This post is by Chris Stone, Environmental Test Manager at TRaC.
When engineers ask me why companies bother with shock and vibration testing, there are three main reasons that I always cite: reliability; functionality and structural integrity.
You want the equipment to be reliable, to continue to function correctly and – to put it bluntly – you don’t want it to fall apart.
Even equipment that is permanently fixed in one place needs to withstand vibration during its lifecycle. In fact, there are four specific stages in the lifecycle of a product when it might have to withstand vibration:
- Assembly: whilst the equipment is being manufactured, circuit boards and other components are often subject to shock and vibration – for example when a PCB is being put into its housing and may be dropped on the assembly bench
- Packaged transportation: when the equipment is being transported, must withstand vibration, shocks and drops. For some types of equipment – e.g. telecoms systems – packaged transportation is the time when the equipment is subjected to the greatest mechanical stresses.
- Installation: equipment that must be installed needs to withstand manual handling
- Service environment: the environment in which the equipment must operate. The challenges can range from track vibrations and the shock of shunting in rail applications, engine and gearbox induced vibration on road vehicles and aircraft, as well as the need to survive handling and drops in the case of portable consumer electronics.