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Purposes of vibration testing

The primary purpose of vibration testing is to accurately produce, in a laboratory setting, real-world vibration environments for a large number of structures, devices and products; and to precisely duplicate any particular vibration test any number of times.

Accomplishing this basic purpose accomplishes a number of very important goals:

  • Improve the quality, reliability, and lifetime of a product.
  • Improve customer satisfaction, which enhances the manufacturer’s reputation, sales, and market share.
  • Reduce per-product testing time (and consequently cost).

In support of this statement, it has been found that vibration testing finds as many errors as does heat-testing (still the most commonly used environmental test parameter) but does so in 20% or less of the time to conduct a comparable heat test.

  • Product testing performed at the manufacturer’s factory allows problems to be identified at a time where they can be corrected most efficiently and at a lower cost. In particular, factory testing and fault detection greatly reduce the number of warranty repairs, often a costly overhead burden.

Further purposes are specific to the type of testing involved: prototype test, production test, and product health monitoring.

  • Prototype testing. Error detection in prototype units of a product allows early correction of design and material problems, and the quick verification of design or material changes intended to eliminate the problem. This procedure can greatly reduce the time-to-market of a new product. For products that are packaged before being shipped from the factory; prototype testing of package designs (called package testing) can provide information leading to an effective trade-off between optimum package design and cost. Also changes to the product to make it more robust and better able to withstand shipment without transportation damage.
  • Production testing. Product testing on the production line prior to packaging and shipping allows continuous monitoring of the performance of components and sub-assemblies of the product, and of the manufacturing process itself. In this way deficiencies in components and in the manufacturing and assembly process are detected at a point where they can be detected and corrected with minimum cost and time. As noted above, this can greatly reduce the expense of warranty repairs.
  • Product health monitoring. Periodic testing of an installed product and archival of test results can detect early changes in product performance. These changes are often the first sign of normal mechanical wear, or of damage to the product like crack propagation. Such early problem detection allows timely scheduling of product maintenance, and especially can avoid unscheduled down-time and catastrophic failure.