Environmental Testing and Analysis
Environmental Testing involves testing a product to the limits of each possible use and storage environment. Environmental Testing is sometimes considered a subset of the DVT, but with many products, the environment is varied and complex enough that the two activities are treated separately. Environmental Analysis involves analyzing specific areas of a product that do not meet their environmental specifications and coming up methods for mitigating this.
A product must be able to operate in a wide variety of environments, both storage and operational. During the design phase, analysis can be performed to help determine a product’s ability to meet each of these environments. Then, during the testing phase, the product is taken through each of these environmental tests. If the product does not meet a certain environmental specification, or if the margins between the specification and the actual product operation are deemed not sufficient, then the failure must be analyzed and the product must be made more robust.
To assure that a product can operate in all possible customer environments.
VALUE TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
Prior to shipping a product, we must assure that the product not only meets all of its environmental specifications, but that there is sufficient margin in the product to deal with sample to sample variations, degradations over time, and varied customer use environments at and sometimes even beyond specifications. And for any issues that exist, the earlier we find them, the less expensive the fix will be.
An example of Reliability Integration during Environmental Testing is as follows:
Environmental Testing Integrates Well with HALT
During Environmental Testing, the product is tested to the specification range of each environment. This assures us that the product meets its specifications but does not provide information about design margins. HALT can be used to do this. In HALT, we can take over where we left off in Environmental Testing in a variety of different parameters, including temperature, temperature cycling, vibration, humidity, altitude, shock, and ESD. Often times, Environmental Testing and HALT can be combined to help save time and money.
We start with the environmental specification document and then write a test plan to test each of the different requirements called out in the specification document. This testing usually takes place before all of the test diagnostics are written, so often times special software must be written or special test equipment must be used to assure that the product is being functionally tested as much as possible. Also, outside test labs are usually required to simulate some or all of the environments.
The following case studies and options provide example approaches. We shall tailor our approach to meet your specific situation.
Outsourcing Environmental Testing
A Computer manufacturer had a detailed environmental test plan and wanted to outsource all of the environmental testing. We lined up the best test labs for their particular situation. Choosing test labs is a matter of matching a product’s test equipment needs, schedule, and budget. We have alliances with over a dozen of the area’s top test labs and get preferential pricing and availability.
Writing Environmental Test Plan to Match End-Use Environment
A Networking company was developing a product into a new mobile market. They did not understand all of the environmental conditions associated with this new market. We helped them write a test plan to cover each environmental condition and then helped them choose the best test labs for their particular situation.
Using Environmental Testing during Failure Analysis
A Medical company was experiencing failures in low level vibration, a parameter that simulated moving a product down the hallway of a hospital. We analyzed the failure, performed a resonance search and found the problem to be the mounting orientation for the product. We recommended a different mounting scheme, retested the product and proved that the new design had 50% better margins than the original design and 40% margin over the environmental specifications.