As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, printed circuit boards (PCBs) are getting more complex every year. The testing goals of most industries seem to be faster, more intelligence, smaller footprint, and of course, less cost. That last one is one of the more vexing problems of the test engineering department. If the product costs less, there is less money for testing, and by inference, less test time as production volumes soar. This is the “fun” part. Let’s explore what this means.
Now if you happen to work in an industry where the product you are testing has safety liability and in many cases wartime issues, automated testing is far more important than perhaps what the accountants and production managers thought was adequate. Let me elaborate.
Say you are a test engineering manager in the automotive industry. If you are testing active safety features like anti-lock brakes (ABS) or a collision avoidance system (CAS), and because of inadequate testing, a vehicle crashes and takes lives and property, then the lawyers get involved as lawsuits against the manufacturer cost time and millions of dollars. Can you see why your test strategy must be comprehensive enough and fast enough to provide the most accurate test at the lowest cost?
Now let’s up the ante a bit. You work in the defense industry… for a manufacturer who won the contract at the lowest cost. If your test strategy is not accurate enough, that missile or smart bomb may not achieve its mission. So, who wins the war?
Now I am not faulting accounting or production here. They all have jobs to do. My point is that in a safety or defense application, the value of communication to define and justify the most reliable test required – the second C word of this series – is key.
Your team must understand:
The correct choice of platform is crucial if future flexibility and scalability of your automated test system may be required, and industry-standard architectures will provide optimum longevity and reliability due to their continual maintenance by dedicated consortiums and the breadth of support among leading test & measurement vendors. The following video will provide more guidance on choosing the most effective test platform for your applications, with an emphasis on switching systems - the foundation of most test systems.