The importance of fast, thorough production testing while driving down manufacturing costs continues to be a key driver in a business’s ability to compete. Increased product complexity, tightly integrated designs, and the demand for higher manufacturing yields are challenges that must all be addressed. Finding test instruments that can keep pace with these challenges, while providing high reliability, is a critical step in reaching today’s increasingly competitive manufacturing goals.
In this application note, we discuss the contributions of Keysight’s E5080B ENA Series vector network analyzer to drive down the cost of the test in production lines.
Table of Content
The product life-cycle of today’s new product development has been getting shorter, along with the continuous pressure for product price reduction in the market. The dual challenge of reducing equipment maintenance costs while meeting product quality goals is undeniable, and there is only one way to win: Reduce both the cost of ownership and reduce the cost of test.
The total cost of ownership (TCO)
The total cost of ownership (TCO) is defined to be the total cost to own and operate a piece of equipment over its useful life for testing. There are two core elements in the TCO; capital expenses (acquisition cost) and operating expenses. The following lists the elements, often included in the operating expenses:
Cost of Test (COT)
The cost of the test (COT) is defined as the total cost spent for equipment in the testing process in production lines at a specific timing (e.g. test and measurement equipment, automatic component handling machines). COT varies during the useful life of the equipment. Figure 1 illustrates the change of COT from t0 to t3. At the acquiring timing t0, COT consists of capital and initial operating expenses like training and education in addition to other costs (a). At t1, the capital expenses remain as depreciation expenses, but initial operating expenses are removed. After t2, capital expenses are removed, and maintenance expenses are the majority of the COT (b). This maintenance cost will increase at some time when the product obtains a discontinued status and the official maintenance service from an equipment supplier ends(c).
Thus, COT is the expense required for testing and measuring a device under test (DUT) like equipment, component, and module to specify and assure the performance and quality.
Manufacturing costs continue to decrease as manufacturers strive to meet market prices and remain competitive. Manufacturing costs are now about one-fifth of that in the early 1990s. However, the COT has not changed and is almost the same as it was forty years ago because production line test and measurement requirements have become more complex to test more advanced technology and performance. Companies have gradually cut costs and lead times. It is crucial not to compromise product quality while driving down the cost of the test. High-quality products are critical to maintaining the company’s competitive edge.
In the total cost of a product, Keysight estimates that the cost spent in the production line is about 12% on average. COT occupies one-third of this cost and reaches 4%. Driving down the cost of tests is the key factor to winning the business in this very competitive market.
COT is influenced and varied by the performance and quality of the testing and the measurement equipment used in the production lines. The formula in figure 3 is used to approach the COT by a structured method.
Development costs (D$) represent the cost to design and develop a test station. It is necessary to determine the software, fixture, and necessary equipment for every test point and troubleshoot the process. Additionally, it is also important to consider what documents need to be made, evaluate the quality, design of technician labor rates, and system management.
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