Tech Refresh Plan Checklist
for updating obsolete Automated Test Systems

When should you use this checklist?

If you’ve recently upgraded an obsolete test system, or are about to embark on an upgrade, a tech refresh plan can help guide the process.

The objective of a Tech Refresh Plan is to review the state of the test system with regard to the life cycle of its components assessed against the life cycle(s) of the product(s) being tested.

This checklist will help get you started as you develop a tech refresh plan.

Provide Test System Context – Summarize the use of the existing test system with regard to the products being tested. Gather information on:

  • How many types of products are being tested?
  • What are the production volumes?
  • Is the tester being used only for manufacturing or also for repair and rework?
  • Is this tester the only one that can test the parts?

Life Cycle and Spares Review: List each component in the existing tester for both HW and SW (create a BOM) and gather information on its place in its product life cycle.

  • When is the component going end-of-life?
  • If in jeopardy of being obsolete in the next few years (even if suspected only), identify possible replacements.
  • Can spares be used to lengthen the life of the tester? How many spares and for which components?
  • Can component and tester maintenance alleviate some issues by extending the life of the tester?
  • Will the tester need additional capability in the foreseeable future for new product designs?
  • What is the life cycle of the products being tested? How long does the tester need to be kept functional?

Risk Assessment: Enumerate and rank the risks associated with upgrading the tester.

  • Review the expected life of the products being tested and whether the parts used in the tester will last longer or not.
  • Can other testers fill the gap if the tester breaks?
  • How long will it take to upgrade the tester?
  • Should you make a last-time-buy for soon-to-be obsolete components or use eBay?
  • What are the impacts if you do nothing?

Determine and Review Upgrade Options:

  • Estimate cost and schedule for each option. Options include (1) doing nothing (2) “duct-taping” and (3) building a completely new tester to allow for expected future use (say for a new product design).
  • Remember the possible re-certification effort. Consider batching changes to facilitate a single re-test/re-cert activity, at the risk or expense of shorter-term failures for some component.
  • Estimate the costs and scheduling of the maintenance of this tester as compared with that expected for a new tester – replacing that troublesome part sooner than later might save a bunch of money in the long run.

Budget and Schedule Planning:

  • If an upgrade will not be done, you will likely need to fix the tester in an emergency when it stops working unexpectedly. Will you have enough spares? Estimate the cost and scheduling budgets of handling that emergency repair.
  • If an upgrade is imminent, begin the process of obtaining a budget so that your company is not caught off guard if the upgrade happens sooner than expected.
  • Consult with production to merge tester upgrade and production activity schedules.
  • If you’d like help updating your test system, check out our test system migration page, then reach out here for a consultation.

5 Keys to Upgrading Obsolete Manufacturing Test Systems »