Survey reveals improved data sharing across product development workflow would improve time-to-market for electronic devices

08 April 2019

Keysight survey measuring time-to-market barriers for design & test engineers_graph

Respondents report significant challenges in data correlation & software integration: as designers continue to innovate, test engineers struggle to keep up with all the data; companies are using multiple software tools for design & test; and troubleshooting issues in both software & hardware takes time.

Leading test & measurement vendor, Keysight Technologies today released its Keysight 2019 Electronic Product Design report, which reveals that data sharing enabled by more integrated product development solutions could significantly improve time-to-market across the entire product development workflow.

The Keysight report is based on a survey, conducted by Dimensional Research, of 304 engineers, managers and executives that design, validate and test electronic devices. The survey focused on challenges identified by respondents across the entire product design workflow. The results identified data correlation and software integration as the most pressing challenges faced by design and test engineers.

Key findings include:
•    As designers continue to innovate, test engineers are struggling to keep up with all the data. 91% of survey respondents spend up to 6 months correlating simulation data to test results – significantly slowing time-to-market for electronic products.
•    Some companies are using more than 20 software tools for design and test. 61% of companies use 5 or more design tools and 91% use 3 or more test tools. Switching between tools introduces errors and slows product development.
•    Troubleshooting issues in both software and hardware takes time. 20% of respondents spend more than 8 hours each week fixing software integration gaps. This is equivalent to one day of an engineer’s time every week.
•    Over 50% of respondents surveyed say that improved data sharing would facilitate time-to-market. Respondents also reported that having better analytics and integrated software tools would have the biggest impact on reducing their time-to-market

“The survey shows that there is tremendous opportunity to reduce the time-to-market across each phase of the product development lifecycle for electronic devices,” said Todd Cutler, Vice President & General Manager of Keysight’s Design & Test Software organisation. “Nearly every company is trying to leverage and compare design simulation data to test results. The correlation issues are due, in part, to the numerous tools used in the development lifecycle. These tools are not integrated and require hours of coding each week to share data.”

Pushing the boundaries of data sharing & correlation
Companies are pushing the limits of design with longer battery life, smaller components, and higher levels of convergence and integration. As a result, test engineering requirements are increasing exponentially. For example, the 5G New Radio (NR) standard specifies 20 more conformance tests than the 4G standard. As the amount of data collected grows, companies know that they need a new way to share data between design and test teams. Over 50% of respondents surveyed say that improved data sharing would facilitate accelerated time-to-market.

Electronic design software is pushing boundaries through integration of circuit and electromagnetic simulators, 3D layout capabilities and optimisation cockpits. As designers innovate, test engineers struggle to configure the required validation tests and manage the resulting data. 91% of survey respondents spend up to 6 months correlating simulation data to test results, a critical step to ensure performance and reliability. This work significantly slows time-to-market for electronic products. The reasons why it takes months for companies to correlate design simulation results with actual physical device test results vary. One common reason is that engineers write custom scripts to pull the data out of various software tools. Writing or updating the scripts can cost as much as one day of an engineer’s time per week.

Integrated workflow to accelerate time-to-market
Given the complexities of multiple tools, an integrated way to share data is required for companies to stay ahead in the test & measurement industry. An integrated workflow includes simulated waveform files, test scripts and parameters, configuration information, target design performance parameters, and of course, test results, as well as margin and threshold analysis of pass/fail conditions. According to the survey, 93% of respondents want to accelerate time-to-market with an integrated product development solution that enables data sharing.

As designs grow in complexity and test data volume increases, an integrated product development solution must enable cloud-scale processing with a run-anywhere software architecture. An integrated and scalable product development solution that enables such data sharing offers an approach to removing time-to-market barriers for design and test engineers alike.

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