Comment on Expected Market Changes
Despite the size of the in-circuit test market, the test houses that offer specialized programming services and implement new test requirements as turn-key projects remain small in size. This shows that many OEMs and contract manufacturers still depend on internal resources , however with decreasing size and importance.
We at the ICT Institute think that this will change over the coming years as cost pressure forces manufacturers to outsource even more to professional companies.
This requires the test houses to become even more professional. ISO 9001 will become mandatory driven by customer requirement, regulatory, and compliance requirements. At the same time the protection of know-how is ever more important for many high-tech customers. They require data security standards (e.g. TISAX for Automotive) to be fulfilled.
We still see some freelancers in the market without the possibility of remote development. This always creates conflicts with the production or quality department when necessary test equipment is blocked for the development and debugging of new applications. We think there will be increasing awareness of this issue and with the forthcoming retirement of some of these "pioneers of the test market" over the next years we do not see them replaced, also because there are not many young people moving into self-employment for that service anymore. The freelancers are also challenged by the increased complexity of the market. Some of the professional companies regularly maintain and update their standard programme libraries for many electronic components. They are therefore quicker and more professional in the realization of a new project.
The increasing professionalism has another side of the coin also. Professional test houses report that their intellectual property is occasionally violated by customers or freelancers who are not aware of that copyright. We think the market structure will enable professional test houses to prevent such contract breaches better in the future.
Overall we see the increased professional requirements as a driver for market consolidation. While we have seen fixture suppliers having been quite successful over the last decades, we now see that test software is becoming even more important in the smart factory of tomorrow. It is the main driver for customer performance and productivity, sometimes still underestimated by contract manufacturers. Turn-key projects are always managed by software companies, not by hardware (fixture) suppliers, independent of their size.
Your view is highly appreciated. Please contact us and let us know what you think about the future of testing.
We would like to draw your attention to the case study that the EMS company JOPP has published on their homepage free of charge (German language).
It provides insights into some of the aspects for contract manufactures that use the power of external ICT programming know-how.
List of In-Circuit Test Software Houses
(sorted by size in ICT software test, partially estimated)
ATi Software GmbH, Munich, Germany (Teradyne, Göpel, smart hardware extensions)
Founded in 1987 in Munich, ATi has become the hidden champion of ICT test programming for Teradyne test systems. ATi is the specialist in the combination of in-circuit test with in-system programming. The company usually delivers turn-key products to its OEM and EMS customers, sometimes in combination with boundary scan, LED test and functional test. It has become the biggest ICT test house in Europe over the last decade and is certified according to ISO 9001. It has invested in more than five Teradyne and Göpel Systems.
ATi maintains programming libraries for the most commonly used electronics components and differentiates from the competition with a quick time-to-market and a full remote support.
According to our knowledge ATi has taken over all major customers from Nuremberg-based Inspectronic GmbH, that was broken up in 2021.
TAP Automatisierte Prüftechnik GmbH & Co KG, Stuhr, Germany (SPEA, Göpel)
TAP is one of the few SPEA-approved test program suppliers and the only test house in Northern Germany after Schneider & Koch went bankrupt some time ago. Together with its sister company KTT Testengineering GmbH it can deliver turn-key projects with test fixtures made in-house. TAP has invested in three SPEA systems that enables remote development, sometimes together with functional test (via partners) and boundary scan.
The company was founded in 1997 and is certified according to ISO 9001.
Elite Interfaces Ltd, Reading, East Kilbride and Hillington, United Kingdom (Teradyne, Keysight)
Elite was founded in 1986 and emerged from the fusion and cooperation with three other companies: TSL, Blue Technology and IKON. The company has aquired the Hungarian facility of the fixture supplier Everett Charles Technologies in 2020.
Elite offers in-circuit and functional test implementations. Moreover contract test, training, and design-for-testability analysis are provided as a service to its customers.
In the last couple of years Elite expanded into electronics handling equipment like robot cells.
ATEcare Service GmbH & Co. KG, Munich, Germany (Teradyne)
ATE Care was founded by former Teradyne (Genrad) employees. The company has two locations in Germany and one in Switzerland. They focus now on the distribution of Omron inspection and Dr. Eschke MDA solutions as well as Takaya flying probe systems.
However the company still provides some service for Teradyne Systems like the refurbishment and sale of Teradyne (Genrad) systems and the implementation of test programmes as well as in-system programming.
Alfa Test SRL, Timisoara, Romania (Teradyne, Keysight)
With offices in Romania and Bulgaria Alfa Test concentrates on Central Europe and the Balkan countries. It offers a complete range of test systems for its customers in these countries and is official distribution partner for Teradyne among other test systems such as AOI, X-ray, flying probe tester and various software systems. Alfa Test offers turn-key projects with its partners as well as contract testing. The company was founded in 2002 and offers support and training as well.
Areus Engineering GmbH, Herrenberg, Germany (Keysight)
Areus Engineering offers individual solutions for AOI and in-circuit tests. Areus took over WG-Test in 2013 and merged with it in 2019. The company has a focus on Keysight systems.
proTest Adolf Diewald, Michael Neureither GbR, Grafing, Germany (Keysight, Digitaltest)
ProTest delivers turn-key projects for Digitaltest and Keysight systems. The company is based near Munich and has its own fixture workshop. It offers in-circuit test, functional test and on-board programming on its in-house test systems.
Boardtest Seeger GmbH, Ditzingen, Germany (Keysight)
Founded in 1999 Boardtest Seeger is a one-man company with affiliated partners for peak load. Despite the small size of the company the reference list is quite astonishing and contains some well-knows companies. The founder Tom Seeger has a Keysight 3070 system for remote development of the programs that are mostly delivered as turn-key solution together with the fixture. The company also operates as distribution hub in the German market for the French Design-for-Testability software house Aster.
Siren, Lanester, France (Teradyne, Keysight)
Based in North-West of France Siren is one of the few French test program developers and also one of the few European companies that offer both service for Teradyne and Keysight test systems.
The company was established in 1960 and offers in-circuit test, functional test and boundary scan implementation service. The company is official partner of JTAG in France.