Product testing is a fundamental part of the product development process. In industry, it is essential to ensure performance, reliability, safety and durability in order to achieve success. In this article we explain what product testing is, its types and its importance in product optimization.
What is product testing?
Product testing is a process of measuring the properties, safety, quality, regulatory compliance and performance of products to ensure that the product fulfills the functionality for which it was designed and does so correctly.
A potential design may be subject to mismatches, technical failures, manufacturing problems, maintenance or failure to meet user needs. Testing is the primary way to identify these problems and is therefore critical in product development.
Testing is performed during the different stages of the development process, ranging from early verification in the early design stages to final testing. In the case of forensic engineering, they would serve to identify and address failures, as well as to optimize usage and design. As a general rule, designs are continuously tested and are subjected to testing, both virtually and physically, at any stage of product development, including the idea, development and production phases.
Objectives, usefulness and benefits of product testing
Before starting mass production of a product and launching it to the market, as well as when identifying possible failures, it is necessary to carry out exhaustive tests. This allows us to ensure that the product and components will perform as expected and serve their intended purpose. Some of the advantages of product testing are as follows:
- Review of concepts and designs to check the feasibility of ideas.
- Test the performance.
- Ensuring the technical feasibility of a new product.
- Ensuring compliance with requirements and regulations.
- Validate suitability for use.
- Ensure safety.
- Anticipate service life.
- Identify and solve potential problems.
- Improve products, components and production processes.
- Improve quality control and defect detection.
- Reduce production costs.
Types of product testing
There are different types of tests with which we can evaluate different aspects of products. Here are the most commonly used ones:
Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT)
Aims to uncover weaknesses early in the life cycle of components or a product, and is performed during the design or development phase.
Highly Accelerated Stress Testing (HASS)
Aims to uncover failures that occur during production and manufacturing processes.
Vibration and shock test
On the one hand, it consists of applying vibrations at various frequencies to a product, while shock testing subjects a product to sudden, short, high force levels to evaluate the product’s reaction.
Environmental stress screening (ESS)
These simulate the environmental conditions in which the product will be used, such as extreme temperatures, corrosive environments and persistent vibrations.
Accelerated aging tests
Simulate the weather conditions to which products and components will be exposed, such as sunlight, humidity and temperature extremes. Products commonly subjected to accelerated aging tests include automotive parts, building materials, agricultural equipment and furniture.
Thermal and humidity tests
They establish the temperature and humidity limits of products and their components and likewise help to discover the causes of defects associated with these factors.
Life cycle testing
Life cycle tests subject the product to an effort to discover faults and failures in order to predict the product’s service life, its maintenance requirements and provide appropriate warranties.
Mechanical strength tests
They evaluate a product’s reaction to repeated stress and measure the damage it will cause over the normal life of a product.
Industrial applications of product testing
Product testing is carried out in all kinds of industries such as consumer products, medical, automotive, energy, telecommunications, materials and others.
For example, manufacturers of medical devices, such as pacemakers or prostheses, need to know that their products are 100% safe and reliable and will perform as expected.
Similarly, the aerospace industry is another industry in which the reliability of all components is crucial to ensure safety, as aviation equipment is exposed to a range of extreme environmental conditions, vibrations, etc.
The same goes for the energy industry, whose equipment, such as power generators, meters and pipelines must be able to withstand a wide range of extreme situations.
On the other hand, the automotive sector is undergoing changes. Automakers are adding more digital components to vehicles and self-driving technology is evolving. Vehicles are complex products and therefore it is essential that all components are tested to ensure safety.