Functional and ICT Test and Profit

April 17, 2015

Test Engineering in Aerospace: Functional and ICT

Over the years I have had an opportunity to get to see how different organizations view their test operations.  At one aerospace manufacturer, test was regarded as a most critical player in the manufacturing operations.  Any manufacturing change was always presented to the testing engineers early enough so that engineering could offer consultation.  Testing and the resulting summation was considered just as important a manufacturing step as soldering or purchasing.

Functional Test

IntrinsicQuality.com Functional Test Fixtures

At another manufacturer, functional test was regarded as the enemy.  If defects were detected, somehow anger would be directed at the test automation department for making the other manufacturing processes look bad.  The testing group would rarely be consulted on changes and blamed when the enacted changes would cause difficulty at function.

The end result of these differing attitudes was easy to see.  The movement at the aerospace facility was slow, measured and methodical.  Nothing happened very fast, but most things happened on time.  Not much panic, but a steady flow of what was expected.

Functional or ICT In Process Test Engineering – Modality and Attitude Result in Profit:

At the second facility things got done a lot faster.  Everybody was in a hurry, working late and coming in on Saturdays to keep up with the pace.  It seemed that oodles of money were being saved because they were able to skim through so many of the unnecessary steps.  But somehow there was always an emergency.  People would have to figure out new ways to fix all the crazy things that went wrong.  All those extra steps would take extra time so now the schedule would have to be revamped.  A lot of the problems would show up during ICT testing.  The product that was so obviously good just couldn’t get through the test equipment.  Some might pass. But a lot would fail.  Sometimes an assembly would pass one time and fail the next.  It was always clear that the problem was either lousy test equipment or inadequate testing engineers.

At the second facility folks would wonder how the aerospace company would make good profits while moving so slowly.  Of course, they figured it out.  It was clear that the aerospace market was inherently profitable. For more information on how IQ can assist in your ICT Test Development, call IQ today at 847-258-5598.

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Intrinsic Quality’s Test Executive: LabVIEW and CVI Flexibility

April 3, 2015

LabVIEW or CVI?

Not exactly Shakespeare but still a fairly common question.  Here at IQ we have no axe to grind.  We are comfortable doing either.  We are routinely asked to do both.  In fact the need is so common that when we decided to write a reuseable Test Executive, we made sure it would be compatible and supportable in either environment.  We wrote our executive twice.  Once in LabVIEW, once in CVI.

 

Intrinsic Quality’s Goal: Reduce Functional Test Program Cost

The idea for IQ’s Test Executive is a little different.  We needed a common starting point for functional test program development.  This would reduce our development costs.  We needed a set of tools that our customers could use to manage, run and in the long term support the test programs we develop.  This would improve our product and make happy customers.  So we needed a test executive.

 

User Friendly Software

LabView or CVI IQ Test ExecutiveBut we also knew the environment where our programs would be executing would vary dramatically.  We never felt a “one size fits all” approach could meet this variation.  So we couldn’t just build a single test executive that would work for all occasions.  Rather, our executive would be easily customizable for the particular application.  We also wanted the customizing process to allow our customers to modify the program to accommodate new conditions.

Flexible.  Test Executive. with Remote Support

Now many of our customers don’t own both LabView and CVI development software.  Nor do they have programming expertise in both platforms.  But often we provide one or the other with the project we are delivering and often the selected platform is supportable by a customer.  So we needed to have two (near) identical test executives so we could match the customized executive to the test software chosen.

LabVIEW or CVI?  Both work well.

Call Intrinsic Quality today to find out how we can help with your Functional Test Fixtures and Solutions: 847-258-5598.


Intrinsic Quality: USA Distributor for the FlashRunner In-System Programmer

February 11, 2015

FlashRunner Microcontroller ProgrammingIntrinsic Quality is pleased to be the Midwest’s leading distributor of SMH’s FlashRunner – A Revolutionary, Universal, Production In-System Flash Programmer.  FlashRunner answers the call for a Universal In-System Programmer that supports multiple microcontroller device manufacturers.  You’re looking for a fast and reliable way to program your devices that ensures data integrity and uninterrupted production.  With In-Circuit or In-System Programming, Flashrunner has answered that call and superceded traditional on-socket or pre-programmed programmable devices with several noteworthy advantages.

 

 

FlashRunner’s attributes:

  • Seamless integration into your ATE and Fixtures
  • On-board programming of microcontrollers, CPLDs, EEPROM and flash devices
  • Economical – lowers manufacturing and testing costs
  • Compatible with Agilent, Teradyne, SPEA, Genrad and other device manufacturers
  • Effortless programming
  • Allows for last minute reprogramming
  • Flexible in-circuit testing
  • Multiple device programming on single or multiple boards in a panel assembly
  • Firmware updates are smoothly integrated without additional cost
  • Priced starting from $1,900

There are several different FlashRunner Series from which to choose that are easily integrated into your production environment adapting to various ATE, ICT and other test fixtures.

For more information about FlashRunner, contact Intrinsic Quality today:

(847)258-5598      or     info@intrinsicquality.com

 

 

 


High Praise from a Major OEM

February 5, 2015

Intrinsic Quality recently delivered a custom engineered test fixture to a major OEM. During our quality control meeting, we asked the Vice President “What is Your Impression of IQ?”. His response wasn’t unexpected, after all, we know our standards for quality engineering are paramount, but we were happy to hear his high praise: “our perception of Intrinsic Quality is that you make darn good fixtures”.

Intrinsic Quality ICT 2Custom FlashRunner Fixture

While this test fixture project wasn’t unusual for IQ, our challenge was to facilitate the placement and firmware programming of a 4 pin connector consumer control within a conveyor assembly station. IQ engineered a quick mount fixture that takes the operator just a few seconds to click the consumer control module into place, lower the connector cover and load the firmware. The operator then places the loaded consumer control module into the System Control Panel on conveyor. Our IQ Test Fixture incorporated FlashRunner™ a high-performance, standalone In-System Programmer which instantly loaded the OEM’s firmware. Our achievement in this fixture was remarkable – we had created a fixture where in one smooth motion the operator could place the component into the System Control Panel. So successful that each operator is now able to operate two IQ test fixtures simultaneously and maintain the conveyor assembly’s speed. With IQ’s fixture this OEM was able to boost their manufacture to over 25000 units a day.

Every company is striving to improve its reputation with their customers.  Hearing acknowledgement of your reputation feels like you’ve just knocked one out of the park.  But we asked that question also to explore other ways we might serve this OEM  – Yes, we make darn good test fixtures but we also take pride in the quality of our test executive, reliable measurement software, and test data management.  Call IQ today at 847-258-5598  and let’s talk about your ATE needs.        


Flash Programming Station In Action

January 21, 2015

This morning as I was getting out of my car, the alarm sounded, reminding me that I had left the headlights on. My first thought was gratitude that some engineer had cared to solve that problem for me.

IQPS Flash Programming Station

 

Then I felt a little flow of pride as I thought that this was just the sort of solution Intrinsic Quality was involved in. I pictured a high volume automotive factory with circuit board assemblies flowing through the assembly process. I thought of the IQPS programming stations we had delivered for just such a factory. There, the PCBAs would move in a panel to our printed circuit board station for programming. Our flash programming station would be easily loaded and actuate the embedded FlashRunner to quickly program the entire panel.

 

Since this facility has four programming stations each using a FlashRunner that was capable of flashing four processors simultaneously, they were able to keep pace with the rigorous production schedule. Should the panel have more than four assemblies, our microcontroller flash programming station would automatically multiplex the FlashRunner to up to sixteen sites.

It was just a brief set of thoughts, but still a “pick me up” on the way to work. It helps to be able to take pride in what you do. And it is a good feeling to experience the benefits of your own product.  Call Intrinsic Quality today at 847-258-5598  to discuss your Flash Programming needs.


Intrinsic Quality’s Flash Programming Station – IQPS Revealed

September 25, 2014

Flexible Parallel Programming Fits High Volume Manufacturing

Intrinsic Quality’s Flash Programming Station can substantially reduce manufacturing costs.

Background

Medium to high volume manufactures are pressed to reduce manufacturing costs while retaining maximum flexibility.  One process step in manufacturing a microcontroller based printed circuit board assembly is getting correct firmware into the flash memory of the microcontroller.  There are several options for this so called flashing of the micro, each with advantages and disadvantages.

 

One of the process techniques often selected is In System Programming (ISP).  ISP refers to flashing the micro after it has been assembled onto its circuit board.  Using ISP has the advantage of last minute programming which provides desired flexibility.  ISP also eliminates the extra cost of buying preprogrammed parts.  ISP can be integrated into the production process either by adding the programming to a production tester or adding a separate process step.

 

When production volumes increase, the beat rate, takt of the production line becomes a critical issue.  Often production test (ICT or Functional) struggles to keep pace with a balanced line.  Flashing a sizeable file into the micro can be a time consuming process, so adding the programming time to already stressed production testers spells trouble.

 

Flash Programming Station Features:

Having a separate process step requires a dedicated programming station.  The features necessary at this station have a commonality with features at each of the manufacturing steps.

  • Setup and change-over should be quickly and easily accomplished by factory personnel.
  • The use of the equipment by line operators should be intuitive and require a minimum of training.
  • The programming and handling operation must be less than the takt to keep pace with line beat rate.
  • The equipment must be durable and easily maintained.
  • Addition of new boards, devices or firmware must be easily accommodated
  • The cost of the equipment should be modest
  • The equipment should be able to program various devices from various manufacturers with a common programming API.

 

Intrinsic Quality’s IQPS Programming Station effortlessly meets all of these requirements:

Introducing the IQ Programming Station:

 

TIQPShe architecture of the IQPS is specifically designed to meet the requirements for cost effective, high reliability and versatile manufacturing equipment.  The concept is simple.  Use a Windows PC, a high quality fixture receiver with interchangeable bed of nails fixtures, and couple this to a powerful universal ISP programmer.  The programmer, the station sensors and displays and the DUT will require proper power and control so the IQPS adds power supplies, switching, measurement and sourcing so that the final station has the resources necessary to do the job.

 

Call Intrinsic Quality today to discuss how our Engineering Team can respond to your needs: (847) 258-5598

 

 

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Making LED Test a Breeze

May 31, 2013
Feasa LED analyser with Brass Tubing

Click to enlarge.

Feasa Analyzer – Nearly Effortless LED Testing:

 

Recently Intrinsic Quality visited with a major manufacturer of electronic interface panels. They were looking to have a PCB assembly tested with 18 LEDs mounted. They were concerned about the ease of implementing LED test and were not interested in changing their current testers. Instead, they wanted an easy to set up secondary test station for the functional testing of the LEDs on assemblies.

Feasa GUI

Click to enlarge.

 

 

Setting up the test will be a breeze. The test parameters can be set using the Feasa analyser software utilities’ “Auto-Learn” feature. This will take the readings of a known good board and use those settings as the test specifications. Tolerences can be set either numerically or by percentage. The software has a friendly user interface and can be enabled for data logging.

Implementation of  functional LED test is expected to improve the manufacturer’s throughput while decreasing the number of defective units shipped – all easily accomplished with Feasa LED analyser hardware and software. Additional information about Feasa products is located at IntrinsicQuality.com/feasa

Feasa Implemenation

Click to enlarge.