Protecting hardware and software assets sometimes take a back seat to product development and testing. In this blog, part of a continuing series, WATS sales director Vidar Grønås explains that a holistic approach to calibration of hardware for testing demands attention to detail and forms part of a successful strategy to ultimately protect workflow and production.
If there’s one thing that electronics manufacturers learn quickly, and sometimes the hard way, is that efficient testing is key to successful product introduction.
That said, there are often a number of steps that need to be taken to ensure that both hardware and software in the testing process is not just up to scratch. Defective connections or processes that are just plain wrong can slow down testing at best – and at worse potentially lead to expensive product defects.
Command and control is not just about getting connected but staying connected
In the manufacturing process, we need to ensure that we understand what has and has not, been done across a range of processes.
Command and control in your operation is not just about getting connected but staying connected. In this context, it means keeping track of all assets for testing and building products is essential.
For example, instruments, fixtures, and connectors are all expensive hardware that must work correctly in order to achieve repeatable and reliable results. This could include calibration of an instrument – guaranteed to produce results in a specification. In this case, you measure a known source such as voltage checking where ‘one voltage you are assured of’ you test against.
Keep track of the maintenance and calibration status of test assets
You may add some software with coefficients, or adjust screws for measuring that one volt. This approach covers everything you measure – frequency, strain, current, temperature…the list goes on. Typically based on a calibration interval of one year.
A preview version of Asset Management Module is available in WATS which allows users to keep track of the maintenance and calibration status of test assets.
Notifications alert users to indicate need for calibration or replacement of measurement pins. When testing a product you can ask a central database with the right information to show what the result should be. This importantly establishes that instruments are ready to use for tests. An API (Application Programming Interface) to communicate through – can add assets easily from anywhere, can communicate back to the database and update devices correctly.
Popups can be coded into the test programme to give information to operators. These reminders enable essential decisions to determine when something should be recalibrated. However, the pop-ups must be programmed by someone in order to work in this way.
Electronically labelling with an identifier (name) and then setting up a way to count the number of (1-5,000 or whatever) calibration intervals, typically on an annual basis, can be established for multiple devices. The count is used when a device has a limited number of connections between maintenance. When you calibrate, you can start from a new date – so a new connector will be reset to zero, for example. In this way, users have more control over assets when tested.
Importance of having control of assets cannot be underestimated
An automated system like this enables users to report the overall health status of assets or export the information through the API to a top-level maintenance tracking system.
The importance of having control of assets cannot be underestimated. It’s not just about the software, but making sure the device itself is fit for purpose. Hardware needs to be factored into all of the features that rely on integrity to perform.
Protecting these assets ensures efficiency and long term benefits to the operational bottom line!
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