Companies want to ensure that their products meet their quality standards. To get this assurance, they must perform tests of their products’ safety, durability and functionality. These tests involve subjecting the product to a range of stresses, impacts and temperatures. If the product is electronic, it must also be capable of fulfilling specified performance capabilities.
Product testing can also help improve a company’s reputation among customers and increase their confidence in its products. Customers will be more likely to trust a product that the company has thoroughly tested. Testing also helps ensure the quality of your products, improving customer satisfaction.
Accurate testing is crucial. If a product is tested inconclusively or inaccurately, the advertised performance stats of the product may be misleading. In worst-case scenarios, a poorly tested product could cause user injuries and fatalities. In this way, product testing helps companies avoid costly recalls and liability lawsuits.
Conducting testing early in the product development process can help you reduce the costs of correcting any flaws. It can also help decrease the amount of time it takes to develop a product, resulting in faster time-to-market. Ultimately, testing assists with both reducing costs and boosting revenue by improving product quality.
Through the product testing process, manufacturers can release products to their customers knowing that they have met the required performance standards for the size, weight and functionality in question.
The Steps for Product Testing
While exact testing processes will vary based on the type of equipment undergoing testing, here’s a general overview of the most common product testing steps:
I. Requirement Development
1. First, you must determine which product or products you will test and which features of the products you will evaluate.
2. You will also choose the standards to which you will compare your test results. These standards may come from a regulatory requirement, contract or industry standard. If there’s no existing standard, you need to establish one. The test facility may be able to assist you in determining test standards. The standards you choose will help guide the development of your test plan.
II. Test Planning
To ensure successful test completion, you must come up with a testing plan in collaboration with your testing vendor. Creating a test plan will include the following steps:
1. Record details of the test in an acceptance test plan. This ensures you have all the facts documented about the test at hand.
2. Write the test plan and have all necessary company representatives approve it.
3. The vendor must read and understand the plan to ensure both parties are on the same page.
4. The vendor must take note of any special responsibilities included in the plan. They need to understand what these responsibilities entail to ensure proper execution of the test.
5. Upon review by both you and the vendor, you can make modifications to the plan as needed, providing you and the vendor agree on the changes in question. For example, if you determine the sample size must be larger than initially planned, you should adjust the plan accordingly.
6. Specify the range of tests scheduled for a given product. Each one of these tests must be conducted in the proper order on the specified number of test units.
7. The plan must account for the following testing concerns:
- Risk-assessment and analysis of how the product will impact end users. This helps you determine whether or not a product is ready for commercial release.
- The steps required for the test, including details of the processes and standards required.
- The support equipment required and which party will supply each piece of equipment. If there is no clear understanding between the manufacturer and testing vendor as to which party is responsible for the required tools in a given test, the process may get delayed due to insufficient testing equipment. An insufficient toolset could also lead to inaccurate test results.
- The sample size to be tested. If you assess too few units, you will not be able to draw an accurate conclusion about the durability and performance of the product. If too many units undergo the same test, it could result in costly and time-consuming over-testing. Note whether you can test items in parallel or whether you must test them serially.
- The training requirements for testing personnel. All relevant personnel should be able to demonstrate their ability to carry out an upcoming test according to plan before such plans commence.
- The financial aspects of the testing process and how this can impact the budget of the companies behind each given test.
- The testing timetable, which will help facilitate the recording of test results. If an unexpected result occurs during a given test, the tester should record the time of occurrence.
- The types of tests scheduled to be employed. Some products may only require one or two simple tests while others might necessitate a long list of complex tests.
- The reporting requirements for the tests at hand. If the results of the test prompt a halt in production, the testing company must report the news to the manufacturer immediately. The report must include expected results, actual results and disparities between the two.
- If a product fails a test, whether the units will be reworked on site, faulty parts replaced or units sent back for rework, evaluation and replacement.
III. System Testing
Sometimes, you may want to test multiple products or components of a single product as an entire system. If the product being tested is a part of a system, the following steps will apply to ensure accurate results:
1. If the test plan applies to a system, an additional set of requirements may apply, which you should review.
2. If the installation of a product or system in a testing environment involves pre-requisites, describe them in the installation procedures section of the test plan. For example, if product A only functions in combination with products B and C, the latter two will need to be included in the test of product A.
3. The tests should replicate the conditions that a product would face in an everyday usage environment.
4. The tests used should also include challenges that the product wouldn’t face under normal circumstances. If a product can handle temperature levels and impact stresses that far surpass the likely thresholds of any real-life situation, the product will exceed endurance testing standards for the categories in question.
5. The documentation of a given test should include the following information about the results:
- A description of how the system interacts with other systems, be it software or applications.
- Specifications regarding whether system installation is part of the test itself or a pre-requisite for said test. Testing how a product will integrate and how the product will function in general require different testing procedures.
The test should verify a natural condition for the system. If the product performs best just below the mid-line of the acceptable temperature range, the technician performing the test must record this result.
IV. Acceptance Test Execution
Here’s a look at the steps you will take once the plans are in place, and the test is ready to begin:
1. The technician must carry out the tests in accordance with the test plan. If the plan entails multiple tests, each assessment must be carried out in the order of the plan sequence.
2. Report the results of each test. If an examination reveals a flaw in the product, the technician must document this in the report. Depending on the product, a deviation of any kind could be grounds for a redesign or recall.
3. Once the tests have finished, the tech signs an agreement that the testing steps have been fulfilled according to the plan.
4. If the product fails one of the tests, you will need to create a secondary plan, such as a product overhaul or a standards revision. Though this generally requires further investment, it may also help companies save money they would otherwise spend to develop an inherently faulty product.
Types of Product Tests
Manufacturers can use various tests to determine how the product at hand will perform and maintain its integrity under various real-life challenges. Different tests will apply depending on the nature of the item in question.
- Functional Testing: Functional tests examine the performance of products in simulated everyday environments. The purpose of functional tests is to see whether the product performs as expected. If the performance deviates from the expectation, a determination must then be made regarding the significance of this discrepancy. Functional testing applies to all products being tested whether consumer product or industrial product.
- Load Testing: Load testing determines the user capacity of a product or service. With a car or truck, for example, a load test would determine the maximum amount of weight the vehicle could carry. With software, a load test would determine how much system resources could possibly be used at once for the program to run without locking up a computer.
- Impact Testing: Impact testing is used to examine the amount of force a product can withstand and remain intact. With a line of bullet-proof vests, for example, an impact test could help determine the maximum caliber and velocity of a bullet the vest could safely withstand.
- Drop Testing: Drop testing is used to determine the maximum height from which a product could be dropped and remain intact. Drop tests are often performed on large shipping boxes to determine the proper amount of packing strength needed to safely transport items across long distances. These tests can also help electronics manufacturers determine the strength of their products. However, drop testing is usually a standalone test that can rarely be performed under exacting text conditions.
- Regression Testing: Regression tests are employed to see how a product or system will work in light of modifications. Will a slight modification cause the product to malfunction, or is there a certain range of benign or possibly beneficial modifications that could be made by the individual user?
- Access Control Testing: For security products such as encryption software and home security systems, access control tests are used to determine the strength of the product in use. For example, is the product in question resistant to advanced hacking measures or does it require further improvements to keep its users safe?
- Usability Testing: The purpose of usability testing is to determine whether the product in question is user-friendly. Though the results are admittedly subjective, usability tests are conducted in realistic environments to examine the ease with which potential customers would be able to use the product and understand its functions.
Once a sufficient sample size of a given product has passed a full series of testing steps, the product is ready for release to the end users.
Once you decide to hire an outside product testing company, it is crucial to examine the scope and reputation of each prospective service that you consider as a possible testing source. The most important factors to consider as you go about the search include the following:
- Reputation: A reliable testing service will be in good standing among businesses in your sector. If the company has existed for any reasonable length of time, you should be able to find reviews online from current and prior customers attesting to the organization’s merit.
- Scope: A prospective service will need to cover the product range of your company. As you research potential product testing services, ensure their lists of testing credits or categories include products you currently sell, would sell or have sold.
- Equipment: Before you arrange a testing agreement with a particular service, verify which party will be responsible for the tools required for the process.
- Rates: Make sure you fully understand the testing prices before you proceed with the service. Ask if a quoted rate is the total rate for a given test or whether any other fees apply. An honest company will be upfront about their pricing structure.
Overall, you want the testing service you ultimately choose to be trustworthy, versed in your product area, sufficiently equipped and reasonably priced.
About Quality Testing Services
For more than 20 years, Quality Testing Services has been a leader in the product testing space. As a small but highly advanced testing lab, we offer our customers individual attention, personalized guidance and flexibility. We’ll work with you to determine the right kinds of tests for your needs as well as the advanced equipment needed to fully and accurately test your products. We can also customize tests through the use of specialized tooling or designing a unique test apparatus.
Our testing services can help you to determine how your product performs in various simulated conditions as well as identify and correct design issues. Working with us provides you with third-party verification of product performance and enables you to test products without purchasing expensive testing equipment. It can also help you decrease product development time and reduce costs associated with faulty products.
We provide a wide variety of tests including Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) testing, Highly Accelerated Stress Screen (HASS) testing, vibration and shock testing, temperature and humidity testing, life testing and more. We are most well-known for our HALT and HASS testing. We serve companies across a variety of industries, including the consumer products, medical, aerospace, automotive, energy, defense and government sectors. To learn more about our testing services, submit the form on our contact page or call us at (714) 903-1155 to request a quote.