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Get Aggressive with Testing

January 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Test Stations 

ZeroDefectsAre you ready to get aggressive with your test strategy? Changing hardware requires more aggressive testing. The zero-defect strategy companies aim for generally helps set ambitious goals for defect detection, but they never reach the goal completely, and there is no single inspection or testing system that can meet the needs of every manufacturing environment.Show/Hide

Laser cutting of metal sheet with sparksTo ensure test success, do you use a combination of design for manufacturing (DFM) and test (DFT)? What about data collection/analysis, automated optical inspection (AOI), in-circuit testing (ICT), and functional tests? How do you develop an effective test strategy that considers the critical stages along the manufacturing process?



The error that most manufacturers make is in placing the quality control at the end of the process hoping to cull out all of the defective product. This never works and it never will.  The only effective Zero-Defect program that works is one where the quality is controlled at strategic points along the process. If this is established correctly, there is no need for a QC department at the end of the process, except perhaps for verification of the QC functions built into the process by means of an effective sampling plan.


photo-3_38The problem is that most manufacturers are not willing to invest in the QC along the way. Instead, they simply try to push as much raw material through process as possible and then complain about the outcome when the process tanks. It is the equivalent to being a poor sport.  If you want a truly effective strategy that limits defects and provides a holistic approach to testing and tolerances, it’s best to look at the entire manufacturing line and not just the end result.

Critical Criteria for Test Equipment: Part 4

September 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Service Tags, Test Stations 

This is the final part of our 4 part series that will examine some key features you want to consider when planning and configuring your manufacturing testing facilities.  Keep in mind, these individual features can often be combined or added onto an existing product for increased functionality.Show/Hide

Short Circuit Detection

With the initial application of power to a product there is always a possivility that the input power line to the product is short-circuited.  To protect the operator and the product, a short circuit detector can be used.  It operates faster than a circuit breaker and its level can be an adjustable test parameter.

Audit Station

When a high volume of appliances is being manufactured and tractability of each product is not required, an audit station becomes  practical solution.  Basic test stations without data acquisition are used in the manufacturing cells.  A single audit station is used to test samples from the line.  The audit station has extended test capacity and provides statistical analysis of the data for quality control.

Long Term Cycle Testing

A complete quality monitoring system calls for life cycle testing.  Cycle test stations allow continuous testing while monitoring and recording critical parameters.  Automatic controls assure functional tests are performed on schedule and out of tolerance products are turned off.  The automatic data collection system provides MTBF data as well as statistical analysis of the product’s performance.

Tracing Repair Actions

If a total product history is desired, repair action and audit results on non-conforming products can be recorded.  These can be traced to the affected product by model and serial number.

We hope you found these suggestions helpful and informative.  Feel free to leave your own in the comments section or ask us any questions you might have.

Critical Criteria for Test Equipment: Part 3

September 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Service Tags, Test Stations, Wiring Devices 

Part three of a four part series that will examine some key features you want to consider when planning and configuring your manufacturing testing facilities.  Keep in mind, these individual features can often be combined or added onto an existing product for increased functionality.Show/Hide

Bar Coding of Products

If bar codes are available on the products, they provide an ideal way of programming the test station for the proper series of tests.

Dielectric Testing of Powered Products

If the product contains safety circuits, or if a minimum total test cycle time is desired, simultaneous testing should be considered.  This feature allows the product to be in operation during the performance of the dielectric test.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

When a product is plugged in the first time, or the operator is required to make adjustments to the electrical circuit, the use of GFCI’s should be considered.  Full time ground fault interrupter circuits protect the operator should they contact the electrical circuit.

Stay tuned for more!

Critical Criteria for Test Equipment: Part 2

August 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Test Stations, Wiring Devices 

Part two of a four part series that will examine some key features you want to consider when planning and configuring your manufacturing testing facilities.  Keep in mind, these individual features can often be combined or added onto an existing product for increased functionality.Show/Hide

Mixing Domestic and Exported Products

Appliances for North America and the International market are manufactured and tested in the same cell by using quick change test receptacles.  An outlet strip containing the carious receptacles may be used.  The test station can furnish the proper voltage to each.  The correct frequency can also be supplied if necessary.

Teach the Tester

If you manufacture products such as hair dryers or fans, but the product mix changes frequently, use a special feature that teaches the tester.  A good sample product is cycled through its various speeds and heat settings.  The tester measures the results and uses them (with tolerances applied) as test parameters to test similar products.  Safety tests such as dielectric strength are not affected with this process.

Central Data Collection Point

Networking all test stations within a product group to a host computer allows all test data to be retained at a single point.  This supports your data acquisition and statistical process control efforts.

Ground Verification

For operator safety, a second test circuit verifies that the frame of the product is held at a true ground potential whenever power is applied.

Stay tuned for more!

Critical Criteria for Test Equipment: Part 1

August 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Test Stations 

This is the first of a four part series that will examine some key features you want to consider when planning and configuring your manufacturing testing facilities.  Keep in mind, these individual features can often be combined or added onto an existing product for increased functionality.Show/Hide

Work Cells

When the concept of just-in-time inventory is important to your operation, manufacturing cells are one of the major solutions to this need.  Cells allow immediate feedback if a problem develops and promotes a strong team spirit.  Individual test stations can be provided as standalone testers, or networked to a host computer, whichever makes the most sense for your operations.

Connect Once Only

To achieve the fastest test cycle time with lowest operator fatigue, perform all tests with a single connection.  With careful design of the test area, the operator can plug in the product once and perform any cycle, safety, or performance tests.


If the product is a motor driven or a heating appliance, a run-in period may be desired.  If so, design the test area so the product remains connected from run-in through final test.  Automatic circuits can be used to control the timing period.  Also, keep in mind a turntable with rotating receptacles may improve efficiency.

Central Control of the Test Parameters

Networking test stations ensures that uniform test parameters are applied to all products.  This not only allows the data to drive your processes, but also gives you the added benefit of analyzing and measuring the effectiveness of your testing line, giving you real time feedback on what’s actually happening on the floor.

Stay tuned for more!

Are Liability Concerns Also Manufacturing’s Job?

August 16, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Test Stations 

So your boss is harping on about liability protection and the importance of investing in new testing equipment and following safety protocols. Sure, they’re concerned about the wellbeing of their floor crew, but in the end it all boils down to dollars and cents. Why should you, as a front line employee be concerned about things like liability protection? Well, here’s a couple reasons that might serve as a wakeup call:Show/Hide

Good for the Goose – Good for the Gander

As a manager, when looking at capital appropriation requests and purchasing new testing equipment to improve liability protection, you’re concerned about saving yourself from unnecessary lawsuits and litigation. From a workers perspective though sometimes it’s hard to see how that benefits you. Well consider it this way – How much do you value your job? What would happen if your plant was shut down due to a costly and debilitating claim? How does that affect your career? Your family? Your life? There are very real consequences to not being covered in today’s world, and you’re the first wave in keeping that from happening.

It’s Your Life on the Line

Manufacturing workers and plant owners and management have had a long standing tradition of butting heads on certain issues (where do you think unions came from?), but on this issue, they unanimously agree. Safety is not only a fiscal concern, but it’s also a human one. When you’re working in any kind of high risk environment, it’s essential that all equipment is sound, workers are alert and procedures are followed to the T. Liability protection isn’t just about keeping the company profitable, but about keeping the people behind it safe and secure in their jobs.

Paint Sprayer Manufacturing Line Tester

July 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Service Tags, Test Stations 

How to Save Money with Test Equipment Rentals


Do you have the need for high quality electrical testers to keep your equipment in top shape and avoid costly repairs?  Most organizations that work with fine tuned machinery do, however not a lot of companies can afford a full blown electrical testing station with top of the line data collection and measurement capabilities.  A single tester can cost several thousands of dollars, and put a serious dent in the operations budget.Show/Hide

So how do you meet this need and still keep the budget tight?  To get around the expensive price tag of testers, you might want to consider renting.  With test equipment rental, you only need to pay for a fraction of the cost and get the added benefit of on demand availability.  Use it when you need it, don’t pay for it when you don’t!

For testing equipment needs, Sotcher provides leading machinery to some of the major rental companies in the industry.  We measure and test our own products to the highest standard, and that level of quality and reliability can’t be beat by any other test equipment manufacturer.  We also have a dedicated support staff available at all times to ensure they get the equipment they need, on time and calibrated to exacting standards.  Give us a call today for a complete list of available test equipment and any other questions you may have.

How Data Acquisition Can Save Your A$$

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Service Tags, Test Stations 

Liability is a reality of today’s business environment and if you’re not prepared to protect yourself, regardless of whether those claims are valid or not, you may be risking not only your company’s welfare but your own job as well.  So what’s the one thing stopping you from being exposed and keeping your company and your job in check?  Read on to find out.Show/Hide


In our previous post we touched on the importance of data acquisition and how it’s revolutionized line testing and manufacturing processes.  The ability to gather information from a wide number of sources and combine them into a single piece of information or trend is critical for management to determine when a product group falls outside established guide lines.  But what’s the real advantage to an organization from robust and automated data acquisition technologies?


Aside from improved visibility for management and eliminating the hassle of paperwork and endless documents that get stuffed into a file cabinet, never to be seen again, what is the real benefit to the company as a whole?  Most people don’t think about this when assessing the payback on data acquisition, but we have two words for you – Liability Protection.


When you tie all test data, repair service and warranty maintenance together from start to finish, you get a detailed holistic view of the lifespan for each serial number that goes through your testing process.  This can be a huge help if the equipment ever malfunctions or breaks down, causing injury or potential harm to the person using it.  Having this data on hand and easily accessible keeps your company from being held accountable and provides a documented roadmap of each preventative step along the way.

3 Key Indicators You Could Use a Better Testing Program

May 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Service Tags, Test Stations 

Testing and maintaining your industrial equipment can not only save you time and money in the long run, but it also helps limit your liability and keeps your workforce and customers safe from any potential safety hazards.  Most people do routine testing of their equipment, but how do you know if it’s up to snuff?  We’ve spoken to the experts and determined 3 key indicators that your current testing program could use some work.Show/Hide

1. Adherence to Standards

A good place to start is to evaluate your internal and external standards for compliance.  All equipment manufacturers have to adhere to external testing standards as specified by the UL, CSA and TUV, but where they are lacking is establishing a set of internal standards to take it one step farther and ensure product quality.

2. Testing Spectrum Evaluation

Another area to evaluate when determining if your testing is procedures are best in their field is to evaluate the types of testing you’re currently doing.  Safety tests are just one area you can look at.  You also want to make sure you’re measuring on performance, quality, reliability, acceptance and routinely auditing all of these procedures.

3. Manual vs. Automatic Operations

When looking at your testing system as a whole, what percentage of the process is automated and what portion is manual?  The more automation and customization you can incorporate into your testing process, the lower the possibility for error and the more streamlined your system as a whole will be.  Most people can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to evaluating their testing procedures.  Take some time to critically evaluate your current system for increased efficiencies.

Long Story Short

There are a number of other areas to evaluate when determining if your testing procedures meet the grade, but by starting with these three important criteria, you’ll have a good understanding of where your current systems might be lacking and what direction you’ll need to take to improve them.

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