In 2013 MDI undertook a challenge from its largest customer to improve testing standards for Quality Assurance. The goal was to reduce non-conformities and improve quality towards ISO 9001 objectives and to reduce product defects towards zero, a primary objective of Six Sigma manufacturing practices. The result of this effort was a Product Acceptance Testing system called Mothership.
Between 2013 and 2014, Mothership enabled the detection and correction of at least 21 classes of major and minor product defects across ~1,000 products and at least 22 product models, performing ~5,000 test suites, capturing ~350,000 fine measurements, and identifying ~3,000 major and minor product defects. All defects were detected and corrected in-process, preventing non-conformities and potential product failures at customer sites.
MDI is making the same process available to the world through the MDIM (MDI Mothership) program. Customers will be able to use MDI's cloud-based Mothership service or host their own Mothership servers. MDIM will allow products to be self-certified in the field without altering the product and in their normal operating environment. With MDIM, customers can be certain that products continue to meet the qualifications they met in the factory prior to important tasks that require peak performance, zero defects, and predictable, reliable operation.
Mothership is a network service that manages suites of tasks and checks used to gather and validate product information through distributed, automated testing.
The method of operation Mothership uses is fast, efficient, and resilient, utilizing products themselves as test workers, scalable up to thousands of products with multiple Mothership task servers, capable of processing thousands of messages per second, and pausing, retrying, or rolling back task execution. Automated testing improves the accuracy and speed of testing, mitigates operator error, and is highly adaptable to changing procedures.
Administrators manage Mothership through a web-based interface, where they can maintain test records and create new or modify existing suites, tasks, checks, and QA documents through a version-controlled process. Operators may launch tests on products, follow QA procedures, create QA records, and view reports on product test records.
Products themselves are booted into a special operating system which reports to Mothership and makes the product available for testing over a network. This allows Mothership to perform testing without installing any software, altering the product, or storing data on the product in any way, and to test products remotely through a centralized interface. Customers of self-hosted Mothership environments may test products with a network connection and a bootable USB thumb drive or standard PXE network boot capability. Customers of MDI's Mothership cloud service may test products with an internet connection and a bootable USB thumb drive.