HALT vs. ALT: Which Testing Technique Should You Use?

Product testing is an essential part of manufacturing. Not only is it important to figure out if your product will be fully functional, but you may find yourself needing to determine when and how the product will fail or malfunction.

When it comes to stressing your product to determine its limits, you’ll probably find yourself turning to either highly accelerated life testing (HALT) or accelerated life testing (ALT). The question comes down to which of the two methods is better for your particular product.

With the two acronyms sharing three letters, it’s no wonder there’s some confusion surrounding the differences between HALT and ALT procedures. The two methods accomplish different objectives, and they can both be highly beneficial when you work with the right testing service. Functioning either separately or in tandem, HALT and ALT product testing can help you determine the longevity and the ultimate success of your product down the line.

What Is HALT Testing?

Highly accelerated life testing is a process available for manufacturers to wear their product down through a series of externally imposed conditions. HALT is a qualitative test rather than a quantitative one because, rather than measuring the length of time between failures, HALT focuses on the type and intensity of different stimuli.

HALT is all about discovering the causes of failures, a process which involves the stressing of the product beyond its specification limits. In addition to figuring out the underlying causes of failures, HALT also has a component of identifying and analyzing potential corrective solutions. Here are some other elements within the HALT methodology that help accomplish these objectives:

  • Establishing trial environments for the product within a controlled test chamber that expert technicians carefully monitor
  • Perpetually increasing stress factors such as temperature fluctuations to induce a sequence of failures
  • Testing limitations involving multiple stresses at once, including thermal variations, shocks, vibrations and other impacts
  • Revealing the causes of sudden malfunctions and measuring the product’s thresholds for cold and heat tolerance
  • Noting the product’s destruct limits, indicated by the failures after which the product can no longer be recovered

HALT testing uses ever-intensifying stresses of various kinds to pinpoint weaknesses in product designs and solidify the margins of their functionality. When performed by a knowledgeable and experienced test lab , HALT can offer your company enormous benefits.

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What Are the Benefits of the HALT Testing Technique?

While the HALT process can’t accurately determine the reliability of a product or how long it will last, it can help manufacturers and engineers see what kind of tweaks will improve the item’s durability. Here are a few key benefits to keep in mind when weighing different testing options:

  • HALT is one of the fastest product testing methods. While other tests may require several weeks to complete, HALT can often give you results within the first few hours or days.
  • HALT identifies components for further testing. HALT identifies specific problematic product elements, and it does so at record speed. These two criteria make HALT testing an excellent precursor to additional tests you may want to run. In other words, if you have a long series of tests ahead of you, HALT can help make the overall product evaluation process much more efficient.
  • HALT enhances profits by finding defects in early stages. This advantage not only enhances the cost-effectiveness of the manufacturing process, but it makes HALT highly useful for new product designs and emerging innovations. You will be less likely to face product recalls and warranty claims thanks to HALT’s proactive testing process.

HALT can be an excellent first step in your overall product testing timeline. After determining weak points in product design through efficient HALT methods, engineers can turn to additional testing strategies to figure out the extent of these components’ overall durability. One of the most effective techniques for doing so includes accelerated lifecycle testing, also known as ALT.

HALT is a stress testing methodology that is used to test product reliability. Many companies offer metal heat treating services to automobiles, pump shafts, and other similar manufacturers in order to increase the toughness, strength, and internal stress of the metals. And HALT testing can determine the amount of stress and toughness a metal has achieved after all the processes. The majority of heat treatments are performed to improve the mechanical properties of metals, but they are evaluated using the highly accelerated life test (HALT) method.

It’s important to note HALT is not a faster version of ALT. Instead, the two processes are geared toward radically different ends, although they can also work together to test your product’s limitations thoroughly.

What Is ALT Testing?

Accelerated life testing is a form of lifecycle test that involves speeding up the aging process of a product to measure its effectiveness and functionality over time. As a quantitative test, it seeks to predict how much time a product can last before failing the first time, and then measures the time between subsequent failures.

ALT testing stands out as the method best suited for evaluating the reliability of a product under regular operating conditions. It also identifies the failure mechanisms that are likely to occur eventually as the product gets used and handled. Here is some of what the process includes:

  • Increasing the occurrence of a typical product function to identify how many incidents are possible before failure
  • Comparing three different stress levels, including low, medium and high, between a determined number of product samples
  • Evaluating the relationship between stressed or accelerated variables and product failure time, using various stress-test models
  • Discovering the failure times of even the most reliable design components
  • Determining the settings and factors that will maximize the product’s lifetime

These processes not only set ALT apart from other testing methods, but they also offer unique benefits relating to time-effectiveness and operational oversight.

What Are the Benefits of the ALT Testing Technique?

ALT testing may not wear the “highly accelerated” label, but that doesn’t mean the process doesn’t have notable advantages relating to testing speed. ALT can be effective on its own or in tandem with HALT testing methods for a more substantial overview. Accelerating the lifecycle of a product brings the following benefits to the table:

  • ALT speeds up aging for timely test results. As opposed to natural lifecycle testing, ALT allows you to simulate accelerated time for quicker analysis. In just a few weeks, increased stress levels enable testers to see the full scope of a product’s lifespan, even in products designed for years of use. This added efficiency helps you remain competitive in your product release timing, while also having quality testing results to back up your product’s reliability.
  • ALT testing uses little equipment. Products can usually be evaluated through benchtop testing, often right at the manufacturer’s facilities. Since the objective of ALT testing is to determine the product’s lifecycle under ordinary operating conditions, we don’t need to impose the more intensive thermal or shock stresses required for effective HALT procedures, for example.
  • ALT results show you what you can expect from your current design. Knowing the parameters of failure modes and predictions for the lifecycle of your product will help you prepare for future costs, needs and design opportunities. It helps you set guarantees and warranties in reliable ways, reduces the risk of loss and improves your confidence for your brand’s impending endeavors.

Manufacturers across the board can benefit from lifecycle testing in whatever form it comes, but ALT especially offers these advantages at highly impressive rates. Some types of products, particularly mechanically engineered ones, are common subjects of ALT or HALT. Let’s take a look at the industries that turn to these testing methods most frequently.

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Which Industries Use HALT and ALT Methods?

Some manufacturers’ products carry special responsibilities, such as the very lives of the consumers who use them. These products, for which failure must be prevented at all costs, need to undergo extensive, reliable testing to be safe for users and on par with industry regulations.

Additionally, the right testing methods help these products remain beneficial and ultimately profitable for those who create them. Here are how HALT and ALT cater specifically to these types of industries.

The Most Common Uses of HALT

One of the critical purposes of HALT is to discover flaws which would be potentially dangerous to the user if unchecked. The following fields, in particular, are some of the top HALT testing industries because of the way HALT can help prevent product failures, addressing weak design elements and potential safety hazards.

  • The aviation and aerospace industries: Vital components relating to engines, landing gear, oil pumps and electronic sensors and displays are all elements of aircraft and aerospace mechanics that HALT methods can thoroughly observe. Before their product moves into the production phase, engineers in these fields can test the individual parts of their design to make sure they meet quality expectations and industry standards.
  • The transportation and automotive industries: One of the primary ways the HALT testing technique can help automobile companies and others relating to transportation is in the reduction of recalls. With an early discovery of weak points in your product, you can protect your reputation, provide a safer user experience and create a reliable safeguard around your bottom line.
  • The energy industry: Safety and adherence to industry regulations are some of the primary responsibilities of the power industry. To establish reliable parameters for the transmission and storage of natural gas, oil and other fuel sources, many energy companies find themselves turning to HALT processes to work out possible errors. With the constant progress and development of new power-related technologies, dependable testing methods are more important than ever.
  • The medical industry: Because HALT is a fast method of trying out design limits, manufacturers in the medical field can reap massive benefits by employing it. Not only is HALT a way to prevent faulty equipment from endangering patients, but its quick results can help researchers and product designers stay on top of the leading lifesaving technologies in a rapidly evolving environment.
  • The military or defense industry: Lastly, military applications are a popular client for HALT services because of the need for reliable weaponry and the adherence to critical standards. In cases relating to defense systems, failure is not an option, and neither is the long wait other testing methods might require. HALT can provide the perfect balance of quality processes and speedy results for military manufacturers, keeping them at the top of the line.

Interestingly, many of the same manufacturers that can benefit from HALT testing are also prone to use ALT testing to measure the reliability of their product designs. While HALT is a much quicker process than ALT, lifecycle testing can help provide longevity insights in addition to the understanding of product weaknesses.

The Most Common Uses of ALT

ALT and other forms of lifecycle testing perhaps offer a broader range of uses than more nuanced tests, as nearly every product on the market has a determinable lifetime. There are some fields of interest, however, including the ones listed as HALT industries, that can benefit substantially when undergoing ALT testing techniques.

The most common ALT testing industries include the following broad categories.

  • Industries that incorporate electronic equipment: ALT is a typical approach to determining the lifespan of emerging tech with electrical components. From LCD screens to switches to batteries, these components are integral to the operation of various devices, so determining the time to failure of these electronic parts is an essential part of establishing design and warranty parameters, among other results.
  • Industries that use assembled mechanics: Accelerating the results of different stress levels on various manufacturing materials can help determine the functionality of constructive mechanical components. ALT techniques can scrutinize the durability of metals and composites across hydraulics compositions, automobile assemblies, spare parts and more, helping perfect their use.
  • Industries that provide consumer products: As with the HALT industries we have addressed, ALT can help identify how to improve potentially faulty designs before the products get produced and launched onto the market. Identifying not only the weaknesses of an item, but also taking steps to increase its longevity, will result in higher customer satisfaction, loyalty and reviews, building your brand in beneficial ways for years to come.

When it comes to HALT vs. ALT, the effectiveness of your evaluation will largely depend on the testing service you choose. You will want to find a tester that is experienced, customer-focused, flexible and willing to work with your specific testing needs.

If you’re looking for a reliable testing solution, look no further than Quality Testing Services.

Contact Quality Testing Services to Discover Which Testing Method Is Better for Your Product

For an expert analysis that will set you apart in your industry, Quality Testing Services can help. We believe the satisfaction of your customers and the reputation of your company are worth protecting. With the right testing methods and results, we can help minimize your risk of loss.

Our attentive technicians will work with you to engineer the right solution to meet your HALT and ALT needs. We know how important it is to not only identify potential failures, but also to establish plans for corrective actions relating to the lifecycle of your product.

Contact us today to hear more about our HALT and ALT services based in Southern California, or to request a quote. Let’s work together to set your product on the road to dependable success.

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Related Resources:
HALT/HASS Testing Services from Quality Testing Services
Accelerated Life Cycle Testing Services
How the HALT/HASS Testing Procedure Works

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