Testing your products can increase their reliability and help to reduce development time. There are also, of course, costs associated with testing your products. Not testing your products, however, comes at a cost as well. How do these costs compare, and which approach is the right one for your company?
For testing to be worth it, the benefits must outweigh the costs. Some companies make the mistake of avoiding testing to avoid upfront costs. The result is that while they save some money in the short run, they miss out on long-term benefits and expose their company to much greater risk.
The fact that the costs of product testing are relatively concrete and the benefits are harder to quantify increases the likelihood that firms will skip product testing. Also, while the costs are immediate, product testing benefits are realized over time as the enhanced reliability that testing provides becomes evident over a product’s lifetime. Additionally, the company as a whole gains the benefits of testing, making them harder to recognize. They come primarily in the form of avoided downstream costs and increased sales.
Taking the time to examine the costs and benefits of testing is helpful, or even necessary, in gaining an understanding and making the right decision. That’s what this article aims to do. Keep in mind that it may also be helpful for companies to explore the costs and benefits of testing in relation to their specific products.
The Costs of Product Testing
Product testing, like any business activity, comes with some upfront costs. These costs can vary depending on the types of products you’re testing, what you’re testing for, how many units you’re testing and other factors. Here are some common factors that have an influence.
Lab time is a significant factor in the cost of product testing. You’ll need to factor in setup time, which varies depending on how many units need to be tested and how complex the fixturing for your products is. Working with an experienced testing company can help you reduce the time it takes to conduct your testing.
The type of test you perform will also impact the duration of testing, as well as its costs. HALT, or highly accelerated life testing, will allow you to quickly discover a product’s weaknesses during the design phase or development stage. Using these kinds of accelerated tests is much faster than using some other traditional testing methods. While it can take days or months to get results with traditional tests, with HALT testing, you’ll have to set aside only three to five days.
Products and Product Components
You’ll also need to factor in the costs of the product you’ll use for testing, especially for tests that are destructive. HALT, for example, will involve the destruction of at least one prototype, and building prototypes comes at a significant cost during product development. You may want to have several spare units and some spare parts available to enable repairs. The more units you test, the higher your costs will be, but the better your chances of uncovering a defect will be as well.
You’ll also need to ensure that you have the proper test fixtures. Often, the lab will provide these fixtures for you, or you can provide them yourself. If you need a more complex test fixture, the costs may be higher. At Quality Testing Services, we can create customized test fixtures for your products. Just give us a sample or mechanical drawings of your products, and we’ll work with your engineers to design and build a fixture for your product’s dimensions and your testing needs.
Typically, it takes up to one week to fabricate a custom test fixture.
Ancillary Test Equipment
Another cost consideration is any equipment you’ll need to rent or purchase. If you work with a testing laboratory, they may provide some equipment. You can also consider renting test equipment, transformers, power supplies and other equipment. You may need extended cables of approximately 6 to 8 feet to connect external test equipment. You can contact your test lab to determine what they can provide and what you should bring.
Additional product testing costs may include that of shipping your prototype or product to the test facility and the cost of traveling to the test facility with your product. Others include resource costs for personnel involved in testing, including salaries.
In-House Testing Costs
You could also opt to test your equipment yourself in an in-house facility instead of working with an outside product testing lab. This approach comes with much higher upfront costs, however, compared to partnering with a third-party testing lab.
These costs include renting or purchasing the space for a lab, construction costs, equipment purchases, training and certifications. There are also significant ongoing expenses, including salaries, repairs, upgrades and recertifications. A professional third-party testing lab will take care of these costs, significantly reducing upfront costs and the amount of time you need to invest in testing.
The Costs of Not Product Testing
While product testing comes with some direct upfront costs, there are also costs and increased risk associated with not testing your product. Skipping testing can result in increased costs in several areas.
Increased Product Development Time
Without adequate testing, you’ll likely find that the design and development phases for your products are longer. Testing can quickly reveal multiple failures, allowing you to fix them earlier in the process. Finding numerous weaknesses at once enables you to reduce the number of tests you conduct and the number of design iterations you go through. Overall, this reduced design and development time means reduced costs associated with these phases along with faster time-to-market.
Increased Product Failures and Defects
Reducing the likelihood of defects and failures is a leading way that product testing saves money. It helps to reveal weaknesses in a product’s design as well as flaws resulting from the manufacturing process or the use of inferior parts. Without product testing, these defects may not be discovered until the end user finds them.
Not testing can result in less reliable products overall, and defective products can be quite expensive. They caused insured losses of more than $2 billion over the past five years, according to a report from Allianz.
If you do not conduct adequate testing, your product will likely require more repairs throughout its lifecycle. Weaknesses in design or defects that occur during manufacturing may go unnoticed, which can increase the cost of owning and operating your product. It’s typically more cost-effective to catch and correct these flaws early on in the development cycle — a goal that product testing can help you achieve.
Avoiding the need for repairs is especially critical for products in certain industries. For example, it’s much easier to correct a problem with the design of a satellite before launch than it is to correct it after the satellite is in orbit.
Increased Returns and Warranty Payments
Without product testing, your product will likely fail more often in the field. If that’s the case, you can expect your customers to either return the product or bring it in for repair or replacement if it’s under warranty. If a customer returns your product, you may need to refund their payment, depending on the return policy and when they bought the item.
A return and refund is essentially a lost sale, and there’s a chance that the customer might not purchase from your company again. On the other side of this situation, paying for repairs or replacements under warranty can get expensive if a significant portion of your customers brings damaged products in.
If you don’t test your product, you also face an increased risk of having to recall it. If there’s a flaw that extends to all of your products, you may need to issue a recall and buy-back of the defective item, which can be a highly expensive process. Widespread recalls can be extremely damaging to a company’s budget and reputation as well. In fact, the average cost of a recall is approximately $1.65 million.
Even worse, a defective product may cause injury to a customer or otherwise cause them harm. This unfortunate situation could potentially lead to a lawsuit against your company, costing you untold amounts of money and damage to your reputation.
Product testing will decrease the likelihood of defects and failures. Even if a failure does occur, however, documentation of testing and any resulting certifications can serve as evidence that you took the proper steps to ensure product safety.
Legal Issues Due to Non-Compliance
If you are legally required to test your product, you can face the consequences if you don’t comply. You might be fined, for instance, or forced to recall your product. If non-compliance is ongoing, the impacts can be even more far-reaching, even leading to the eventual shutdown of the non-compliant company.
Missed Opportunities Due to Reduced Product Quality
If your products are often defective, your company’s reputation will suffer. You’ll likely lose customers and miss opportunities to attract additional customers because of a damaged reputation for quality and reliability. This reputational damage can extend beyond the products in question and affect the company as a whole. The fact that so many consumers now check online reviews before purchasing products makes your reputation essential to your success.
Some firms may also require product testing before they purchase from another company. If you don’t conduct testing, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to partner with these firms and lose the potential resulting sales before you ever have a chance to show your worth and that of your products.
The Importance of Product Testing
The main benefit of product testing is improved reliability, which leads to reduced costs due to defective products and decreased time needed for design and development. The main reason companies choose not to conduct testing is because testing comes at a cost. While product testing does require an upfront investment, it’s typically worth avoiding the risks of releasing a product without conducting testing.
The above breakdown helps to demonstrate how the benefits of product testing may outweigh the costs. It can be difficult at times, however, to gain buy-in for testing. This challenge may be because the costs of testing are immediate and concrete. The benefits are less direct, and it takes time to see them. It may still be helpful, however, to conduct an analysis of the potential return on investment (ROI) of testing your products and look back at the benefits of past testing that you’ve performed.
Product testing also leads to other benefits beyond reduced costs. Improving the quality and reliability of your product can lead to increased sales and improved reputation. It also helps to ensure compliance with regulations and can create more opportunities for your business since some organizations require testing before they’ll purchase from a company.
Ultimately, the benefits of testing your products outweigh the costs, especially if you work with a skilled, efficient testing company like Quality Testing Services. Conducting testing such as HALT, Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HASS), environmental stress screening (ESS) and more, can help you improve your products’ quality, discover new opportunities and decrease risk.
Working With Quality Testing Services
Working with Quality Testing Services can help you minimize costs associated with testing while maximizing benefits. We’ve been a leader in the product testing industry for more than 20 years, and we’re able to efficiently conduct testing that meets your needs. As a small but highly skilled test lab, we provide a high degree of flexibility in our services and remain precisely focused on our customers’ needs. We also offer fair, competitive pricing for those who choose to work with us.
We can provide a range of product testing services like HALT, HASS, ESS, thermal/humidity, vibration and shock and more. These testing services will allow you to see how your products will perform in various simulated environmental conditions, and our accelerated testing methods will also reveal design problems and defects so that you can create a more reliable product. In addition, we can help you to qualify your products in accordance with required specifications, and we’ll provide testing that delivers ongoing monitoring for your production processes. This service ultimately leads to improved products.
Working with a professional third-party testing lab like QTS means you can perform thorough testing and obtain its benefits without having to purchase expensive lab equipment. It also provides you with unbiased information and independent third-party verification of your products’ performance. In addition, you can receive the benefits discussed above, including reduced product development time and decreased risk of products malfunctioning in the field.
Working with Quality Testing Services will ensure that you get the maximum benefit from product testing while keeping your costs low. In addition to testing services, we provide consultation services, create product-specific test plans and fabricate custom fixtures. To learn more about our services, you can contact us by filling out this form, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at (714) 903-1155. You can also request a free quote.