With fiscal year 2004 revenue of $14.5 billion, Flextronics is the leading electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider focused on delivering services to technology companies in 32 countries on five continents. Flextronics manufactures and tests more than 500,000 products daily in industries ranging from communications infrastructure to consumer electronic
With strong production test experience, Flextronics has identified several test methodologies key to improving product throughput in a variety of production situations. With the complexity of new products steadily increasing, Flextronics believes functional test is and will continue to be the largest growth test method in use within its factories. With a test strategy based on this belief, Flextronics is saving millions of dollars each year by developing and implementing standardized test platforms based on National Instruments test hardware and software in an initiative called Flextronics Test Standardization (FTS).
In addition, using commercial off-the-shelf technology from National Instruments, Flextronics is able to integrate the latest software and hardware technologies as they are released without redesigning Flextronics test platforms. Test software, such as NI TestStand, and hardware, such as PXI and plug-in modular instrumentation, have been some of the most capable vehicles for maximizing efficiencies in functional test development and maintenance.
Flextronics facilities adopted these test systems based on NI test hardware and software to improve product throughput in a variety of production situations.
FTS Improves Manufacturing Process
The Flextronics common software platform provides a standard look and feel to all its test system designs. In addition, FTS software delivers a core architecture for test development and execution that is independent of the chosen hardware architecture and that offers a number of manufacturing advantages:
- Reduces development effort – Using the modular framework provided by NI TestStand, engineers are able to develop and integrate reusable test modules into a more maintainable test system architecture. As a result, Flextronics software engineers can develop more sophisticated test systems in a fraction of the time.
- Requires less training – FTS reduces costs by minimizing operator training through a common user interface. This provides greater flexibility in Flextronics factories because operators can work on a variety of test stations without specialized training. For software engineers, FTS standardizes test design guidelines so that engineers do not have to develop code each time from the ground up.
- Increases throughput – The FTS NI TestStand Process Model is capable of testing multiple devices under test (DUTs) simultaneously, and it displays the test status for independent DUTs with real-time trend data. This is essential for increasing functional test coverage without increasing the time allotted in manufacturing for product functional test.
- Improves data collection – FTS software outputs test results to local databases so that they are easily integrated into FlexFlow and other shop floor systems, which helps factories respond to test results and use the data history more effectively. Engineers share this same data with customers to help lead to better designs.
In addition to the FTS software standardization initiative, the complete test architecture also includes hardware platforms that are CE and TÜV certified. Flextronics has designed standard, generic hardware platforms to cover the majority of their testing needs. The most functional platforms are PXI-based, and their interface connectivity is easily expandable, which results in high flexibility and reduced test development time. The platform configuration includes several PXI devices and GPIB instrumentation to cover most of the test applications. Because of its inherent modular approach, this platform offers complete hardware reuse, efficient asset management, and lower costs. FTS software tightly links the test system resources for maximum parallel process execution.
NI Products Help Provide Quality Results
The FTS common hardware platforms guarantee that the software runs smoothly. Also, by using commercial off-the-shelf technology such as NI TestStand, PXI, and modular instruments, Flextronics has significantly reduced costs while keeping pace with technology advancements in test.