At Signal.X, we define manufacturing test as a category of automation and control systems that requires interaction with a device under test to exercise or simulate test conditions, as well as some method of data acquisition and signal processing to decide if the response indicates that the part was assembled correctly as part of the manufacturing process. This test can happen at the end of line (EOL) or as part of an in-process verification (IPV). Regardless of the type of test, these systems require some degree of both control and signal processing, and they are becoming more and more complex.
Years ago, end-of-line test systems were typically made up of a PLC and a PC working together, with the PLC providing the control and automation, and the PC providing the data acquisition and signal processing. However, with continued electrification and increasing complexity, several key changes are occurring:
- The control is becoming more complex, including high-speed digital communication over CAN, automotive Ethernet, or other protocols.
- The line between control and data acquisition is blurring – command signals become just as important to track as part of a test record as the system response.
- Data retention requirements are more critical with the increasing safety implications of autonomous driving capabilities.
- Assembly lines are being required to be more flexible in adapting to new models and part types.
- Plants are becoming adaptive – test data from one process can be used to make a downstream assembly or test station smarter – requiring tighter handshaking and more data.
All of these developments are rendering the old method of PLC/PC coordination unwieldy and ineffective. Modern test systems have to be smart, adaptive, and comprehensive when it comes to helping a manufacturing facility understand and improve both the process and the product.
STAX enables control and data acquisition to coexist in one platform, communicate over the latest digital protocols, and react to new data in real time. Leveraging Signal.X’s 15 years of delivering data-intensive production test systems, STAX brings together the latest technology in a platform built to meet the rigors of the plant floor.