The Economics of Test Automation - Part 2

Last week, we began analyzing the economics of test automation by discussing its cost, from development to deployment to operation. But looking solely at cost can make the decision to adopt test automation both intimidating and lopsided, so we should also consider the benefits that we can reap from automation.

This week, we look at 5 benefits that test automation can bring to your organization: higher workforce productivity, yield improvement, better test throughput, high scalability, and quality improvement.

Higher Workforce Productivity

By virtue of automation alone, manual test tasks will certainly be reduced. Tasks that previously required human operator execution can be converted into software code that remotely control test equipment and run the tests. For example, prior to employing test automation, a human operator may be required to connect the device under test (DUT) to the test equipment, key in the appropriate equipment settings for the first test to run, and change the settings for every subsequent test. After each test, the operator will need to decide if the results are good or bad, before recording them. Through test automation, the operator role can be stripped down to connecting the DUT to the test equipment -- the other test processes are completely taken care of by the automation. This leads to higher workforce productivity, as the operator can now be freed to perform other tasks while the test automation takes care of the remaining test processes.

Yield Improvement

In manual tests, the more human intervention required, the higher the risk of introducing human error. Human errors can come in a variety of forms, such as setting the wrong test parameter values, wrongly interpreting the test results, or even damaging the DUT with wrong equipment settings that overstress the DUT. All these mistakes can cause the production yield to drop unnecessarily. Production failures associated with human errors can be reduced or even eliminated by automating the test processes. And the lower the production failures, the higher the yield.

Better Test Throughput

The speed and precision that test automation offers usually surpasses human capabilities. While the test software can churn out hundreds of test scenarios and processes in a matter of seconds, our mere human fingers can only play catch-up, probably several hours later. A combination of this speed and lower production failure means that test automation results in better test throughput. This is a valuable advantage and allows your business to cater to a higher volume of orders.

High Scalability

As your business grows, you may eventually need to increase the number of test stations. With test automation, you can easily and efficiently scale up your production test. This is because test software and test equipment can be easily duplicated or expanded to meet your needs. It also means that you do not need to spend as much time or money to hire and train new staff to handle the expansion.

Quality Improvement

Another problem that can be associated with manual testing is product quality. A bad product may be accidentally shipped out if a failure is mistakenly recorded as a pass or if certain tests were unknowingly skipped. Quality issues faced by your customers are very costly, as they can involve recovery costs and can place the reputation of your organization at risk. Automated tests can not only help catch failures more effectively but also further improve your product quality by stringently testing more parameters within a shorter period of time.

These are just some of the many benefits of test automation, and the importance of each will vary depending on individual scenarios. Regardless of your situation, though, understanding the costs and benefits of test automation is a critical step for any organization considering investing in test automation.

Are you looking for test equipment to fit into your test automation setup? MAT sells and leases Lab-Certified Pre-Owned Test Equipment, and can help you find the appropriate test equipment for your test automation plan. By employing the right test automation strategy for your organization, you can achieve some or all these benefits.