Testing is a well known tool. It makes sure your products meet your requirements and your customers expectations. This is an important part of quality assurance for all kinds of products, ranging from mechanical or electrical components to electronics boards and complete machines. It is also valid both for testing during development and in production testing. So how can this be done in an efficient way?
Image: Automated inspection system for nuclear rod.
Larger test coverage in automated testing
Test coverage is a measure between 0 to 100%. Having 100% test coverage means you have tested your product in every possible way. In hardware testing of more or less complex products this is basically impossible. Still you want to have as high test coverage as possible. By automating tests this can be reached much easier than with manual testing.
For example testing error handling of a machine in an automated test system, you can simulate external events that occur. By looping this with different timing, you can actually achieve several tests, since the error then occurs while the product is in different modes. This is one way of increasing test coverage with automated testing.
Better quality assurance and reduced costs
So by being able to test more of your products functionality, your quality assurance will be improved. You will find errors and bugs earlier, and most importantly before your customer finds them. This will reduce your total development or production costs as well as keep your reputation of delivering quality up.
Testing around the clock
A well designed automated test system can cover many tests and run by itself. Designing it to be robust is important for it to run stable without supervision. Moreover, in hardware testing both the hardware and software solution of the test system has to be robust. For example a test framework with stable software is key. Optimizing signal switching, configurations and the order of tests are other ways of making the test system efficient.
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Faster time to market with automated tests
In R&D, efficient automated testing as shown above can reduce your development time, since feedback to the development team is quicker. This will shorten your cycles between development and test. This agile way of working improves the whole team’s efficiency and reduces the time to market for new products.
In production, the benefits of efficient automated testing is not a faster time to market. But the key here is still finding the errors early. In this case it will reduce the total production cost.
Efficient and well planned testing will lead to higher quality, and automated testing is one way of achieving this. And in the end, it will improve your customers’ experience.