Improving efficiency and safety through automated test solutions

This month we caught up with John Blandy, Sales Manager of TestWorks Group Ltd.

TestWorks is an innovative technology company offering a comprehensive range of solutions, products and services in the field of electronic and mechanical design, manufacturing and test.

In this blog post, John discusses how the company is reacting to growing customer demand for custom electronics/PCB test solutions, which offer increased coverage at a reduced price. John also explains how they are developing automated test solutions to help keep operators and products safe when performing hipot/electrical safety testing.

How has the last twelve months been for you and how do you see the future?

Although some less significant parts of our business, such as in-circuit applications, continued a downward trend, our core custom test solutions business finished on target, which was a growth on the previous year of around 20 per cent, made up of new and repeat business.

Conditions are still tough but we see a good demand for custom functional test solutions. Although some larger organisations are retaining and/or growing their test development in-house, the general trend is still to outsource this activity.

What new product trends are there in the market, and what do you think are the key/core technologies that will enable these?

We address many disparate markets, from industrial control and safety to aerospace and medical, but the focus is generally on lowering product costs and providing higher performance at the same time. 

In terms of technology, this varies for each requirement, but for custom solutions we expect an increasing use of PXI-based instrumentation as this can provide faster test times within a compact format, as compared with "traditional" instruments.

What are customers' demands for the near future and how are you going to respond to them?

Primarily, higher test coverage and lower test costs. We respond to these by using the most appropriate hardware for each application, but there is a balance to be struck between, for example, the most comprehensive test coverage and the overall solution cost. We are also seeing a strong demand for increased operator safety when handling products tested at hazardous voltages and have developed and built several interlocked enclosures of varying sizes and formats.

What sort of product developments can we expect to see from you in the future?

Again, this varies depending on the application, but we have seen a general increase in requirements for automated handling and are involved in projects incorporating this. We have also developed a number of systems capable of automating hipot/flash testing, and are seeing a strong demand for this, often incorporated into the same functional test platform.

Where do you see your market moving to?

In addition to traditional PCB/module test, we expect to see an increase in requirements for sub assembly and final unit test. With our recent acquisition of a design group last year, TestWorks can now also offer full product design in addition to test, and through technology developed by this group, this is expected to open up new markets for us in areas such as global tracking and monitoring systems.

Image by Michael Wyszomierski

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Written by John Blandy

John describes himself as a professional in the test & measurement industry helping engineers develop and deploy high-performance electronic test and verification systems.