Axis Electronics has invested in a full suite of boundary-scan development tools from JTAG Technologies - the UK's pre-eminent supplier of IEEE1149-compliant solutions. The investment is primarily to facilitate advanced structural tests and the programming of PLDs and Flash memory devices, both of which are to play key roles in Axis' business strategy. Based in Bedford and operating from a 2230m2 facility, Axis Electronics is one of the UK's leading specialist electronic manufacturing service providers to the defence, aerospace, industrial, oil and gas, instrumentation, medical and automotive sectors.
Paul Jackson, Axis' Engineering Manager, comments: "We've enjoyed steady growth during our 12 year history but the contract manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and tighter margins mean we must get into a cycle of continually offering more to our end customers".
Axis' strategy is to complement its extensive manufacturing capabilities with test services that ensure the fast-turnaround (delivery) of the required inventory of quality tested boards. And to do that, Axis needs second-to-none test tools that can quickly pin-point any assembly defects.
What's more, due to the nature of Axis' business (or more specifically its customers' businesses) the company is also caught in something of a 'pincer movement', between increasing board/component complexities and challenging project timescales. On one hand the company is placing devices in microBGAs, chip-scale packages, QFPs (with 0.3mm lead pitch) and is working frequently with nonstandard substrates, and on the other hand its customers are demanding rapid turnarounds on fully tested boards.
Jon Westall, Axis' Principal Test Engineer, adds: "In our business there's no trade-off between high test coverage/accuracy and fast turnaround time. Our customers expect, and receive, both. So it's extremely important to use tools that automate as much as possible. For example, JTAG Technologies' tools can automatically generate interconnect tests, including a check for pull-ups and pull-down resistors".
Westall adds that such automation can make a huge difference in the day-to-day life of a CEM: "If you're only testing a few dozen boards the quickest development route is the best option all round".
JTAG Technologies' multiple TAP port capability is also cited as a strong reason for why its solutions are preferred for Axis' high-end boundary-scan test capabilities. Without multiple TAP port capability, manufacturers are faced with either longer test times per board or hand-crafting a header to string together multiple TAPs which often feature on complex designs. "And either solution can easily double the time and cost of a test", warns Westall.
In addition to fast and enhanced test capabilities, Axis is also using JTAG Technologies' tools to offer 'value-added' services. These include the ability to take many preproduction designs, where boundary-scan may have been only partially implemented, and offer services to extend the test coverage through functional cluster testing.
"If necessary we can also advise customers of minor design changes that will increase test coverage, because current coverage is automatically indicated by the JTAG Technologies system prior to starting any real programming work", adds Westall.
James Stanbridge, JTAG Technologies Sales Manager for the UK comments: "We're delighted to be working more closely with Axis, who have been giving great support to our OEM customers for several years now. As their test capabilities increase so does their market appeal, which is key in these competitive times".
Jon Westall, Principal Test Engineer, Axis Electronics
Applications: hardware engineering, embedded software engineering, test engineering and production
Industry: contract manufacturing (ems & cem), military & aerospace, health care, automotive and test & measurement