Production Line Tool (PLT)
for Dependable Device Testing
What is the PLT?
- Test instrument configured for specific IoT device
- Loads firmware images
- Tests device with bundle of automated tests
- Logs the results in the cloud for near-real-time private global access
What Are the Benefits?
- Most affordable way to automate testing
- Promotes testing throughout development and production
- Builds confidence of the engineering team in the product design
- Ensures consistency of testing during production
- Speeds up troubleshooting and shortens time to market
The Story Behind the PLT
Software development has grown immensely as an industry and it has gotten easier to write code. The side-effect is that it is also easier to generate bugs. An unkempt kitchen is going to attract cockroaches. We actively work to keep code clean and tidy by building the test apparatus from the start.
With our DEVflow process, we think ahead to what is going to happen in the factory when the device is in production. Instead of developing everything in a special developer environment that may be hard to transfer to a distant factory, we build a Production Line Tool (PLT) that is used both to load firmware into the boards and test that it’s working on the target hardware. The PLT functions like a high-pressure power washer vis-a-vis the handheld sponge of manual functional testing.
We develop the PLT with the mindset that tests must be repeated over and over to be useful. It is tedious to repeat tests and it is crucial to maintain consistent conditions, so it is the perfect activity to automate. A good PLT is literally worth its weight in gold. As an example, we recently completed a PLT for a client that - with the press of a single button - runs 60 tests in 90 seconds that would take 50 minutes to execute by hand.
At $10/hr of labor and 10K pcs per week run rate, this brilliant box saves more than $8,000 each week in test time alone and experience tells us that this is only a modest portion of the benefits it brings to a project. To the engineers, traceability of tests on every single unit is the real “gold mine” quality of the PLT although it is more difficult to measure this benefit.