Assembly Blog

Hoffmann on Testing: Software for Everything...Really?

If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions are not likely to be very good.

February 14, 2012

A wise engineer once remarked that, “If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions are not likely to be very good.” We engineers buy into that, right?

After all, we are logic-driven, faithfully following good mechanical and algorithmic processes to an appropriate solution. In this case, designing a leak test or solving a test problem on a high-speed production line. Then someone brings a software guy in the room...

Unfortunately, some technical types start out with the wrong assumption: That software can fix problems often caused by product dynamics or defects in tooling. When the root problem is mechanical in nature, you have to get to the underlying issues.

Still, they persist in seeking an easy way out—like using software to compensate for mechanical factors they probably don’t understand. This assumption is likely to introduce further errors into the process.

This will surely be the case anytime a fixed off-set is used to compensate for a variable effect, such as seal creep in a leak test fixture or fluctuating signals from a damaged torque sensor.

When an arbitrary function is used to compensate for a variable effect of indeterminate function, such as temperature compensation using an average of readings, well, those assumptions are probably not going to be fruitful, either.

As engineers we should prefer conclusions based on solid analysis of the actual situation. That’s why upfront consideration of real-world test requirements, which may include detailed feasibility and correlation studies, will always yield a best-practice approach.

The beauty of such analysis is that it lowers production line inefficiencies, while being more cost-effective. It’s also a process and benefit that software can’t provide. One of the more straightforward ways to optimize production uptime is by adding electronically self-calibrating leak testers that automatically validate entire test systems while they are in operation.

These are the kind of things you can’t do with off the shelf software. Really.

Jacques Hoffmann is president of InterTech Development Co., which designs and builds equipment for leak testing, functional testing and test-centric assembly. He can be reached at 847-679-3377.


Editor’s note: “Hoffmann on Testing” is part of a series of guest spots by industry experts that will appear regularly on ASSEMBLY’s blog page. Check back frequently to read more commentaries from Jacques, as well as contributions on automated assembly systems, machine vision, robotics and ergonomics.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Behind the Scenes at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant

People are the heart and soul of the 2012 Assembly Plant of the Year. This slideshow shows some of the men and women who build three different types of electrified vehicles alongside traditional gas-powered cars on the auto industry’s most flexible assembly line—Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI. Photos courtesy Ford Motor Co.


 Live from The ASSEMBLY Show, Bob Wood, president of ECI Spinnomatic, talks about his company’s newest product: a fully automated riveting cell equipped with a rotary indexing table, a six-axis robot, an orbital forming unit, and laser sensors. 

More Podcasts

Assembly Magazine

assembly may

2015 May

The 2015 May Assembly includes our cover story on Lean Lifts Assembly at Toyota plus much more. Check it out today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Will the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement be good for U.S. manufacturers?
View Results Poll Archive


Welding: Principles & Practices

This text introduces students to a solid background in the basic principles and practices of welding.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


facebook_40px twitter_40px  youtube_40pxlinkedin_40pxgoogle plus  

Assembly Showrooms

ASSEMBLY Showrooms