Philips Rethinks Functional Test, Shortening Time to Market

Neil Evans, Senior Manager, Philips

?

Case Study Highlights

?

  • Company—Philips is an $18B international healthcare technology company.

  • Challenge—Maintain quality?despite rising product?complexity while reducing cycle time and meeting?short development schedules.??

  • Solution—Standardized?approach?using?PXI and LabVIEW to abstract all coding complexity from users without limiting?the?functionality required?to meet stringent test coverage requirements.

  • Success—Decreased?development resources?per project by 80%,?improved?cycle time?by?10X,?reduced?sustaining effort?by?10X,?and improved?test coverage.

  • Value—Reduced?total?operating expenses?per project?by an estimated?>$2M.

Figure 1. Philips XL14-3 XMatrix? Transducer.

“The move to a COTS approach using PXI and LabVIEW was critical to this production-test success at Philips. The combination of best-in-class modular hardware along with industry-standard software was pivotal to the millions of dollars and hundreds of hours saved in production test engineering.”

—Neil Evans, Senior Manager, Philips

The Challenge

Philips required a new production-test approach to reduce development schedules and sustaining effort while maintaining or increasing test coverage and quality.

The Solution

Standardized platform was implemented where a common set of code modules and COTS instruments could be configured to meet each test station’s needs.

With more than 70,000 employees and more than $18B in annual revenue Philips is a leading global healthcare technology company.

?

Ultrasound products?are crucial in?a variety of applications,?including cardiovascular, obstetrics, gynecology, musculoskeletal, liver,?and kidney?imaging. To?lead?medical science in these areas, practitioners require higher-resolution images in more accessible form factors.?Recent?rapid product innovation to meet these demands has created significant?and unprecedented?time-to-market?pressure,?which?is compounded by growing product complexity, higher production volumes, global manufacturing?distribution, increased regulation,?and long station-deployment life?cycles.

?

These?factors?created an executive-level?appetite to?redesign?test approaches,?processes,?and technology.

?

  • Complexity—Create a platform approach to address the current and future test needs of a diverse portfolio of groundbreaking Ultrasound transducers
  • Quality—Significantly improve?first?pass?yield to gain manufacturing efficiency while maintaining high?product?quality standard
  • Life Cycle—Reduce sustaining costs by increasing stability over?a 15+?year test-station?life?cycle
  • Development Schedule—Reduce test?solution development effort and throughput time?per?new?product?introduction by up to 80%
  • Manufacturing Volume—
    • Increase manufacturing volume of some products by more than 20X, to?tens?of thousands of units
    • Improve manufacturing uptime across?a?globally distributed supply chain
  • Regulation—
    • Reduce certification time that can traditionally take up to?six?months per system
    • Reduce post deployment updates that require recertification
  • Data—Maintain complete data?sets for every test on every DUT
?

Time-to-market is a key priority at Philips. In order to meet tightening development schedules, a higher-level starting point for new test solutions?had to be developed that would allow?engineering teams?to?configure an existing solution?to meet their needs?rather than start from scratch.?Criteria for the standard solution were:

?

  • Provide a rapid configuration?of test solutions?to address?new and existing product and subassembly?test needs for multiple process steps

  • Scale to meet future product needs (test-step?expansion, signal processing, instrument configurations, and?communication/data interfaces) while minimizing additional code development and code recertification

  • Center?on widely available COTS elements to ease global supply-chain and sustaining challenges and significantly reduce the need for custom DUT interfaces

    ?

A standardized platform solution was implemented where a common set of code modules and COTS instruments could be configured to meet the test needs of each test station.

?

?

?

Solution Architecture

We developed a?software architecture with minimal dependencies between code modules?so?that each function can operate in the same fashion,?independent of the context within which it runs.?This allows for significant code reuse?of well-written, verified code,?improving?time-to-market, code quality,?and the number of regulatory recertifications.

?

When a?new product?must be tested, the only elements to be developed are?the XML configuration file and the fixture. This?shortens?not only development?time,?but also certification,?as most of the code is unchanged and?so existing?certification documents?can be referenced. This is much like when an?orchestra?is?handed new sheet music—they can play a different tune without changing?musicians, instruments,?or conductor.

?

If a product specifies a new process or measurement,?the required new?code?can be written and added?to the library without?affecting?existing framework.?It’s?similar to when?a new orchestral arrangement requires a specialized?instrument,?such as a grand piano: It?can be added without disturbing the existing configuration.?Critically,?the other musicians can still?play all?of the?other?pieces in their repertoire with no changes, while?the pianist simply sits in silence.?In our case,?tests?for all previous products used by the platform?do not need to be redeveloped or recertified?each time we add a new one.

?

Software Selection

We chose?LabVIEW,?the?industry-standard?test engineering?tool, for?its fully featured hardware-integration capabilities. The LabVIEW Actor Framework is a published software architecture that met?this test solution’s?extensive needs due to its well-known, tried-and-tested status—we quickly could hire and train contributing engineers?for development.

?

The?common proficiency in LabVIEW across Philips provides straightforward path for adoption across the organization of?this standard test framework.

?

Hardware

The primary concern in hardware selection was the?measurement capability, precision timing,?and stability?of the instrumentation.?We decided?to move from a solution that relied heavily on proprietary hardware to a COTS solution based on PXI?because of:

?

  • Scalability—Adding?new functionality?with simple modules?keeps?time-to-market?short.

  • Coverage—The wide breadth of I/O and firmware functions?gives?us?confidence in complete test?coverage, both?now and in the future.

  • Accuracy—PXI?has?best-in-class measurement accuracy,?combined with?tight timing/triggering?across?the?chassis backplane, unobtainable with a?“rack-and-stack”?box instrument approach.?

  • Robustness—PXI’s industry-proven hardware reliability?ensures optimum overall equipment effectiveness.

?

Success

We deployed the system in six globally distributed manufacturing sites and expect significant future adoption.

?

Results—compared to previous solution testing similar DUTs

?

  • Complexity—Test coverage and signal-path improvements?meet the needs of a?diverse portfolio of state-of-the-art?xMatrix?ultrasound transducers
  • Quality—Easy access to test data?drives?significant?yield?improvements through structured problem-solving
  • Life Cycle—
    • Significant ongoing cost savings?through?10X reduction in?resources required to sustain the systems
    • Almost no?unplanned?test?downtime?exists,?thanks to?reliable test hardware and verified error-free software
    • Absolutely no?platform software changes?have been?required since deployment in 2018
  • Development Schedule—We achieved an?80% reduction in NPI test development effort and schedule
  • Manufacturing Volume—
    • Product-level test cycle time reduced by?10X
    • Wafer test cycle time reduced by?5X
  • Regulation—Certification?validation?reduced by four months:?From?between five and six?months to?two?months
  • Data—One?global database system delivers?complete test traceability
?
Several?additional?factors were key to this project’s success:
?
  • Executive Sponsorship—The ability to?articulate the business value that a test organization could deliver?was critical. In this case,?we could forecast?the exponential development and sustaining costs in-line with increased product?complexity.?A?vision of breaking the relationship between product complexity and test-system cost?provided executive buy-in.
  • Engineering proficiency—Because any plan is only as good as the people executing it,?critical to the creation of this initiative was?our recruitment?and continual?engagement of?two leading software architects and one hardware designer?who formed our core team.?We attribute this project’s success to these lead engineers’?innovation and?ongoing?diligence?as a collaborative team effort.
  • Technology Adoption—Moving?to a COTS approach using PXI and LabVIEW was critical?to?our?to this?production?test success?at Philips. The combination of best-in-class modular hardware along with industry-standard software?was pivotal to the?millions of dollars and hundreds of hours?saved?in production-test engineering.

?

?

Future Vision

The most significant investment?in standardization comes with?forming?a core team?to set up?the initial framework. Once complete, adding updates and maintaining code?bases is a lighter lift because,?at this stage, teams?from different organizations?can participate as local contributors, leveraging existing test steps and processes while adding to the overall code base when additional functionality?is needed.?Company-wide, users?can utilize?an ever-expanding toolset,?which they can access through XML configuration files.?

?

The process is governed in the following way:

?

  • A core team develops?and curates a?general library of functions
  • Engineers on different?local?teams develop libraries?of LabVIEW code performing?new requirements
  • Each code module includes requirements and validation documentation
  • Local libraries?can be contributed to?the?general library
  • Users?create XML files that configure platforms and applications—without the need to understand the underlying LabVIEW code—using?a?combination of local and general library functions

?

Further opportunity?to optimize product and manufacturing processes?exists?through better?utilizing?test data and connected test systems.?The?large scale?of manufacturing?creates a data-rich?environment,?so?by harmonizing?our?data approach across manufacturing sites and products,?we can gain?greater insights?to?deliver significant operational benefits.

?

Authors

Neil Evans, Senior Manager, Product Industrialization Test—Philips Healthcare

Brian Bassett,?Senior Product Industrialization Engineer—Philips Healthcare

Davy Hwang,?Segment Lead, R&D Innovation—Philips Healthcare

?

Figure 2. Image captured using XL14-3 XMatrix? Transducer.
Figure 3. Solution diagram highlighting that only new XML configuration file and DUT fixturing must be developed for new product designs.
Figure 4. Collaboration diagram showing interaction between test engineering development teams and users at Philips.
夜狼影视