Nearly all of today’s products require testing of one form or another. Testing needs range from development testing, functional testing, life testing, performance or conformance testing, quality testing, to product certification testing. Many of these tests require fast sophisticated test systems, a high accuracy, and a detailed evaluation of data. While the testing process is generally well-defined, the path towards the goal is yet to be determined.
One thing is certain: you will need specialized test equipment to perform your product testing. Two of the most popular testing models are in-house testing and outsourcing your testing to a lab. In this post, we’ll explore these testing models and the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you decide which is the best testing model for your application, as well as a third, hybrid option.
Should you invest in internally based test equipment or should you utilize a third party source? There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these testing models and applications where one may be a better fit than the other.
There are several options for acquiring test systems, including designing and manufacturing a system yourself, but the most common is to purchase equipment from a test system manufacturer.
Benefits of In-House Testing
Expertise in Your Product
No one knows your product like you do. With knowledge of every nuance of your product, you can tailor testing to your requirements.
With in-house testing, you can easily make modifications to your product design, based on test results, and get right back to testing quickly.
Testing in-house gives you complete control over the chain of custody for your product and documentation, ensuring that competitors don’t have access to your intellectual property.
Customized to Your Application
While many test equipment manufacturers offer standard models, designed to test a range of products, others offer solutions that can be customized to your needs. By purchasing your own test system, you may be able choose to customize features like operational parameters and data presentation.
Drawbacks to In-House Testing
Significant Capital Investment
While the knee jerk reaction of most product manufacturers is to reach out to purchase new test equipment, generally the costs of new systems far exceed a 1–3-year return-on-investment (ROI). In addition, it takes time to build a system yourself or have a test equipment manufacturer build one. This can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on the builder’s knowledge of test systems. In addition, there are high non-recurring costs of designing and building test equipment. Finally, you must consider your testing demand. The ROI requires high enough usage to warrant the initial capital investment
When purchasing test equipment, you need to ensure that your facility has appropriate space and resources. The new equipment may require a costly remodel of your facility or require significant resource upgrades.
It may be more cost efficient to purchase a proven test system, but an “off-the-shelf” test stand may not have the flexibility for future testing. As your product evolves, or you add additional products, you may need to purchase modification kits, upgrades, or even additional stands from the test equipment manufacturer.
In addition to the cost of purchasing test equipment (or building it, if you choose to do so), there are recurring labor costs associated with testing that must be considered:
IT’s or Engineering’s ongoing Programming and Documentation Development and Support
Learning Curve of Testing
In order to perform testing in-house, you will need internal testing expertise. In-house testing requires development of test procedures and the understanding of industry standards and certification requirements. Unless you already have testing experience, this expertise may take months or years to develop.
When it Makes Sense to Test In-House
Larger component manufacturers may have enough budget and testing requirements to utilize the stand’s volume requirements, assuming the test stands has the required flexibility to meet varying test demands over time. However, smaller manufacturers typically do not have the usage requirements during the product’s development phase to result in a reasonable payback period, and may not have a great enough demand until production testing. In the end, adding testing in-house may not be the best use of your time or internal skills.
Outsourcing Testing to a Lab
If it isn’t economical to build or purchase a test system for your product, it may be beneficial to outsource your testing to a lab that specializes in product testing.
Expertise in Testing
The greatest benefit of outsourcing your testing to a lab is that you are turning your products over to experts who not only understand the test process, but also the best testing methods.
By eliminating the cost of building or purchasing your own test system, you can minimize the capital investment required to perform critical product testing. You can also streamline your labor costs by not having dedicated personnel to perform testing.
By outsourcing your testing to an expert who knows how to perform the right tests on your product efficiently, you can improve your time-to-market, gaining an advantage over your competitors.
Greater Test Capacity
Typically, test labs have a greater capacity for testing because they have more test systems. Test labs will add additional systems based on customer demand. In addition, the test equipment owned by labs often have a wider range of parameters they can test to accommodate multiple products.
Perform More Specialized Testing
Some test labs offer more specialized testing on equipment that is cost-prohibitive for product manufacturers to purchase.
Familiarity with Regulatory Requirements
Test labs usually have in-house expertise in testing to meet regulatory requirements.
Data to Fit Various Standards
With experience testing products for a variety of customers, adhering to a variety of standards, test labs have experience formatting data to meet the requirements of whichever regulatory standard you need.
Test lab operators and technicians see a wide variety of product failures. This experience has made them experts at understanding and analyzing different product failure scenarios.
Dependent on Their Availability
An unfortunate drawback to outsourcing your testing to a test lab is that, despite a greater quantity of test systems, your schedule is dependent on their testing availability and the volume of parts they can support.
One-Size-Fits-All Test Systems
Some test labs only have one-size-fits-all test systems, designed to accommodate a specific range of products. In these situations, you may have to adapt your testing requirements to suit their test equipment.
When it Make Sense to Outsource Your Testing
If you’re not an expert in testing, it makes sense to outsource your testing to someone who is. Outsourcing your tests to a lab can often save you time and money, while improving your time-to-market.
Why You Should Consider Outsourcing to a Test System Manufacturer
A third hybrid testing model is to outsource your testing to a test system manufacturer. Genuen combines the best of both worlds. Genuen is in a unique position, as we can supply not only TaaS for your current requirements but a test system for your future requirements. By utilizing an identical test system for your in-house requirements as was used for your TaaS purposes, you will achieve in higher accuracies, reduced development costs, and better test data correlation.
Additional benefits of outsourcing your testing to a test system manufacturer include:
A Streamlined Path to Market
The expertise of test equipment manufacturers can provide an improved time-to-market. Test system manufacturers’ expertise in testing also helps to reduce costs associated with the optimal test process and development.
Minimized Capital Investment
By delaying your purchasing equipment until there is a reasonable ROI helps to minimize your capital investment.
Test equipment manufacturers often have regulatory standards compliance experience. With test equipment manufacturers, you can get data to fit various standards and requirements with expert analysis.
Reduced Labor Costs
Outsourcing your testing can streamline and reduce your overall labor costs.
As designers of the equipment, test system manufacturers have the flexibility for custom applications and can nimbly make modifications to meet new or more specialized requirements. In addition, test equipment manufacturers offer flexibility by allowing you to use your component fixtures to save cost.
As designers of the equipment, test system manufacturers will always have the latest, most up-to-date equipment and test procedures.
Secure Testing and IP
Some test equipment manufacturers offer secure testing that focuses on protecting your IP, segregating your component and data from that of other customers.
To learn more about outsourcing your testing to Genuen, and the advantages of utilizing a combined test system manufacturer and TaaS supplier, visit our TaaS page.