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How T&M Miscues Could Be Costing You

Aug. 26, 2020
Results from a recent study expose how most businesses suffer from delays—leading to revenue loss—due to test equipment mishaps and failures.

Test and measurement (T&M) is a complex science, as most test engineers will tell you. Setups can be very finicky and calibration issues can doom your measurements from the start. Perhaps most importantly, the operator of the test setup needs to be well trained and highly knowledgeable. And, as shown in a recent study commissioned by Keysight, getting any of the above wrong is apt to cost you dearly.

As was revealed in the third-party study conducted by Dimensional Research, nearly all companies that design and develop electronic products experience costly and preventable delays stemming from misconfiguration, maintenance, or training issues related to test equipment.

The survey of 305 R&D engineers across multiple industries found that 98% of respondents reported workflow issues related to calibration and setup, equipment misuse, or equipment failures. And 97% experienced delays that directly caused revenue loss to their business, with 53% reporting over $100,000 of waste per day while waiting to resolve critical technical support issues.

Other key findings from the survey of 305 R&D engineers across multiple industries, such as the technology and telecom sectors, include:

  • Test-equipment-related problems cause delays for almost all companies: 97% of respondents said they experienced project delays stemming from test-equipment issues. Equipment failures requiring repair were the most common, cited by 63% of respondents, followed by equipment misconfigurations (56%) and equipment being out of calibration (50%).
  • Costs of lost days due to test-equipment problems are high: 53% said their companies lost over $100,000 per day when R&D teams could not make progress due to test-and-measurement equipment problems.
  • T&M equipment challenges are a regular problem: In a typical month, 95% of respondents said they needed to contact their test equipment vendors' technical support team at least once.
  • The business impact of equipment problems: 53% of survey respondents said product yield was negatively affected by test equipment failing to work properly. Furthermore, 47% said a product was rejected by a buyer and 45% said they had experienced increased product returns.
  • The value of expert test-related support services: 90% of respondents said they would value access to technical support expertise from outside the organization. Assistance with troubleshooting an issue was the most desired service (cited by 54%), followed by answers to technical questions and discussion (53%), understanding how a particular test or equipment feature works (49%), and calibration services (46%).

To that last bullet, don’t be afraid to lean on your equipment vendors for help. Application engineers at T&M vendors are paid to help customers solve their problems. Call them sooner rather than later before test issues overwhelm you and your team, impairing productivity and revenues.

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our contributor's packet, in which you'll find an article template and lots more useful information on how to properly prepare content for us, and send to me along with a signed release form. 

About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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