Soon all the dust will settle from a long election season, and we can finally get back to the important business of building up the economy. But look out! Whatever promises the politicians make, I can guarantee this: One of the first effects of higher demand is strain on the supply chain.

The good news is you can insulate your company against needless delays for leak and functional testing systems by focusing on two issues: validation and certification.

Today, quality systems must handle higher production rates, deliver lower costs, and process more data. This is driving the need to upgrade old quality systems or install new ones. The pressure is on for suppliers to produce more state-of-the-art components.

Even if suppliers can keep up, one of the leading causes of delays for a quality system is poor definition of needs. The sooner and more precisely you define your requirements for leak testing (such as automatic calibration or data security) the faster the build gets under way. A good partner with testing expertise can help you avoid gridlock in the specification stage.

Many of InterTech’s customers have already voted to eliminate manual calibration methods. An immediate benefit of automatic vs. manual calibration is to avoid staff or scheduling conflicts. ISO 9000 or other quality-system calibration methods demand consistency, which is jeopardized when people and human judgment are involved.

With all the constituents in today’s worldwide manufacturing base, the language and skill sets of the test-system users are other factors that affect the validation process. Many InterTech customers will attest that multilanguage touch-screens can solve problems before they even happen.

Other issues faced by manufacturers include process certification, which could involve e-records for the FDA, and regardless of industry affiliation, there can be a need to share test parameters downstream. Scenarios like these make it important to specify Ethernet IP functionality from the beginning to avoid delays in the system build.

When demand goes up, the supply chain will be even more prone to disruption, but you can control certain variables that affect how long it takes to get your leak and functional testing system built. Plan well for validation and certification, and bypass supply chain delays in any economy. 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.