Product testing can provide benefits to companies in nearly any industry. Some of the benefits of product testing include reduced product development time, improved product quality, reduced costs and increased consumer confidence in your products.
What exactly is product testing, and why is it important for businesses? The term refers to conducting tests to evaluate the properties or performance of a given product. Companies can use product testing to evaluate potential designs, ensure product safety, verify compliance with regulations, solve product problems and more. It’s useful to conduct product testing at various stages of development including the ideation, development and production phases.
Manufacturers may test their own products or have an independent laboratory or government agency test them. Sometimes, there is a formal standard that applies to a product and specifies the methods for conducting tests on it. Other times, engineers may develop testing methods based on the characteristics they need to test.
Types of Tests
There are many different kinds of product tests designed to test different properties of products under various conditions at different stages of product development. Some of these tests include:
- Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT): A high-stress testing technique used to discover weaknesses in the early stages of product development.
- Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HASS): Used to discover weaknesses that may result from production and manufacturing processes.
- Environmental Stress Screening (ESS): An umbrella term for testing methods that simulate the environmental conditions a product will eventually be used in.
- Mechanical endurance testing: Uses physical forces such as vibrations, strains and shock stresses to test whether a product can tolerate processing loads it may undergo during heavy use over a long period.
- Accelerated life cycle testing: Used to accelerate a product’s lifecycle to determine how it will function under lifetime operating conditions and give you insight into its life cycle failure.
- Reliability growth testing: Used during the prototyping phase to uncover failures. The results of these tests are used to improve future prototypes.
- Vibration and shock testing: Involves exposing a product to vibrations and shock to determine whether it can withstand the mechanical forces it may encounter when used in the real world.
- Accelerated weathering testing: Simulates in an accelerated manner the weather conditions a product may encounter over its lifetime to determine its durability over time.
- Military standard testing: Involves subjecting equipment to environmental stresses it may face during use in military applications to verify compliance with military standards.
- Thermal and humidity environmental testing: Involves accelerating stresses related to temperature and humidity to establish a product’s temperature and moisture limits and determine the causes of defects and failures.
Industries That Use Product Testing
Product testing may be beneficial to companies across a wide range of sectors. Below are some of the industries we work with most often at Quality Testing Services.
The Consumer Products Industry
Product testing is crucial for companies that produce consumer products of all kinds from electronics to clothing to sports equipment. Conducting testing on products before bringing them to market can help ensure they’re safe to use and that they live up to customer expectations. Performing testing during the design phase can help catch potential problems earlier, avoiding the time and money that would have been wasted producing a faulty product.
It’s especially important to detect any faults before your products are in the hands of consumers. If not, the company may end up with unsatisfied customers and a damaged brand. Recalling a product is especially damaging since you’ll need to reimburse customers in addition to dealing with damage to your reputation. According to a study by insurance firm Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, the average cost of a significant recall — those involving recall claims of at least $5.8 million — is $12 million.
Some of the most common types of testing conducted for consumer products, especially consumer electronics, are HALT and HASS.
The Medical Device Industry
Medical device manufacturers need to know with 100 percent certainty that their products are safe and reliable and will perform as expected. Their products also need to conform to regulations from entities such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as requirements put in place by the healthcare companies that will be using the products. Medical devices that may undergo testing include everything from pacemakers to powered wheelchairs.
Many different kinds of product tests can be beneficial to medical device manufacturers. If you are conducting testing to verify compliance with regulations, the requirements of those rules will determine what kind of testing you will need to complete. Medical device manufacturers may also conduct testing during the design phase to ensure materials and designs are safe and perform as expected. Some common tests used in the medical sector include HALT, HASS, mechanical endurance testing, thermal and humidity testing, reliability growth testing and more.
The Military and Defense Industry
Products that will be used in military and defense applications need to undergo tests to ensure they will meet the requirements of military standards such as MIL-STD-810 and MIL-STD-202. These tests are designed to verify that products can withstand the environmental conditions they may be exposed to over their lifetime. Any company that is aiming to win a Department of Defense contract must perform tests to ensure their product complies with the relevant military standards.
Product testing is crucial for the military and defense industry because of the strict standards to which such products must adhere. If defense products do not meet requirements or perform as expected, this can also negatively impact the health and safety of military personnel and defense workers, as well as national security.
MIL-STD-810, Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests, deals with a wide range of environmental factors a product may encounter. Testing to this standard involves replicating conditions such as high temperature, low temperature, temperature shock, solar radiation, humidity, corrosive environments, vibration, shock, mechanical vibrations and altitude.
MIL-STD-202, Electronic and Electrical Component Parts, applies to all products and system components that have printed circuit boards. Testing to this standard involves testing resistance to corrosion, humidity, moisture, thermal shock and elevated temperatures.
In defense products, temperature cycling, humidity and sometimes vibration testing are often combined. The defense industry may also use a variety of other product testing methods such as HALT, HASS, reliability growth testing and more.
The Aerospace and Aviation Industry
The aerospace and aviation industry is another in which the reliability of all components is crucial for safety. Components that fail or don’t perform as expected can have disastrous consequences and also severely damage the reputation of the company that made the part. Commercial airline companies, avionics military contractors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) involved in the aerospace and aviation sector all rely on product testing.
Products used in aerospace and aviation must comply with requirements from entities such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Those building aerospace products or system components for use in the defense sector must also comply with military standards. Manufacturers and commercial airline companies may also have their own product testing requirements to ensure the products they use will perform as expected and operate reliably.
Aerospace and aviation equipment is exposed to a range of harsh environmental conditions such as extreme vibration, temperature changes, moisture and more. Companies in the aerospace industry may use a wide variety of tests for their products and components including HALT, HASS, random vibration testing, ESS, mechanical endurance testing and more.
The Automotive Industry
The automotive sector is going through some significant changes. Automotive manufacturers are adding more digital components to their vehicles. At the same time, electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, and self-driving technology is evolving. Through all of these changes, however, product testing remains a priority.
Testing automotive components before putting a new vehicle model on the market is crucial for customer safety and satisfaction. If a component malfunctions while a vehicle is in use, people may be injured or killed. The automotive manufacturer may also suffer damage to their reputation and financial impacts through loss of customers and possibly litigation. Product testing also helps automotive manufacturers to avoid costly recalls due to design flaws. In 2016, automotive companies recalled 53.1 million vehicles in the U.S. and paid approximately $22.1 billion in claims and warranty accruals for recalls.
Vehicles are highly complex products. It’s essential that all components go through testing, and that manufacturers conduct testing at various stages of the development process.
HALT, HASS, accelerated weathering testing, random vibration testing, thermal and humidity testing, mechanical endurance testing and more are all important for the automotive sector.
The Energy Sector
Nearly every other sector relies on the energy industry to be able to function on a daily basis. Families depend on it as well to be able to heat and cool their homes, cook food and live comfortable lives. It’s crucial that the products and equipment used in the energy sector perform safely and reliably. For this reason, energy companies and those that manufacture products and system components for use by the energy industry perform comprehensive product testing.
Energy equipment is often exposed to harsh environmental conditions. Energy generation equipment, meters, pipelines and more must be able to withstand all sorts of weather. A solar cell unit may be located in the desert where it will undergo high temperatures and cool temperatures at night. Offshore oil rigs and wind farms must be able to withstand moisture, corrosive salt, vibrations and extreme temperatures.
The energy industry is also becoming increasingly digitized. All types of energy sector equipment, from smart meters to automatic shutoff devices on power lines, now include some electronic, smart components. These electronic components must be able to perform reliably even under harsh environmental conditions.
Useful methods of product testing for companies in the energy sector include HASS, HALT, accelerated weathering testing, mechanical endurance and a range of other testing techniques.
The Telecommunications Sector
As the world becomes more heavily digitized, telecommunications companies must provide the equipment and capabilities that enable this transition. Telecommunications companies create the networks and deliver the services that help make consumer electronics so valuable and enable businesses to operate in an increasingly connected world.
The telecommunications space is extremely competitive. Companies want to get their products to market faster than their competitors do, but they also need to ensure they work reliably. Releasing a product before it is tested to verify reliability could have disastrous consequences for a company. Repeated reliability issues would erode consumer confidence in the company and cause the business to lose money as customers switch to competitors that offer more reliable products. A malfunction with broad impacts could also bring the typical daily operations of a company, community or household to a halt.
For these reasons, telecommunications firms need to put their products through stringent product testing throughout the development process. The tests they use should be tailored to the unique aspects of their products and be designed to verify reliability and quality. Product tests such as HALT, HASS, accelerated weathering testing, accelerated life cycle testing, ESS and more can be beneficial to telecommunications companies.
Working With a Professional Product Testing Lab
Companies across a wide range of industries can benefit from product testing, but how can companies carry out this testing? One way is to purchase testing equipment and set up a testing laboratory at your facility, but often a more economical and efficient option is to work with an established professional testing laboratory.
Purchasing your own testing equipment is expensive. Even after buying the equipment, there are many ancillary costs associated with running your own product testing laboratory, such as the cost of operating and maintaining the equipment, providing training, purchasing liability insurance and more. By working with a third-party testing lab, you eliminate the substantial upfront cost of buying testing equipment and the ongoing costs of running a testing facility. For many companies, working with an outside lab is the more economical option.
It’s also important to evaluate the opportunity costs of the time and money you spent setting up and operating a testing laboratory. Working with a third-party laboratory allows you to focus more on your core business activities rather than on product testing.
In addition, the objectivity of a third party is sometimes necessary. Independent verification of test results may be required. It can also help to boost stakeholder confidence in your products. Advertising a product as incidentally tested will increase the credibility of your brand.
A good professional product testing lab will have up-to-date, high-quality equipment. Additionally, lab staff will also have the expertise needed to help you through the product testing process, design appropriate test methods and carry out testing procedures safely and accurately.
About Quality Testing Services
At Quality Testing Services, we provide a wide range of product testing services. We are best known for HALT and HASS, but we also provide:
- Mechanical endurance testing
- Accelerated life cycle testing
- Reliability growth testing
- Vibration and shock testing
- Accelerated weathering testing
- Thermal and humidity environmental testing
- Military standard testing
We offer custom product testing, custom test fixture fabrication and consulting services as well.
We have been conducting product testing for businesses in various sectors for more than 20 years. Based in Huntington Beach, California, we have helped many companies in Southern California, as well as customers from across the U.S. and around the world, improve their products through testing. We work with our customers to help design tests that meet their needs, conduct accurate testing and understand their results. Ultimately, our product testing services can help you to create a best-in-class product, reduce costs and ensure compliance with standards and regulations.
If you want to learn more about how our product testing services can help you improve your products and bottom line, get in touch with us today by filling out our contact form or calling us at (714) 903-1155. To request a quote, please fill out our consultation form.