Panasonic engineers are using National Instruments hardware and software products for the automated testing of new computer PCBs, including those in the Toughbook rugged laptops.
Panasonic has combined NI PXI modular hardware instrumentation with NI Labview graphical development software and NI Teststand test-management software to create a streamlined automated test system that has decreased the cost of system development and maintenance.
By using this combination, Panasonic integrated multiple measurement functions into a single PXI test system that reduces physical footprint by more than 50 per cent and significantly decreases power consumption.
For Panasonic, the key to stabilising PC quality is to make the quality of the PCB consistent within each computer.
With the company's previous test system, engineers used a different type of test instrument for each type of measurement needed in testing the PCB.
This required engineers to learn how to use and develop custom test programs for each test instrument.
During this process, each advance in PCB technology needed a new and more advanced set of test instrumentation and accompanying programs, which demanded significant time and labour expenditures.
Additionally, footprint size and power consumption increased as the number of test instruments increased.
This cycle of increasing time and cost expenditures necessitated numerous system-efficiency improvements.
Faced with these demands for improved efficiency, Panasonic decided to implement NI PXI modular instruments because of the PXI platform's compact chassis, which accommodates a wide selection of modules to add functionality as needed.
The engineers integrated their hardware with the Labview and NI Teststand environments because of the environments' flexible, high-performance tools for developing automated test systems with user-friendly programming interfaces.
By combining test hardware and software into one system, Panasonic engineers can now maintain test-system stability and reliability in accordance with the highest standards.
If a problem occurs during testing, it takes engineers less time to identify the source.
Additionally, the new system integrates several specialised test instruments into a single system, which reduces its physical footprint by at least 50 per cent and significantly decreases its power consumption.
All of these factors have led to overall decreases in the total cost of ownership for the Panasonic PCB test system.