It doesn’t matter whether your business is purchasing printed circuit boards (PCBs), sub-components for a larger overall assembly, consumables, or even stand-alone products, at some point, if you are using China manufacturing, that Chinese supplier will have to perform a functional test as part of a sound and proactive quality assurance (QA) process. Otherwise, your company risks receiving product it cannot use. Given the lead times on delivery for overseas shipments, that is not the type of situation any company wants to find itself in.
Functional tests focus on the sub-component or PCB itself. It is considered a stand-alone test, one where the impetus is on checking how a given PCB functions by providing a given input and measuring its output. In terms of sub-components, and or consumables in a larger overall assembly, the focus is on making sure those sub-components and consumables fit the final industrial finished good’s overall envelop.
Functional tests might be considered a critical first step to overall integration of small sub-components within a larger assembly. Ultimately, the testing is to make sure that there is no deviation in fit, form and function and that the sub-assembly or sub-component will not pose any future assembly problems, either for the Chinese manufacturer or the company importing those individual parts from China.
There are three essential functional tests: “Sanity/Smoke” tests, “Usability/Fit” tests, and finally, “Regression” tests. We will explain each one in detail.
A sanity/smoke test can be considered a fail-safe test, one where the manufacturer performs what amounts to a “double-check” on the sub-component’s overall concept and design. The test measures whether the designer applied logic towards the overall design of the sub-component. In many instances, a sanity/smoke test is the first and most important step before proceeding to full scale production, where more involved tests focus on performance and fit.
This test typically focuses on defining a given set of operating parameters and ensuring that the sub-component meets those parameters. Ultimately, it is about ensuring that the sub-component “fits” within the larger overall assembly and that it performs properly with other inputs. The focus is on ensuring that the sub-component can be considered easy-to-use or easy-to-install.
These tests focus on the sub-components overall life-cycle given exposure to certain variables, ones that typically erode the sub-component’s usage over time. In terms of those aforementioned PCBs, this type of test would measure whether certain inputs might force a failure within the PCB. This failure could be caused by software glitches that ultimately cause a regression on the part in question.
China manufacturing has dominated in a number of areas over the last two decades largely due to an extremely low labor cost. While labor is not the only factor of production, it is a critical one. Other costs of production include productivity, efficiency, raw material costs, overhead and the type of markup a Chinese company is willing to take for its gross profit on sales.
It is critical that some or all of these aforementioned tests are performed in order to ensure compatibility for the final assembly or industrial finished good. ITI Manufacturing makes sure that all components and products are seen through the necessary functional testing, and if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us today!