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Test Asset Optimization: enabling more efficient, cost-effective benches

2018-08-23  |  7 min read 

The business maxim “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” is also a pretty good definition of the value of test when developing new products and technologies. That’s why for many companies, test and measurement equipment is often one of the biggest capital expenditures on their balance sheets.

However, this means that test departments are themselves increasingly subject to scrutiny and measurement. They’re being pressured to accelerate their processes and deliver results faster to speed up development cycles and meet market demand. At the same time, the business is squeezing test budgets to minimize capital and operating expenditure and maximize the return on existing test investments.

To meet these conflicting demands, test departments need in-depth visibility into what’s happening with the test equipment on their benches. It’s no longer sustainable for instrument utilization to be tracked and recorded manually by staff using paper or spreadsheet-based processes.

Who’s using my equipment?

Departments need to know where their critical assets are, who’s using them, and how often. Is costly equipment sitting idle under benches, or only used infrequently? It’s also critical to understand the health of instruments: do they need recalibrating, or are they operating in environments that could affect their accuracy or lead to premature failure?

Without these insights, test departments can’t measure and improve the efficiency of their own processes – and can’t make the best decisions when scoping out the resourcing and equipment needs for upcoming test projects. So, what’s needed to give departments the visibility they need and enable them to gain full control of all their test assets, to maximize their productivity and ROI? There are three fundamental processes involved:

1. Asset tracking and control

It’s essential to know what test equipment is available to teams, where it is located, and who is currently controlling its usage. This makes it easier to locate instruments when they are needed for a test, or for calibration or maintenance. The benefits of asset tracking include time savings during audit processes, an updated equipment inventory and fewer lost assets. Standard asset tracking tools can provide access to this data.

2. Assessing instrument utilization and health

As well as knowing an instrument’s location, it’s important to have specific details on how it is being utilized. Not just whether it’s switched on, but being able to access detailed real-time application logging to show precisely what it is being used for. This telemetry will show the health of the asset (such as operating voltage and temperature) which can indicate the early signs of a problem, or when maintenance is due – helping to avoid any potentially costly downtime from premature failure. It also helps to identify assets that are not in regular use, and those which may be surplus to requirements because they are no longer adding productive value to the test department. As a result, decisions can be made to trade-in or sell under-utilized equipm

3. Optimizing asset use

When the location and utilization of assets is being managed effectively, a loan pool of instruments can be created to enable scheduled sharing across groups of users. This cuts costs by avoiding unnecessary new equipment purchases, and helps to maximize usage of existing assets.

Making the most of your test assets

When applied using an integrated approach, these management processes enable organizations to do and achieve more with their existing test assets, while saving on future CapEx and OpEx investments. And to help organizations put these processes in place, we recently introduced our Test Asset Optimization Services, the industry’s first integrated solution to address the complete asset management needs for all test equipment used in R&D and manufacturing.

With our integrated suite of services, organizations’ test departments can:

  1. See all their test assets from multiple equipment vendors, track them across multiple labs, locations, and users, and manage their compliance. This reduces the time spent on physical inventory counts and improves the productivity of engineering teams by giving fast access to the right assets.
  2. Know the physical condition and true utilization of test equipment through monitoring, to increase asset usage, decrease cost of test, and identify unhealthy instruments before a bigger problem occurs.
  3. Optimize use of existing equipment across the organization with a central loan pool. This assists with smarter procurement decisions such as the need to purchase or rent new instruments, and helps customers to realize the residual market value of older equipment through trade-ins or upgrades.

Integrated Test Asset Optimization Services ensure that teams always have access to the test equipment they need, at the right time. They also enable organizations to unlock powerful, actionable insights into asset usage and ROI that they’ve never previously had access to, helping to boost test efficiency and agility. Find out more about the services here.