Get involved earlier in the testing process

Get involved earlier in the testing process

At SMTA Dallas, Andy Shaughnessy stopped by The Test Connection booth, to hear from Bert Horner why the company has evolved to spend more time educating and consulting with customers when it comes to testing. new designs.

Andy Shaughnessy: I’m here at SMTA Dallas with Bert Horner. How are you?

Bert Horner: I’m well. How are you sir?

Shaughnessy: I’m well. We’re here at The Test Connection booth and Bert, you were telling me how things went for you as a company. You are doing more with educating the client, acting more as a consultant. Tell me about it.

Horner: We are more involved in consulting in the sense of assisting with design to test new designs, as well as looking at coverage of existing test sets due to heavily populated boards and different technologies, such as stiff flex . They raise some challenges. The biggest challenge with more populated boards is getting test access to those assemblies. We try to educate customers on the use of connectors and the selection of non-traditional test slots to increase the coverage of boards already designed. This involves training for design, tasks, etc.

Shaughnessy: You have to educate the consumer because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know?

Horner: Exactly. When you have an already solid design, the assembly challenge is to put testability later. There are many test platforms – the Keysight solution paradigm for ICs offers workarounds – but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Now you are leveraging different tests and inspections, and that comes back to why we use ASTER TestWay to help us review coverage, even at early stages like the design phase, so you know if you have 50% coverage or you have 100% coverage.

Shaughnessy: You prefer to be involved from the start, don’t you?

Horner: It’s true, earlier is better, but sometimes you have to play the hand you’ve dealt. Here it’s about notifying the customer of coverage gaps and finding other places to get that coverage, whether it’s a functional test, inspection, or other location. .

Shaughnessy: Do you end up doing more or less consulting in some of these positions?

Horner: Exactly. Part of the sales process is consulting, and you try to turn that into a business opportunity, but with some partners and clients, you’re playing the role you’re given. You probably see more high density boards and more challenges with rigid-flex in the industry as well.

Shaughnessy: How much of this is rigid-flex?

Horner: About 50% of our business is hard-flex and probably another 25% is a high density board which is smaller, with everything loaded onto that board. Access is a luxury that we don’t have, but if they put the test methodologies in there – if it’s a highly digital board and they’re using JTAG or boundary scan – then you can use a tool like an XJTAG or a Keysight edge scanner to take advantage of this coverage. You do not need to access the physical tests.

Shaughnessy: It’s interesting that you do so much rigid-flex because it was hard to do for so long and the cost was just prohibitive.

Horner: It’s become mainstream and a lot of the military, because of RF microwaves and high-speed digital, you’ll see the origami, the assembly getting into these chassis; it’s not a science, it’s an art. But you see real estate challenges eroding fast.

Shaughnessy: If you are testing flex, what are you dealing with?

Horner: Something that’s really thin.

Shaughnessy: How do you test this?

Horner: You need some sort of support mechanism. If it’s an in-circuit or flying probe, you want something that holds it firm while it’s being tested. But if you’re doing a functional test, as long as you connect via connectors or access, you can do it with a fairly simple jig.

Shaughnessy: Interesting stuff.

Horner: I think the trend is going in that direction. We see things being populated on rigid boards. It’s not just the rigid-flex circuit and the flex circuit where you bend it; you actually see components placed on the flex circuit causing problems for the flying tester. If they put passives in there, but if they can give you access to different testing technologies, like flying or in-circuit tester, any type of bed-of-nails type testing, you can touch it. You’re starting to see people leveraging inspection, the AOI type of views.

Shaughnessy: What would be your customers’ biggest problems when they come to see you?

Horner: Basically, “I don’t know much about design. Here is a drawing that comes from a designer. The test engineer will hand it to us, and their biggest complaint is that they want close to 100% test coverage. The biggest challenge is that you don’t have access to it and you don’t have the ability to do so. With flex circuits, the easiest thing is whether you have physical access to the board. There’s some logistics involved, like leaving the fumbles on the board so that if you’re trying to teach them to do that, it makes your job on the flying prober a bit easier. But if they don’t have it there, you have to find a workaround, and that’s a challenge.

Shaughnessy: Interesting. Would you like to add anything else?

Horner: We’re seeing more of that with testability and more people programming test devices. These are all things they need to consider before they start implementing this when testing. The test can do all of that, but if they don’t put it in early, it makes applying a challenge.

Shaughnessy: That’s very cool.

Horner: Thanks Andy. Thank you for your visit.

Shaughnessy: It was very interesting.

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