Although mobile electronic devices are assembled in highly automated processes, their touch screens and keys are generally still tested manually. Raahe, Finland-based equipment manufacturer PKC Electronics OY is determined to change that with the introduction two years ago of its Chameleon adaptive test platform.

Manufacturers of smartphones, tablet PCs or navigation devices like the Chameleon because it offers fast and reliable testing using different adapters. These tests include user-interface, speaker and microphone performance; touch screen swipe; and operation of side keys and switches.

“It is important to be able to offer turnkey test devices where all you have to do is quickly change the adapter for the different terminal formats, and retrieve the right software for the test routine at the touch of a button,” explains Kimmo Hyrynkangas, test solution business area manager at PKC. “Many end users need to change the adapters and associated programs twice a day on average.”

The trend of consumers quickly replacing electronic devices has forced manufacturers to shorten their product-development times. This, in turn, requires them to perform extensive product testing during the development phase, rather than do testing during development and production. Several tests are now integrated into a single test phase to guarantee fast throughput. Among these are display and touch sensitivity, audio and radio frequency, and a full analysis of the audio test results.

Equally important to device manufacturers are test devices that are small enough to use in production cells, but have enough capacity so the test process does not cause manufacturing bottlenecks. The compact Chameleon system meets both criteria, while also being able to perform multiple tests and analyze the test results on a single platform.

“This is exactly the flexible test device we require,” says Marko Anttila, operation manager at Elektrobit, a Finnish manufacturer of mobile devices and infotainment systems for vehicles. “Equipped with the corresponding adapters, the [device] allows [us] to quickly and reliably test even small and medium-sized series consisting of 10,000 to 100,000 units.”

A key component of the platform is the EXCM mini planar surface gantry from Festo Corp. The gantry covers a two-dimensional (X-Y) work space equivalent to a DIN A4 sheet, and features a recirculating toothed belt drive, and EGSL electric and DGSL pneumatic linear slides with connected motors. It also comes with a pre-parameterized drive and controller package that allows quick and easy installation into the Chameleon.

After manually positioning a mobile device in the test platform, the worker turns on the machine. The gantry moves to the device at a speed of up to 500 millimeters per second, with a repetition accuracy of ±0.05 millimeter. Touch and swipe tests are done first using the EGSL mini-stroke slide. A microphone and light cube (mounted to the DGSL slide) then perform audio, camera and display tests.

“The gantry appeared on the market at exactly the right time,” says Risto Mäkelä, chief engineer at PKC. “With [it], precise and fast positioning in tight installation conditions is now extremely easy.”

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