Solve Increasing Product Complexity with Test Data



Unlocking the Hidden Currency of Test Data

Semiconductor manufacturers use test data more than their counterparts in other industries. Chip complexity paired with manufacturing volumes is a big reason why. In terms of complexity, a single semiconductor chip has as many transistors as all the stones in the Great Pyramid in Giza1. Because each chip must be tested and retested before shipping, the volume of test data available is enormous. 

But our research reveals change is needed to accommodate massive amounts of data, regardless of industry, and it needs to happen soon: 52 percent of product organizations tell us that product complexity is slowing them down. “Manufacturing test data is a gold mine of product performance information,” says David Hall, global marketing and go-to-market director for NI’s portfolio business. “Our customers routinely apply advanced analytics to this information in real time to speed up the manufacturing process and catch product defects that would otherwise be undetectable.”

To turn that volume of data around, product manufacturers must make a virtue out of necessity. If they can exploit the ever-increasing amount of test data available from these complex devices, they can improve efficiency, quality, and consistency—and get to market more quickly.

Four Ways to Make More of Your Test Data

1.    Create a connected view of your data

The volume of test data that manufacturers have at their fingertips should give them a competitive advantage—because with it, they can pinpoint sources of error or areas for improvement in their product. How comprehensive and accessible is your test data?

Mufaddal Senwari, product operations manager at Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, urges manufacturers to focus on the full lifecycle, from testing to iteration. “We need insights that help us decide what to build and how to build those products, but we also need insights that help us improve on what we have already done,” he says. “There is huge value in collecting that data, storing it, and continually updating it.”

2. Build a foundation on test data

Test data is an often-untapped resource with incredible potential. Obviously, it ensures that manufacturers are producing consistent and high-quality products, but it also helps them understand where they need to fix pain points and failures in the manufacturing process. Constant iteration is key.

“Testing adds value,” says Eric Schickler, engineering section manager at Northrop Grumman. “Where testing gets involved earlier, it provides the ability to interject and make sure those needs are addressed.” Digital twin technology can speed up that process, Schickler says, by enabling manufacturers to run digital simulations of new products to generate testing data before any physical manufacturing is necessary.

3. Optimize production by acting decisively on data

Manufacturers are under pressure to ship more quickly. Trusting the insight generated by their product data and acting accordingly is one way to improve time to market.

In our research, 58 percent of businesses say that shrinking time-to-market requirements will have a moderate or major impact on their organizations in the next two years, so it’s crucial to build feedback loops and empower leaders to move swiftly.

4. Close the talent gap

Many businesses in our research say that skills gaps are holding them back. To plug those gaps and use data more effectively, they might need to recruit more imaginatively and turn to other industries for talent.

“We brought in someone who had spent time at NASA,” says Joseph Felicelli, director of product strategy at Phillips Industries, a company specializing in commercial transportation. “That might seem like bringing a Ferrari to a Sunday drive, but he looks very differently at what we are trying to do. We are taking leaps based on the information and the knowledge he has brought into the organization.”

The Foundations for Your Data

Best-in-class product organizations have a robust data strategy, but how do you get started? The first step is managing test data and making sure it’s structured, meaningful, and organized. You need the right data, stored in the right place, made accessible to the right people. We’ve broken down the six steps that start you on the path to building a solid data strategy that boosts both product and business performance.

Now is the time for organizations across all industries to recognize the power of test data to better manage and improve products and processes. Those that do will be better positioned to win.