Nick's Software Blog

Custom Database Software Development Melbourne

March 29th, 2015

Posted In: Agilent In Circuit Test, Machines Monitoring, Machines Monitoring Systems, Password Keeper, SEO, SEO Tips, Uncategorized, WEB APPS


If you are in EMS business, you know how important is to have a good test solution for all your products.
A common test solution is In Circuit Test and also you might have:

  •  Visual Inspection,
  • AOI (Automatic Optical Inspection),
  • X-RAY,
  • Functional Test
  • and many more.

ICT is many times a basic requirement for PCBA’s testing.
Test solution has to be properly designed and deployed in order to give you a good test coverage.

Once you have it designed, deployed, validated, you need to get under control the messages from the ICT machines.

ICT prints dockets for each failed PCBA and also creates logfiles, where tests results and measurement are recorded/logged.

It’s all good to have the data saved in the log files, but when you need to analyze large amount of information from the log files you need a tool that will help you extract and organize these data.

Scripts, OEM software tools have been made available, but quite often these tools were expensive and not really designed for engineering needs.

HPDC (HP Data Collector) Inception

I had the same issue as many others, had data available in the log files, but it was so damn hard to get them out of there and make them useful, meaningful, summarized in a good report.

For example, many time I’ve questioned myself:

  • Which are the top 10 ICT failures for a specific product (real time, would be nice)?
  • What’s the average test time for a product?
  • What’s the average measurement for a specific test?
  • What’s ICT loading/utilization?
  •  What’s the ICT yield (the real one)?
  • How many times the boards are tested (number of retests)?
  • Are going out to the customers only boards that passed ICT?
  • The right ICT program has been used to test the PCBAs?
  • What should I do with a fail board if the fail docket is missing? Do I have to test it again when failure data are available somewhere (log file)?

I couldn’t find too much help checking available solutions from ICT manufacturers like HP (Agilent), IFR (Marconi), Genrad and then I’ve started thinking how can it be done?

 HPDC – What it does?

HPDC is a file parser – it opens log files, from ICT Machines like HP3070, IFR4220, takes relevant information from them, and sends the information to a MySQL database.

Now that data are nicely organized, in a MySQL database purposely built for easy access, creating reports should be an easy task.

HPDA (HP Data Analyzer) – What it does?

HPDA is a software solution developed to interpret data collected by HPDC, bring them closer to you, make them useful.
Through comprehensive reports this software is capable to present a holistic image of your ICT testers.

Need to know yields, top defects, retest, cycle time – you’ll have them in a sec.

Need to know ICT machines utilization – done in a sec.

Need to see more specific failure report or failures related with a specific serial number or do paperless debug – no worries.

Need to know if a board was pass or fail last time when it was tested, or if that board was tested using the right program – too easy.

The whole bunch of log files data at your fingertips, that’s useful.

If you want to find more about HPDC & HPDA or ICT data collection/collectors in general check the webpage linked below:

Or contact me.

Have fun playing with your ICT machines….


March 30th, 2012

Posted In: Agilent In Circuit Test, HP In Circuit Test, HP3070, ICT, IFR In Circuit Test, IFR4220, Machines Monitoring, Machines Monitoring Systems, WEB APPS


I have been working as an engineer in EMS (electronics manufacturing services) since 97 and always I had a special fascination for all kind of machines/robots used to DO our job – from Screen Printers, Chip Placers, Fine Pitch Placers, Reflow Ovens, Was Soldering, Conformal Coating, In Circuit Testers, Functional Testers, etc.

All of them are capable to follow a program/recipe and spit out log files containing lots of useful information.
Many times we rush through our duties and DO NOT pay enough attention to the data.
Many tried to prove that this behavior is wrong, but at the end of the day – quantity prevails quality big times and accountants rule the industry, and LLR countries are luring accountants.

I used to say – you as an engineer have to ‘explain’ any new idea in $ otherwise is absolutely dead – nobody will give a s**t on it and is absolutely dead. Yes, if you have a great revelation, engineering one – try put it plain and simple for money people: ROI (spend now, recover in x months…afterwards ++ profit), because nobody is excited by engineering facts – money talks.

Enough idle talk – I always liked to have a real time ‘vision’ of what machines talk and interpret their chat and take advantage of this knowledge. SMT, Wave Soldering, ICT are in place since 30 years ago, but despite huge transformation of the machines hardware, manufacturing is mainly still done using pen and paper – best case tons of EXCEL.
Excel you would say it’s a good tool, but requires lots of people getting data from archaic paper, filling out forms, copy paste formulas, do graphs and having the report done……MUCH TOO LATE…and then if you need the data tomorrow start again and having it done….again TOO LATE.
Data is valuable if is FRESH and can take use of it….detect trends, identify root causes.

One of the simplest things that I would like to have and I have implemented, is to know the Overall Equipment Effectiveness – OEE – old concept – handy to know it.
It will give you more understanding of your inefficiencies and uncover ways to overcome them.

OEE=A * P * Q

A – Availability – represents time when machines are available percentage from total scheduled time

P – Performance or at the other end Speed Loss – time lost with short stoppages – due to improper manning of the line or materials unavailability

Q – Quality – it measures line yield – percent of good boards from total production

What can you DO with this OEE?

Take the right decisions – if Availability is always an issue, because machines are always breaking down you don’t need to buy more machines to make up for lost capacity – you just need to put together a better maintenance plan and a better spare parts kits.

If you have problems with Performance, then machines are OK, but materials are not available JIT (Just In Time) or you don’t have enough people to cope with all change overs and machines stops.

Quality – IT IS IMPORTANT – nobody will pay you for scrap products or let’s say non working units and repair is hard work, require a lot of skills, is expensive and tedious. Put enough emphasis to minimize the faults – will reduce your costs.

What’s a good OEE?

I used to say 90% availability, 90% Performance, 98% Quality will give you a nice and robust target OEE= 0.9*0.9*0.98=0.7938.
If you get it and are able to maintain it then you are OK.

All placement machines are capable to spit out log files with data about when a PCBA entered a machine, when it went out and lots of info about errors on each board, each slot or each feeder. These data are an easy grab and knowing, real time your output and calculating OEE will give you the power to change things…..otherwise….you just pray for the best and  get same s**t every day. You don’t even know if people are not slowing down the line on purpose – if the Supervisor doesn’t want to tell you (of course he knows).

It is quite the same situation for TESTERS – In Circuit Testers in special – right after you’ve tested a board yo want to know your defects, top defects, machine utilization, number of retests, access a debug database for more advise…..just looking at the failure ticket given by the machine you will not get all these.

Is quite a pity that big companies like HP, Genrad, IFR made awesome test machines, but so bloody dum from data collection point of view. Log files generated are comprehensive, but all the work is left on Test ENG to figure out how to use them properly, wisely.

Just parsing all data from a HP3070 by example you could get – machine utilization, real yield and shift throughput, number of retest, top defects, SPC (Statistical Process Control) for any particular measurement you want.

Yes, I developed all these Machines Monitoring Solutions because I was sick and tired to be blind-folded and DO my job just based on subjective assumptions.

or visit our site: – Products page has a comprehensive description of our HPDCA solution developed for ICT machines real time monitoring.

All the best,
Nick – from Nick’s Software

May 2nd, 2011

Posted In: Agilent In Circuit Test, HP In Circuit Test, HP3070, ICT, IFR In Circuit Test, IFR4220, Machines Monitoring, Machines Monitoring Systems