Jack Rozwat is the General Manager for the Latin America Region at Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurements Group; he is responsible for all sales, support, and field operations activities in the Latin America region for Agilent’s Electronic Measurement Group. Mr Rozwat has over 25 years of experience in the test and measurement industry in a variety of sales, marketing, global account management, and senior field management positions. Jack Rozwat holds a BSEE from Purdue University and a MBA from the University of Chicago.
LXI-compatible instruments can feed data to WebPages on any standard browser; you just need a PC and an Internet connection to monitor LXI test instruments anywhere. LXI-based systems provide an incredibly powerful, easily accessible, tool for troubleshooting and monitoring problems in a test system. With LXI, for example, manufacturing sites in Latin America can be monitored by authorized experts anywhere in the world to help equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies or R&D teams meet their targets.
Life in a global company has some big pluses and big minuses. For those who haven’t done it, international travel may seem like one of the big pluses. What’s not to like? Well, a lot, actually. Trips that take 30 hours door-to-door are common. Sitting on a jetliner for ten hours at a stretch is mind-numbing at best. International travel has been a challenging fact of life for some test engineers who are responsible for contract or offshore production lines. Whenever things aren’t running correctly and can’t be diagnosed from afar, a visit is usually a must. The ‘Wouldn’t it be nice?’ fantasy solution has been to log in remotely and monitor the system from a PC in the engineer’s own office. From fantasy to reality In electronic test equipment the LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation (LXI) connectivity standard is transforming, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice?’ into, ‘What are you waiting for?’ This isn’t a glorified version of the Windows remote desktop capability that simply shows what’s on the screen of the remote test system. All LXI-compatible instruments can serve a webpage, and most provide browser-based monitoring of what’s going on inside, even during program execution (Figure 1). All it takes is a PC equipped with a standard Web browser - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc. - and a LAN connection. At first glance this may not seem like a technological ‘breakthrough.’ However, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for troubleshooting and monitoring problems in a test system, and it is accessible through a company’s intranet, or any other available access path that feeds into a contract manufacturer’s test network. Taking a closer look -without traveling When the phone rings at 3:00 a.m. because the system has stopped running - again - taking a closer look is a simple matter of logging in remotely. Of course, it will probably require a ‘remote desktop’ or ‘remote person’ to control and monitor the overseas computer. Even so, with an LXI instrument-based test system the individual instrument WebPages will provide useful clues about what is or isn’t happening across town, across the continent or across an ocean. Being able to do this while the test program is running provides a new level of insight that isn’t available with previous-generation system architectures and connectivity standards. If someone at the remote site has accidentally turned off an instrument, it becomes immediately obvious: The instrument’s webpage won’t load in the browser window. The remote engineer can still pull up any pages that will load, sort out what’s happening, and describe how to fix the problem. It’s an approach that’s much easier on the travel budget. Connecting manufacturing operations Often in Latin America, manufacturing sites are clustered into regions, sometimes to align with regional or local government incentives, or to fit into the supply chain. In Brazil, the two main regions of printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturing are in Manaus and Sao Paulo; in Mexico, they are spread across cities such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, Nogales, Juarez and Reynosa. Across Latin America, most manufacturing organizations are looking for new and better ways to optimize test coverage, minimize cycle time and increase yields. The connectivity and connectedness - of people and test systems - made possible by LXI-based test systems can help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies achieve these goals across and between sites. Improving competitiveness The easy LAN connectivity enabled by LXI can have a profound, positive impact on OEM and EMS companies. First, they save money on the connectivity infrastructure because a LAN-based test system is much less costly to implement than proprietary instrumentation standards. Second, standard services and easy-to-use utilities save time, making it faster and easier to assemble and configure a system. Finally, the wide reach of LAN allows distributed systems as well as remote system control and monitoring. The net effect: manufacturers have greater flexibility regarding where to locate test systems, system host computers and remote PCs. It even enables remote test system monitoring so a distributed team with, for example, members in Latin America, Japan and the United States could all use and monitor the same test system. If necessary, an application specialist from the equipment vendor could also be given the necessary permissions to log in and help troubleshoot especially difficult situations. With these benefits and the growing availability of LXI-compatible equipment (Figure 2), LXI is becoming increasingly popular in the development of automatic test systems for manufacturing applications. This is especially true in the automotive and telecommunication industries in Latin America: LXI is helping reduce development cost and improve test system performance and, ultimately, is enabling the creation of cost-effective electronic components, devices and products. It also opens the door to more effective testing of automotive components such as tracking systems, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and air bags. Enabling wider collaboration As the electronics, telecom and automotive industries continue to grow and evolve in Latin America, so must the participants - and so must the tools they use. In electronic test systems, LXI helps enable collaboration on a local, regional and global basis. Using LXI and other Web technologies, system developers can more easily collaborate with their counterparts within Latin America and around the world. These benefits also extend to research-and-development teams - engineers and scientists - who can easily view and share real-time measurement data with their colleagues, near and far. This allows developers in Latin America to achieve greater visibility in other regions and enhances their ability to contribute on large research projects.