John’s Blog:

Test: Time to optimize the process

Few test engineers have time day-to-day to review new technology.  Of the many steps in PCB manufacturing, test is the last to be considered in the buying process, and typically is not considered for optimization.

Process improvement over the past 25 years has skyrocketed throughput. Component density and complexity have grown by orders of magnitude, and first pass yields are routinely 98 – 99%. Production equipment has increased speed, accuracy, and reliability. As an example, Pick and Place machines are sold by their CPH (chips per hour).  The industry has mastered delivering quality products quickly and efficiently. Processes are now beyond just adequate–efficiency is the new metric.

So what does this have to do with test?  That is just it—test has been glaringly absent from process improvement.  The industry still uses the same basic testers and fixtures common during the early 90’s.

“The industry still uses the same basic testers and fixtures common during the early 90’s.”

Why?  The old testers continue to work, but with the same efficiency they had in 1993.

What can managers do? Set goals for test process improvement like they do for other parts of the manufacturing process. Encourage long-term thinking so new equipment is not justified by one project.  Reward success so that test engineers experience positive incentives. Test is a step in the manufacturing process and we should expect continuous improvement, just as we do with the rest of the process.

CheckSum delivers best-in-class test efficiency.