Software and Functional Testing Procedures and Configuration Management
All of SECO USA’s board-level hardware/software solutions are subjected to detailed functional testing procedures. SECO USA has developed a proprietary functional testing software framework that allows us to quickly customize the testing software to support new features for custom devices and boards. This software is supplemented by standard testing suites (such as Microsoft’s Windows CE Device Driver Test Kit). Creation of functional test software for each project is useful not only in production testing, but also in internal testing during software development.
SECO USA has developed a configuration management approach based on a periodic release schedule for managing our board-support packages (BSPs). Our BSPs and configurations and our proprietary power management software are tested using regressivetechniques to identify software bugs. At the end of each period, our platforms undergo updated functional testing, so as to identify and fix bugs that have appeared as a result of new and improved software features that have been incorporated in the period. The Director of Software Engineering manages these efforts and authorizes the release of updated BSPs for all supported operating systems (including Windows CE and Linux), which are provided to all purchasers of our reference platforms who are covered by software maintenance agreements. Subsequent reviews/audits are conducted to ensure configuration quality and to identify issues going forward to the next period. The Director of Software Engineering is our high-level representative with customers on configuration management issues. Customers with whom we have developed custom solutions benefit from this approach, since these custom solutions leverage our standard reference platforms and BSPs.
Functional testing is facilitated by customizable functional testing fixtures. SECO USA’s mechanical engineering staff provides designs for these fixtures, which include all mounting, cabling, and connectors so as to allow software developers and technicians to perform tests during development and production.
System- and Board-Level Testing and Regulatory Certification Procedures
SECO USA’s tasks during the design of a handheld or wireless device typically range from board-level hardware and system software design to complete packaged device design. Testing and regulatory certification requirements can vary depending on SECO USA’s design responsibilities.
For boards, depending on the size, complexity, and volume production quantities of the platform and in conjunction with our contract manufacturing partners, SECO USA employs a combination of in-circuit and functional testing to verify operation of board-level solutions. SECO USA has significant expertise in design-for-manufacturing (DFM) and ensures that each board design employs the right mix of in-circuit and functional test so as to achieve maximum test coverage with minimal test cost. Once a board has been prototyped and fielded in low quantities, SECO USA performs a DFM pass to resolve any layout and testing issues and design errors. During this stage, SECO USA works closely with its own contract manufacturing partners or partners of the customer’s choosing so as to produce a robust production solution.
SECO USA’s contract manufacturing partners are ISO9001 certified and use IPC standards for workmanship and manufacturing, and various other standards for material handling, testing, and sampling. Detailed information from our contract manufacturing partners is available, for those interested.
SECO USA partners with local test firms for product testing, compliance, and international certification. These firms provide full-service testing, and are capable of providing the following: Mil-Spec, US, Canadian and International certification testing for EMI, temperature, IP classification, FCC, CE Mark, vibration, etc.
For projects that include the development of a fully-packaged unit, SECO USA can take complete management responsibility for MILSPEC, national, and international certifications. For projects that involve the design of a board(s) within a device, a different approach is necessitated. Typically, the design of the main board within a packaged unit is subject to system design constraints, packaging limitations, and testing and certification requirements for the complete device. However, as the board is only one component of the device, it cannot be completely designed, built, and tested without the collaboration of the designers of the complete device.
For example, the customer may list a variety of environmental testing requirements. These requirements must be met by the entire device, not just the main board, and are dependent on packaging, external connectors, and other factors. As a result, board design is generally accomplished using a “best practices” approach, in which case SECO USA uses its expertise to craft a main board design that maximizes the likelihood that the complete device will pass compliance tests. In this approach, the customer manages testing, with background consulting from SECO USA.
SECO USA’s approaches to system and board testing have been successful in a variety of military, industrial, and commercial device development projects.