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The true costs of test equipment misconfigurations, lack of maintenance and training

An interesting piece of research from Keysight Technologies shows that nearly all companies who design and develop electronic products, experience costly and preventable delays as a result of test equipment misconfiguration, maintenance or training issues.

According to the research, a staggering 98% of R&D engineers reported workflow issues related to calibration and setup, equipment misuse, or equipment failures, while 97% said they had experienced delays that directly caused revenue loss to their business.

Those losses aren’t insignificant, either, with 53% reporting over $100,000 of waste per day while waiting to resolve critical technical support issues. In fact,12% said that losses were running at $500,000 per day!

The research also found that 59% of those questioned, experienced six or more problems requiring technical support resolution each month.

One positive from all this was that in order to mitigate these problems, 89% of R&D engineers said that their test teams were working more efficiently with faster access to test experts and knowledge-based resources.

But that really does miss the point.

As John Page, president of Keysight Global Service, observed, “Electronics companies are under constant pressure to shorten new product development lifecycles to meet time-to-market goals, and they can no longer afford to wait days or weeks to resolve technical support issues with test and measurement equipment; they need fast expert responses with committed and reliable response times.”

It appears that equipment failures requiring repair were the most common problem, cited by 63% of respondents, followed by equipment misconfigurations (56%) and equipment being out of calibration (50%) was found to be a regular problem: In a typical month, 95% of respondents said they needed to contact their test equipment vendors’ technical support team at least once – while 59% of respondents said they experienced six or more technical support issues per month.

As Page noted, the business impact is significant. 53% of survey respondents said product yield was negatively affected by test equipment failing to work properly; 47% said a product was rejected by a buyer and 45% said they had experienced increased product returns. Twenty-eight percent experienced product recalls.

The value of expert test-related support services is obvious. The research found that 90% of respondents said they would value access to technical support expertise from outside the organisation. Assistance with troubleshooting an issue was the most desired service (cited by 54%), followed by answers to technical questions and discussion (53%), understanding how a particular test or equipment feature works (49%), and calibration services (46%).

These figures are certainly concerning. Companies are seeing an impact not only to their bottom line but could end up taking a serious hit in terms of reputational damage,

Now more than ever, when manufacturing test and R&D engineers simply don’t have time to research test equipment functionality, or optimise test configurations, they need help to avoid having to adopt a firefighting approach, which can cause expensive delays and loss of revenues .

The research was carried out to emphasize the value of Keysight’s support model, but when you see these kinds of stats it goes to show that these services are worth their weight in gold for many companies.

Neil Tyler

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