All companies want to ensure their products work correctly and meet their standards for quality. This applies to new products that are under development and existing products that must undergo quality testing. Product testing is a critical part of the product development process and is sometimes required legally or to work with another company. So, how exactly does product testing work?
What Is Product Testing?
Product testing is the conduction of any of various tests to measure the performance or properties of a product. It can, for instance, be used to verify that a product works correctly and is safe for use by consumers.
Manufacturers may test their own products, or an independent laboratory or government agency may test them, depending on the circumstances.
Often, a formal standard exists for conducting a certain kind of test. If not, engineers may develop methods to meet the testing needs they’re presented with.
A firm may conduct product testing at any stage of product development, including the idea, development and production phases. It is advisable that companies perform at least one round of testing, if not several, before releasing a new product to market.
There is also another kind of product testing, which involves asking consumers to use a product and gathering feedback from it. In this article, however, we’ll focus on the first type of product testing — the kind that measures the performance or properties of a product.
Types of Product Tests
There are many different types of tests for evaluating various aspects of products:
- HALT/HASS: A Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) aims to discover weaknesses in the early phases of a product’s life cycle and is deployed during the design phase or development stage. Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HASS) aims to uncover faults that are caused during production and manufacturing processes. Firms conduct HASS after they’ve already conducted HALT and entered into the production phases.
- Vibration and Shock: Vibration tests involve applying vibrations at various frequencies to a product, while shock tests involve subjecting a product to sudden, short and high levels of force. These tests assess the product’s reaction to these stimuli. There are a variety of types of vibrations tests, including sine sweeps, random vibration tests and resonance search and dwell tests.
- ESS Testing: Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) is a term that refers to any of various tests that simulate the environmental conditions a product will be used in, including extreme temperatures, corrosive environments and persistent vibrations. ESS tests include thermal testing and electrodynamic vibration testing.
- Accelerated Weathering: Accelerated weathering tests simulate the weather conditions that products used outdoors will be exposed to, such as sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures. Products that typically undergo accelerated weathering testing include automotive parts, construction materials, farming equipment and furniture.
- Thermal and Humidity Testing: This term refers to various environmental tests of a product’s resistance to humidity and temperature changes. These tests include humidity cycling, high-temperature testing and moisture-resistance testing. They help establish the temperature and moisture limits and uncover the causes of defects.
- Accelerated Life Cycle Testing: Accelerated life cycle testing stresses a product to uncover faults and failures. Life cycle testing enables the manufacturer to predict the product’s service life and maintenance requirements and offer appropriate guarantees and warranties.
- Mechanical Endurance Testing: These kinds of tests assess a product’s reaction to repeated stress. They measure the damage this stress will cause over a product’s normal life using forces such as vibrations, shocks and strains. The assessments establish the limits of an item’s use and can help the manufacturer improve its durability.
There are also other types of product testing methods, and firms may use custom-designed tests to meet the testing needs of their specific products.
Uses and Benefits of Product Testing
Why do companies test their products? There are as many reasons to perform product testing as there are kinds of product tests. The purpose of a test depends on the type of product being evaluated, the current stage of the development process and other factors.
Uses for Product Testing
Some of the uses of product testing include:
1. Screening Concepts and Designs
Early in the development process, a company may use product testing to test the feasibility of various ideas and designs. Testing can help you to eliminate unsuccessful ideas and choose the best-performing ones.
2. Checking Compliance With Requirements
Sometimes, testing is required to provide verification that an item meets the requirements of a standard, contract or regulation. In the case of regulation, testing is mandatory. It may also be required to win a contract with another firm or to achieve compliance with an industry standard.
3. Establishing Baseline Data for Other Functions
Product testing can provide a baseline for other functions of an organization. The results of these tests may serve as standards for quality assurance checks or engineering guidelines.
4. Validating Suitability for the Intended Use
Before beginning mass production of a product and putting it on the market, a company may conduct extensive testing to ensure it will perform as expected and serve its intended purpose. These assessments can help a company to catch any flaws before beginning large-scale production or selling it to customers, saving the business money and improving reputation with customers.
5. Ensuring Safety
Product testing is also crucial for ensuring a product is safe for use. Companies are legally required to test many products to ensure compliance with safety requirements, and customers may not purchase some products if they haven’t been tested for safety. In addition to protecting customers, product safety testing protects the manufacturer by reducing liability concerns.
6. Enabling Technical Communication
Companies need the results of product testing to communicate the technical specifications of their product and provide guidance for how to use it. They can use this information in marketing materials, user manuals, training programs, specifications, proposals and more.
7. Forecasting Life Expectancy
Product testing enables companies to accurately predict the life expectancy of their products. This allows them to offer appropriate warranties and other guarantees as well as to market their products appropriately.
8. Providing Evidence for Legal Proceedings
The results of product tests can be used as evidence in various types of legal proceedings, including those related to patents, product liability and advertising claims.
9. Solving Product Problems
If a product is not performing as expected at any stage of the product development process, the company may perform tests to help determine the cause of the problem. The firm can conduct various types of tests on different parts of the product, allowing evaluators to pinpoint the source of the issues and potentially identify ways to solve them.
10. Improving Products and Production Processes
Even if a product is not experiencing problems, testing can help to uncover potential design or manufacturing process improvements that would enhance the product’s performance or reduce production costs. This can help the company to keep up with competition, stand out to customers and improve their bottom line.
Benefits of Product Testing
Companies that test their products, or have a laboratory test them on their behalf, derive substantial benefits from doing so. Some of these benefits, which highlight the importance of product testing, include:
1. Decreased Product Development Time
Testing a product throughout the development cycle can help to reduce time to market by helping to catch faults early. This helps the company avoid having to go back to a previous step to uncover a flaw in the design or production process. The results of product tests can also inform work on the product throughout the later stages of development.
2. Improved Customer Confidence
Customers will have more confidence in a product that has been tested, especially if a third party completed the testing. Testing provides evidence to customers that a product will perform its intended function and do so well. It also provides assurance of a product’s capabilities to investors, third-party partners, standards organizations and other groups.
3. Enhanced Quality and Reliability
Testing a product can help manufacturers to improve its quality and reliability. Testing multiple ideas and designs helps a company to choose the best-performing one, and other types of tests help to uncover and fix flaws to improve reliability. Ultimately, this leads to a better product and more satisfied customers.
4. Reduced Costs
Testing helps firms to fine-tune their designs and production processes to reduce production costs. Catching flaws early in the product development cycle reduces the cost of fixing those defects. Testing a product to ensure quality before sending it to market can help a company avoid excessive warranty payments and potentially legal costs. It may also help to reduce the need for after-sales service.
5. Increased Profitability
Ultimately, product testing can help to improve a firm’s profitability by reducing costs and increasing sales. Product testing may improve sales because including testing results in marketing materials can generate more interest in a product. Enhancing quality and reliability leads to a better product, which may ultimately increase sales.
Stages of Product Testing
How does producing testing work, and what does the process look like? It varies according to which product and which aspects of its performance are being tested, but most processes progress through product testing phases in a similar way. Some of the basic product testing stages include:
1. Requirement Development
First, you must determine what products you are testing and which aspects of the product you’d like to evaluate. The features you’ll need to look at depend on your goals in testing the product.
You also need to choose the standards to which you will compare the results of your test, which will help you to determine whether the product performs its intended function and whether it does so satisfactorily. Sometimes, these requirements will be a part of a regulatory requirement, industry standard or contract. Other times, the manufacturer or test facility will need to establish them themselves. The information you gathered in this step will inform the next step in the process.
2. Test Plan Development
Next, you will need to create a test plan, a document that describes the strategy you will use for testing. This plan will include the scope of the tests, the techniques you will use, the equipment and other resources you need and the schedule of the testing.
It’s best to be as detailed as possible when creating your test plan. You need precise processes and standards to follow to ensure your test is reliable. If you’re conducting a test to verify conformance to a standard, regulatory requirement or contractual requirement, that document may help you in developing your test plan.
Then, you will set up the testing environment according to the product testing guidelines in your plan. Once the testing environment is prepared and the necessary equipment is in place, you will start to run the tests according to your pre-determined strategy.
During the actual testing, it is crucial to follow the test plan exactly. You will also need to monitor the test as needed and document results appropriately so that you can ensure the test is completed accurately and results are reported accurately.
4. Evaluation of Results
After the test, you will assess the test results and report them. You may analyze any failures or performance issues that occurred in the product to determine their cause as well as how to address those causes to improve product performance or prevent product failures in future design iterations. If there were problems with the test itself, you will need to evaluate those issues, adjust your test plan and rerun the evaluation.
Often, firms will test products, especially larger and more complex ones, at multiple levels. They may, for instance, test individual components, then the part those components combine to create and then all of the parts together to form the final product. If a product is likely to be used in conjunction with other products, they may even test multiple items together.
Companies may test products using a top-down strategy starting with the final product or system, or they may use a bottom-up process that starts with individual components. A top-down approach may be beneficial because if the final product works well, there is no need to conduct individual component tests. A bottoms-up approach may be useful for pinpointing the precise sources of failures or performance issues.
The Benefits of Working With QTS
Product testing is useful for companies across a wide variety of sectors and can help you accomplish a range of goals from improving a product to discovering and correcting design issues with new products to verifying compliance.
Quality Testing Services has been a leader in product testing for more than 20 years. We offer a wide variety of testing services, including ESS testing, accelerated weathering testing, vibration and shock testing and more. We are best known for our expertise in HALT and HASS. We can also develop custom testing plans and custom test fixtures that enable the testing of any type of product and allow us to meet your unique needs and goals.
At Quality Testing Services, we strive to help our customers create the best products possible. Our testing services can help you improve your product design and performance. Our company is small enough to give individual attention and care to every project and remain flexible with our offerings, yet we have the experience to deliver reliable, high-quality results and optimize your testing plans. We offer all of this at a competitive price.
If you’re looking for a product testing company that will work with you and give your tests the attention they deserve, contact us by filling out this form or calling us (714) 903-1155. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help you test and improve your products.