Panasonic uses National Instruments to test Toughbook laptop PCBs | Automation.com

Panasonic uses National Instruments to test Toughbook laptop PCBs

November 22, 2009 - National Instruments announced that Panasonic engineers are using NI hardware and software products for the automated testing of new computer PCBs, including those in the new Toughbook rugged laptops. Panasonic has combined NI PXI modular hardware instrumentation with NI LabVIEW graphical development software and NI TestStand test management software to create a streamlined automated test system that has decreased the cost of system development and maintenance. By using this combination of NI hardware and software, Panasonic integrated multiple measurement functions into a single PXI test system that reduces physical footprint by more than 50 percent and significantly decreases power consumption.

“With our previous system, we had separate individuals managing program development and hardware development,” said Naoki Okumura, factory planning team manager at Panasonic. “Because our new NI test system is based on the user-friendly graphical programming language of LabVIEW, we no longer require our engineers to have specialized knowledge in program development because our hardware experts now can handle most programming tasks. Additionally, when a corporate customer requires a specification change to the laptops, we can efficiently modify our test system because of the flexibility of LabVIEW and PXI.”

For Panasonic, the key to stabilizing PC quality is to make the quality of the PCB consistent within each computer. With the company’s previous test system, engineers used a different type of test instrument for each type of measurement needed in testing the PCB. This required engineers to learn how to use and develop custom test programs for each test instrument. During this process, each new advancement in PCB technology needed a new, more advanced set of test instrumentation and accompanying programs, which demanded significant time and labor expenditures. Additionally, footprint size and power consumption increased as the number of test instruments increased. This cycle of increasing time and cost expenditures necessitated numerous system efficiency improvements.

Faced with these demands for improved efficiency, Panasonic decided to implement NI PXI modular instruments because of the PXI platform’s compact chassis, which accommodates a wide selection of modules to add functionality as needed. The engineers integrated their hardware with the LabVIEW and NI TestStand environments because of the environments’ flexible, high-performance tools for developing automated test systems with user-friendly programming interfaces. By combining test hardware and software into one system, Panasonic engineers now can maintain test system stability and reliability in accordance with the highest standards. If a problem occurs during testing, it takes engineers less time to identify the source. Additionally, the new system integrates several specialized test instruments into a single system, which reduces its physical footprint by at least 50 percent and significantly decreases its power consumption. All of these factors have led to overall decreases in the total cost of ownership for the Panasonic PCB test system.

About National Instruments
National Instruments is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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