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Automated Test Equipment: A Game Changer in Auto Manufacturing

Mar 20, 2024


The automotive industry is subject to extremely rigorous safety standards that other industries don’t have to manage. Of course, these standards are essential for passenger safety and ensure that vehicles perform according to specifications. Nevertheless, these standards impose a significant burden on everyone involved in auto manufacturing. Whether you’re a major manufacturer or supply a single part, your business can benefit from using automated test equipment.

Automated Test Equipment: A Game Changer in Auto Manufacturing

The Need for Upgrade in Testing

The current state of testing in automotive manufacturing is one of change. As vehicle manufacturing trends more towards electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, there are new complex assemblies and electronic devices that require additional testing methods. For example, battery packs require thorough testing to ensure their safety as they can lead to hazardous fires in the event of a critical failure. The sheer number of tests that need to be performed is already vast and still growing. 

Another challenge in automotive testing today is that companies are trying to gather more data from their tests. However, manual testing makes it difficult to collect data consistently. Even with machines that output data reliably, manually gathering, curating, and processing data can lead to errors being unintentionally introduced. Auto manufacturing companies need ways to expedite testing without sacrificing on quality. Test data likewise needs to be handled using automation to reduce the lag between testing and manufacturing adjustments.

Automated Test Equipment (ATE) occupies a prominent position by optimizing production tests to comply with strict safety and efficiency criteria. In response to growing expectations for excellence and dependability, the automotive industry relies on Automated Test Equipment (ATE) to offer effective solutions. ATE systems facilitate accurate and consistent testing procedures, mitigating human mistakes and elevating the overall quality of products.

ATE expedites the product development cycle by minimizing the need for manual testing and reducing human involvement in laborious testing activities. This enables engineers to allocate their time and efforts towards configuring and evaluating test outcomes instead.


Advantages of using Automated Test Beds in Physical Testing


  • Automated test equipment addresses both problems with a single solution. Automated test beds can consistently apply a battery of tests to a given component according to the parameters you’ve provided. You will likely need to get a series of test beds for different measurements. There are unique test beds for determining tensile strength, compression and deformation, torque, and more.
  • Efficiency gains and less human intervention: ATE accelerates the process of product development by minimizing the need for manual testing, resulting in increased efficiency and reduced human intervention. This allows engineers to focus more on configuring and analyzing test outcomes.
  • Improved safety and reliability: In order to ensure that products meet the necessary function, performance, and safety standards, it is essential to continuously verify and validate (V&V) electrical and electronic systems in cars as they become increasingly complex. ATE (Automated Test Equipment) ensures the reliability of products and helps achieve quality objectives..
  • Saving money and cutting down on time to market: ATE helps reduce time to market and save costs by facilitating faster and more precise testing, making it particularly beneficial for industries that produce high volumes of products, such as electronics and automotive sectors. By shortening the product development cycle, ATE enables companies to bring new products to the market quickly and efficiently, resulting in increased competitiveness and profitability.
  • Improved adaptability and flexibility: ATE enables the testing of various systems, components, and processes involved in the supply chain, thereby reducing the likelihood of errors and enhancing productivity. This flexibility allows manufacturers to swiftly adapt to changing consumer preferences and market demands, enabling quicker responses.
  • Enhanced traceability and transparency: Automated inspection plays a crucial role in ensuring the traceability and transparency of products and processes throughout the entire supply chain. Maintaining trust and a good reputation with stakeholders and customers is of utmost importance.
  • Decreased human error: By implementing Automated Test Equipment (ATEs), the possibility of human error is reduced to a minimum, thereby preventing inaccurate test results or product defects. This ensures reliable and consistent outcomes, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of manufactured products.
  • Improved accuracy: ATEs provide test results that are more precise and accurate compared to manual testing methods. This enhanced precision and accuracy enable producers to meet the growing demand for high-quality products while ensuring that even the most advanced features comply with legal regulations..

Virtual Testing: Accelerating the Design Process

While physical testing is always necessary, you can only start testing once you have a physical prototype to place into a test bed. Furthermore, the actual production unit may vary from your prototype. The product development cycle means that testing can only occur after design and initial fabrication. With virtual testing, however, you can accelerate the process and start testing before you even begin prototyping. As a result, you can implement testing throughout the entire production cycle.

How could continuous testing help your product development? Suppose you are trying to win a bid to produce a part for a new vehicle design. You could draft up several unique designs and virtually test them all to see which holds the most promise. Then, after you perform physical tests, you can compare your virtual results with real-world data. The closer your results match, the better your manufacturing processes are. Ultimately, you elevate your base quality level with virtual testing.

Unlike physical test beds, virtual testing doesn’t have to take up any space on the factory floor. In the past, you might have had to purchase an expensive server to run the complex calculations that virtual testing calls for. Today, cloud computing can perform your tests, and you only pay for the processing power you use. Up-front costs are limited to setting up the digital environment and programming the tests in code. From there, your testing can be fully automated.

Since cloud computing uses powerful data center processors, your tests will be completed faster than if you had your own hardware anyway, making the cloud the best solution. Another advantage is that your data is kept in the cloud where it can quickly be analyzed and help you understand your product’s potential for fabrication.

Enhancing Data Analysis with ATE

Whether you plan on only using physical testing or a mix of physical and virtual testing methods, you’ll need a way to process the data output by your machines. Rather than giving this task to your engineers or data analysts, automotive manufacturing intelligence systems can do the hard calculations for you. By analyzing the results of many tests, these programs can help you understand your product’s performance limitations and ideal operating parameters, as well as your plant’s consistency across products.

This software can run in the cloud as well, making it easy to process data collected from virtual testing in the same cloud environment. For physical tests, you can link the data output of the test bed with a local computer which relays information to the cloud. By bringing all of your test data together, you’ll get clearer insights about your manufacturing precision.

The Impact of Superior Testing on Sales

Ultimately, having consistent product quality will determine whether contracts are renewed or not. Manufacturers loathe problems with suppliers. Inconsistent test results lead to cost overruns as you have to test more of your output to ensure its usability, which reduces delivery times. Delivering faulty parts will erode trust between companies and cripple your chances of future deals. Better testing throughout the production cycle ensures you remain the best option.

Contact SAAB RDS to learn more about how we can help you implement better testing methods in your automotive business. Our experience and expertise in automated testing solutions means we can help you develop a tailored solution for your company and keep you ahead of the competition.