CAMI Research shares the top five questions to ask about your new cable and harness tester.
When choosing a cable and harness tester, there are five key factors to address with potential manufacturers:
1. Is it PC-based?
A PC-based system is operated by an autonomous (rather than embedded) computer. Being independent of embedded computer architecture, the hardware is more robust, easier to upgrade, and has a longer life cycle. Companies that require a flexible, versatile test system with dynamic graphic-rich GUI, archival data-logging, and ISO9000 quality documentation typically need to choose PC-based systems.
2. Is it expandable?
Look ahead at least five years to estimate how many test points you might ultimately need to test, and then make sure the tester you buy today is easily expandable. To avoid bench-top creep, look for a system that stacks as it expands. For optimal versatility and minimal operator retraining, check that the same system can be used to test either single cables or harnesses, and that the GUI is identical in case you ever need to add HiPot testing. Also, make sure the system supports infinite connector types through numerous graphic templates – you don’t want to be caught short with your next series of product releases – and that you have a wide range of standard connector boards from which to choose. It would also be helpful to know that the tester supplier can support you with custom interface boards and adapters should the need arise.
3. Is there a mode for real-time screening for intermittent connections?
Testing is incomplete without testing for intermittent errors; a cable can pass continuity testing, yet fail intermittence testing. This same cable, if installed, could cause a critical failure – perhaps resulting in loss of life. Testing for intermittent errors is carried out using a continuous rapid stream of short test pulses, each one sweeping through the full set of test points. Known sometimes as the “continuous” test, the test signal itself is sometimes mistakenly believed to be continuous. The higher the pulse rate, the more accurate the result, as there is a higher statistical likelihood of capturing the random moment of error. Testers that offer an intermittence test mode at too slow a rate will pass cables that fail on systems with high rates. Testers with the highest rates (and therefore most accurate results) will have USB interfaces. Some testers allow this rate to be adjustable, so that it can be set as fast as 11ms/cycle.
4. Does it permit automation scripting in a simple, intuitive language?
If your operators are performing repetitive multistep tests on your cables, you’ll want to automate the steps to improve productivity and reduce operator error. Ideally, your tester will allow a simple, intuitive language option for you to prepare these scripts with no previous programming skills. These same testers will provide a shortcut icon on the touch screen that leads the operator to the test at hand and only the features required for that test.
5. How flexible is tolerancing?
For greatest flexibility, and more intelligible reports, check whether the system allows tolerances to be optionally defined as percentages or absolute terms, as well as asymmetrically (e.g. +0%/-10%). Asymmetric tolerancing will allow you to pass more product than more constrained test parameters (e.g. +10%/-10%).
This article was contributed by CAMI Research.