Is better software the route to higher yields and lower gauge R&R in test-intensive assemblies? Probably not.

If someone tells you his leak test system is superior because of its control software, kick the tires, so to speak. In many, if not most, applications, it is the hardware, not the software, that makes or breaks the ability to get high throughput without compromising gauge R&R.

For example, test fixtures might not seem as sexy as software claiming to be “big data” friendly, but when it comes to leak and functional testing of parts, they often matter more. Or, consider that when you have multiple part configurations requiring testing, the make or break factor in yields is likely to be how smart your test chassis design is in terms of accommodating quick changeovers. In most cases, the fastest test systems are ones that use direct measurement from sensors instead of data interpolations, and dynamic testing methods with early pass-fail systems, a.k.a. dynamic leak testing.

How does software matter?

Test instrument software must be flexible enough to meet application specifications. Software used at a higher level must seamlessly integrate with assembly systems and all other software used in monitoring plant operations.

There is no one-size-fits-all software for test-centric assembly. What works best for Company A might not be the best solution for Company B, because its test requirements vary or the overall systems that the manufacturer relies on require a different strategy for integration with test software. Anyone who tries to tell you differently is trying to rationalize a proprietary software design that won’t matter much and will likely cost you more—upfront or in lower yields.

Any reputable vendor of leak detection equipment will know how, why and when to use third-party hardware and software with its leak test systems to ensure seamless integration with your networks and operations. A short list of systems to consider includes:

  • NI LabVIEW, Diadem, and RTOS FPGA HMI control systems.
  • Allen Bradley, Siemens, and OMRON PLCs.
  • Emerson control systems.
  • Cognex and Keyence machine vision systems.
  • Ethernet/IP, OPC, Modbus, Profibus, TCP/IP and BSD Sockets protocols.
  • SQL-compliant database systems.

Bottom line: There are many software options that are best-match for your test and assembly application. Look to testing application engineers who aren’t married to one particular software solution to help you find the best fit for your unique requirements.

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.