Improving production test throughput using a robotic test cell
04 January 2021
Implementing test into a production environment can prove to be a demanding task. Unlike testing during prototype development or for regulatory compliance, in production test, you are at the mercy of the manufacturing pulse through the factory.
Smart meter manufacturer Sagemcom knows this situation very well. Faced with increasing time-to-market pressures and the need to ramp production volumes, the existing production test facilities in their factory in Tunisia needed a revamp.
The smart meter test function consisted of a manually operated industrial PC setup with four separate test stations that performed a visual inspection of the LCD, conducted a high-potential (HIPOT) test, checked the power line communication, and completed a functional test.
Certain aspects of these test functions become automated over time, such as using a Windows-based vision-image recognition software. This involved interfacing a camera, as well as the use of automation devices to operate smart meter controls, etc. Likewise, the HIPOT test involved injecting 3.2kV to the meter to check its immunity, whilst another test rig checked the power line communication signals for correct modulation and signal integrity.
The industrial PC and automated test setup was not exceptionally reliable during operation and suffered crashes which impacted production test throughput. Also, there was a concern that the whole production test environment was susceptible to internet viruses which could severely disrupt the test facilities.
Read the full article in the January issue of DPA
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