Test & Measurement

Test solution heads off component obsolescence problems

28th June 2021
Mick Elliott

ECO on the Fly is a new concept from Digitaltest on how to continue testing boards during times of supply chain interruptions and necessary board design changes caused by component obsolescence.

Supply chain disruptions, delivery stops and component obsolescence are causing major problems for many electronics manufacturers and EMS providers.

Since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the global supply chain has been severely affected.

According to a recent survey by Dimensional Research and Supplyframe, 53 % of product launches have been delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19, 35 % have had to redesign products to replace components that are no longer available, and 37 % reported that component costs have increased.

Change is the only constant - so a strategy is needed on how to respond flexibly to this change.

Design changes to electronic assemblies, so-called ECO's (Engineering Change Orders) are necessary when discontinued components have to be replaced and the geometry of an assembly changes as a result.

Now, not only the test program, but also the fixture must be changed manually and this is error-prone, time-consuming, costly and interrupts production.

In the worst case, the fixture cannot be modified at all and a new fixture with a new test program must be created or ordered, resulting in even longer downtimes and costs.

Because of these many component bottlenecks, it is also usually not just one electronically assembled PCB, but many different ones with respective fixtures and test programmes.

Costs can rise exponentially very quickly!

With ECO on the Fly, Digitaltest has developed a procedure that combines the bed of nail test with the flying probe test and in which C-LINK, theCAD/CAM software, works out the delta of the two layout BOM variants.

With the data generated, the fixtures and programs can be modified and, as before, the boards can be tested on the bed of nail test systems and now only the delta still needs to be tested on a Condor Flying Probe.

If the test program is a Digitaltest program, a test program can be automatically created here and the Condor Flying Probe now only contacts the nets that cannot be reached with the bed of nail fixture. The test results are now easily merged by barcode so that the PCB or panel gets a complete failure report.

This Flying Probe station can be set up both inline and stand-alone and can also be applied to existing fixtures from other bed of nail test systems on the market, as C-LINK is applicable independently of the test system software in use.

Users can now handle all ECOs that occur on different boards with just one new test station, the Condor Flying Probe. This allows flexible and fast reactions to obsolescence, supply chain problems and component bottlenecks in the future.

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