Original Date: 08/20/2001
Revision Date: 12/14/2006
Best Practice : Micro Electronic Circuit Test Facilities
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems significantly decreased its testing time and costs for solid-state microwave modules by implementing fully automated, integrated test stations. The result is an extremely fast test platform that realizes minimal cycle time and high throughput on a completed device.
Previously, Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems (NE&SS-SS) used multiple, rack-and-stack test platforms to perform numerous test dynamics. This approach required a lot of floor space, long test cycle times, considerable hands-on manipulation and intervention by the operator, and high recurring and non-recurring efforts for new devices. As the micro electronic circuit (MEC) production rate increased, the company needed a new method to handle the increase in test loads. The goal was to initiate a works-in-a-drawer, radio frequency integrated circuit-based station capable of multiple path, dynamic, and versatile specification testing with high speed on a single, two-port platform.
In 1991, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS implemented a fully automated test station which reduced the average test time from eight hours to ten minutes per transmit/receive (T/R) module. In 1998, the test set was upgraded by using radio frequency integrated circuit components, which lowered the average test time to one minute per T/R module. Today, the MEC Test Facilities employ fully automated testing of various types of solid-state microwave modules on a single platform. All test stations are housed in radio frequency-shielded rooms, and are equipped with a probe station for on-circuit troubleshooting. The integrated test stations are fast, flexible, and can test approximately 1,500 parameters in four fundamental T/R areas: noise figure; transient power; receiver gain; and differential phase.
Each integrated test station costs approximately $1 million. However, the savings in operator work hours recouped the cost of the station on the first project and, since then, the stations have been used on several projects. Additional benefits of the integrated test stations include reduced floor space requirements, wide dynamic range in frequency and power, and increased flexibility through software controlled test operations. Scheduled improvements to the MEC Test Facilities include increased flexibility and more user-friendly software, with a goal of greatly reducing the Facilities’ research and development cycle time in support of new business proposals.
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