datasheet. In its early stages, a data sheet might be the specifications the designer works from; but, by the time the device is released, the data sheet is the essential piece of information that describes exactly what the component does. Everything from the smallest resistor to the most elaborate processor needs a datasheet. Datasheets focus on electrical properties and the pin functions of the device; usually the inner workings of the device are not discussed. This is partly to make industrial espionage more difficult, and also because the user should not need to know the internal workings of the device. In practice, if you find that you need to know how a particular product works internally, you can often call the manufacturer and find what you need to know.”

For most documentation the following is covered in great detail:

  • Manufacturer’s Part Numbers and options specific to unique characteristic variations of the part, are usually found under “Ordering Information” The main Part Number is usually at the top of the first page in bold, large text.
  • The Part Description
  • A picture or line drawing of the part
  • The Introductory General Feature Information
  • The Package or Form with dimensions
  • Pin-Out diagrams
  • Tables for Function and Operating Characteristics (Usually specified as ‘Min”, “Typ”, or “Max” Values including but not limited to:
  1. Temperature
  2. Voltage
  3. Power
  4. Power Dissipation
  5. Current
  6. Impedance
  7. Frequency
  8. Timing
  9. Value
  10. Tolerance
  11. Package – Form Factor options with part number ordering information
  12. Package thermal characteristics
  13. Gain (for transistors)
  14. Switching speed
  15. Humidity or other Environmental limits
  • Additional Drawings showing footprints, Land Patterns, or Hole Cutout specifications
  • Materials used to make the part if required by law
  • Charts showing various performance characteristics on a two-axis plot format

Component Documentation should be quickly accessible via a part management system that either is based upon a software database application that links “attachments” to part numbers, and/or hard-copy files storing all relevant documentation associated to the component or assembly part number. Refer to Core-Disciplines section on these web pages for more detailed information on this and related subjects.

It is of the utmost importance to refer to the datasheets when qualifying a part to determine if the part performs as stated. Having the datasheet will also help in designing the qualifying test procedure unique to the component or family component type.

Purchasing must also have access to the component data information but may not require the full set of datasheets. This is where the Component Engineer creates a PSD, Purchasing Specification Document or an SCD, Specification Control Drawing/Document. This is an abbreviated form of the full specification citing the critical parameters of the part and usually incorporates a drawing of the part with dimensions if applicable. Many times a vendor will take advantage of a Purchasing Agent and suggest an alternate part that is not a true alternate. The Purchasing Agent is bound to the Purchasing Specification Document and is not allowed to bring in a substitute part that is not on the PSD or SCD. The Purchasing Agent may send non-proprietary PSDs to a Vendor to help the Vendor better match the original component, but the component can only be purchased after it has been added to the Part Master’s AVL by the Component Engineer and updated on the PSD under Revision Control. This is the best way to avoid production problems due to underperforming or non-performing part substitutions.

A PSD form template is downloadable from this site under “Forms”.

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