Monday, November 19, 2007

Outsourcing a test station, part 1

Over the past few months one of my major projects has been building a test system that we are shipping to a contract manufacturer in Asia. The station is similar to our in-house systems, but different considerations were needed because it will be operating independently of our system. It has been a lot of work to this point, but it is finally nearing completion.

This is not the first time I have built a station that was shipped to a contract manufacturer - when I worked for Dupont several years ago our contract manufacturer had the equipment in house to build our products but didn't have the equipment or software to test it. I think this underlines something unique about test engineering: it is oftentimes easier to build something than it is to test it. When you are testing something you are verifying that what you built meets certain requirements. You must have confidence in the data, so extra care goes into the measurements. I think THAT is why test systems are built by the contracting firm and then shipped out - often the test system is specialized to suit your product, and you have to trust the data.

If the schedule holds, the station will ship out sometime next month, and I will fly out to help set it up and verify it after the new year. I will write more about this experience as the project progresses.

I do NOT expect to post more to the blog the rest of this week. Thanksgiving is coming up, and I have plans.

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