The Advantages of Universal Test Stations

In an earlier post, we covered options for functional test system architecture. In this post, we will take a deeper dive into the advantages of one of those options – the universal test station. 

Here are advantages of a universal test station:

Lower test cost

  • Design, build and debug the test station once.  Then leverage again and again.
  • Don’t buy a new test instrument set for each new DUT.  Re-use and better utilize what you already have in your universal test station.
  • Just add a new fixture and test software application for each new DUT.
    • Re-use the same software template as a starting point and re-use instrument-control software as each new program uses the same test hardware over and over.
    • Leverage the same template fixture design as a starting point for fixtures. 
    • In other words, don’t start from scratch each time.  Leverage the common platform to allow you to focus on what is unique about each DUT and its test.
  • Build duplicate universal test stations as usage increases.  No additional design costs.  Just build another test rack and continue to leverage the well-thought-out design you already have.
  • Increase tester utilization because whereas the dedicated test station might sit idle between production builds, you can keep the universal test station busy by testing several different DUTs.
  • Spread the cost of the test rack hardware over many DUTs.

Higher test quality

  • Improve software quality by re-using code that has already been debugged and verified.
  • Use high quality and high-performance instruments that you might not be able to justify for a tester dedicated to a single DUT.
  • Improve signal integrity by using a mass interconnection solution to connect DUTs and fixtures to the instruments rather than cables that may not be properly connected and that wear with use.
  • Design and build a tester verification fixture and software program to test the test rack.
  • Verify the test rack is working at the start of each shift.
  • When the tester develops a problem, quickly detect and troubleshoot it.  Get the tester back up and running with minimal delay.

More scalable for future enhancements

  • Include space for additional instruments in the test rack
  • Include unused connection points in the mass interconnect system to accommodate new instrument connections
  • Refine your software application template over time to provide a rich set of features and ease of use for operators.

We will take a similar look at the advantages of other functional test architectures in future posts.  In the meantime, contact us if you would like to discuss your specific test requirements and how SSP can help.