Three Strategies for Building Efficient Test Systems
- Created: Friday, 01 August 2008
Test engineers are facing new pressures to develop high-performance test systems that maximize efficiency. Despite rapidly increasing device complexity, they have to deliver higher-speed and lower-cost test systems, as well as contribute to corporate sustainability programs. This pressure is exemplified by the addition of corporate responsibility and sustainability programs presented on almost every corporate Web site. These corporate sustainability programs often have goals of reducing energy consumption, carbon footprints, and emissions.
Here are some examples from corporate sustainability programs:
- Lockheed Martin adheres to a “Buy Smart, Use Less” business model.
- Flextronics’ goal is to “protect the environment, conserve energy and natural resources, and prevent pollution by applying appropriate management practices and technology.”
- Delphi has “established goals to further reduce energy usage at our plants around the world.”
- Samsung “will continue to minimize the use of resources and energy through clean production technologies.” Many manufacturing and engineering teams are now given sustainability targets with the goal of using resources more efficiently. This article provides three proven strategies for increasing test system efficiency.
Strategy 1: Reduce Test Times by Maximizing Instrument Utilization
For high-volume applications, you can further maximize efficiency by adopting a parallel test strategy that simultaneously tests multiple UUTs. Parallel test clearly reduces aggregate test times, increases test throughput, and improves instrument usage (see Figure 1). The complexity and cost of developing a parallel test system has historically been prohibitive. Developing test management software that implements the testing of multiple UUTs at once requires a low-level understanding of how the operating system works with parallel operations, such as Windows Critical Sections, and careful consideration of how to implement instrument sharing among many UUTs without creating conflicts or deadlocks.