How to manage test & measurement flexibly in these rapidly changing times

Author : Reinier Treur, European Inventory and Sourcing Director at Microlease

04 December 2017

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Enabled by technology, many areas of industry and society are arguably now experiencing the fastest rate of change in human history. As this piece explains, the core technologies, including electronics, that underpin most modern devices and systems are becoming ever more complex – and this accelerating innovation is putting additional strain on test functions.

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Communications standards now need to be supported that did not even exist in vehicles until recently – and as the IoT becomes a pervasive reality, this challenge will be felt everywhere. In some cases, this will mean a reconfiguration or upgrading of existing facilities; elsewhere, new functionality will require the introduction of different types of instrumentation.

The wide range of in-car and IoT technologies (including power management and control, high data-rate communication buses, wireless connectivity and sensing technologies) dramatically diversifies testing needs.

As a result, more T&M equipment will be required, and this equipment will likely need to be replaced earlier in its lifecycle. This means that resource-constrained test engineers will have to adopt new strategies to balance the often-competing goals of getting the job done – and staying within the confines of the allocated budget.

The outdated model of simply purchasing new test equipment only exacerbates the exacting financial challenges of today. Modern, complex, multi-location projects need a bespoke approach, with a high degree of flexibility. It is therefore advantageous to partner with an experienced test equipment company, able to provide both technical and logistical advice.

Such specialist partners can support test engineers in making well-informed decisions on what equipment to deploy, via what method, in what quantities and for how long – while also ensuring that project financial goals are adhered to.

Test engineers need to be able to consider what the best sourcing option is on a case-by-case basis: short-term renting, longer-term leasing, rent-to-buy, brand new instrumentation models, or even sourcing high-quality used equipment.

This way, investment is not wasted on kit that may only be of use for a limited time. When a project ends or the relevant technology changes, rented equipment can be returned, replaced or upgraded. Similarly, purchased equipment (whether originally bought new or from a supplier of used test hardware) can potentially be sold back, thereby making funds available for sourcing other equipment.

Bespoke solutions for complex projects will almost certainly include elements of several of the above options, ensuring that the test strategy exactly fits the project criteria. Leading test equipment supplier, Microlease, offers the sort of consultative approach outlined here.

Its decades of industry experience, along with a wide breadth of services and expansive portfolio of available equipment, help to ensure that test departments can operate more effectively and efficiently. Its array of cost-optimised sourcing options means that there is no risk of sourced equipment becoming outdated, or project cash being tied up unnecessarily.

In addition, it also has the capability to manage customers’ test equipment throughout the entire project lifetime. This takes away the administrative burden, with test asset tracking and auditing, plus repair, maintenance and calibration schedules all being included – all while giving the customer complete visibility.

Utilisation tracking enables test managers to make decisions on under-used equipment – replacing it with more useful items, or selling it to free up financial reserves.

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