Physical Distancing – Challenge and Opportunity

Electronics workers in factory environment doing manual tasks

Written by John VanNewkirk

Published May, 6 2020

The Pandemic has changed everything. I can hardly remember what life was like just a few months ago, Before Corona (BC). As we prepare to restart, it is obvious that the virus has also changed work.

Demand for products has dropped and every factory must accommodate physical distancing into their operations. These simultaneous challenges will test our creativity and force us to change the processes that we’ve relied on for years. Most manufacturers will reduce headcount to cut costs. And the best companies will use the crisis to improve their operations, cost position, and efficiency.

Most manufacturers will reduce headcount to cut costs. And the best companies will use the crisis to improve their operations, cost position, and efficiency.

Electronics factories are full of manufacturing equipment and they are full of people.  Implementing physical distancing is a tremendous challenge, especially for manual operations.  Traditionally, the test cell contains the most manual operations on the manufacturing floor and, like other manual processes, it is a byproduct of difficulty in automating and keeping up with line speed.

The current test process issues are magnified for highly panelized boards. Smaller size and more complex functionality make test expensive, time-intensive, and inefficient. It also relies heavily on human handling. This also magnifies the opportunity for savings and operations improvements.

Test process automation can eliminate human handling and reduce costs, especially for panelized boards.  One high volume automotive electronics manufacturer demonstrated a cost reduction of over $500,000 for a single project while eliminating human handling and work-in-process inventory.

One high volume automotive electronics manufacturer demonstrated cost reduction of over $500,000 for a single project while eliminating human handling and work-in-process inventory.

In-line test can help your factory with physical distancing, cost reduction, and quality improvement.  Parallel test technology is so fast, it can be performed in-line. This eliminates the test cell, labor used to move boards, and test cell tooling. It also provides instantaneous feedback to your manufacturing line, greatly reducing scrap or rework.

Test processes have not improved at the same rate as manufacturing steps because they have been isolated in the test cell. That separation has hidden a huge process inefficiency that hinders our ability to improve efficiency and create physical distancing.

CheckSum’s new Parallel Functional Test technology allows manufacturers of highly-panelized boards to simultaneously test the entire panel of boards, making test 10, 20, or 30x faster.

A brief conversation with CheckSum will determine whether parallel test technologies will unlock savings and reduce labor in your operation. Call CheckSum to see if we can help you get back to work.