A recent small survey has asserted that such challenges can reduce productivity and design efficiency.

Nearly all companies that design and develop electronic products experience costly and preventable delays related to test equipment misconfiguration, maintenance or training issues, according to test equipment maker Keysight Technologies in reference to a third-party survey conducted by Dimensional Research.

Key findings from the survey of 305 R&D engineers across multiple industries such as the technology and telecom sectors, include:

  • Test-equipment-related problems caused delays for almost all respondents: 97% of respondents said they experienced project delays caused by test equipment issues. Equipment failures requiring repair were the most common, cited by 63% of respondents, followed by equipment misconfigurations (56%) and equipment being out of calibration (50%).
  • Costs of lost days due to test equipment problems were high: 53% said their companies lost over US$100,000 per day when R&D teams could not make progress due to test and measurement equipment problems. Twelve percent of respondents said their company lost over US$500,000 per day.
  • Test and measurement equipment challenges were a regular problem: 95% of respondents said in a typical month they needed to contact their test equipment vendors’ technical support team at least once. Meanwhile, 59% of respondents said they experienced six or more technical support issues per month, with 13% claiming more than 20 issues per month.
  • The businesses impact of equipment problems: 53% of survey respondents said product yield was negatively affected by test equipment failing to work properly. Forty-seven percent said a product was rejected by a buyer and 45% said they had experienced increased product returns. Twenty-eight percent experienced product recalls. This directly resulted in a hit to their quality record and reputation.
  • The value of expert test-related support services: 90% of respondents said they would value access to technical support expertise from outside the organization. Assistance with troubleshooting an issue was the most desired service (cited by 54%), followed by answers to technical questions and discussion (53%), understanding how a particular test or equipment feature works (49%), and calibration services (46%).

Stated Ted Burns, Global Director of KeysightCare, Keysight: “Manufacturing test and R&D engineers are truly on the front line of this battle. In the past, they had the time to become experts on test equipment and standards. However, with test matrices spiraling, and use-cases vastly increasing, they simply don’t have time to research test equipment functionality, how to optimize test configurations, or how to troubleshoot complex tests in complicated test environments. The result is a reactive, firefighting approach, which causes expensive delays, loss of revenues and engineering teams resorting to late nights and undesired weekend work as their only schedule mitigation.”