The Difference Between Verification and Validation Testing of Electronic Systems

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

And how they lead to happier clients


Testing has always been and will always be an integral part of the new product development process. It is indeed a crucial phase all software and electrical engineering teams must go through in order to ensure that the process’s main objective, to deliver a product which the client will want to buy and buy again, is achieved. Neglecting the amount of energy devoted to testing throughout the product’s life cycle will inevitably lead to negative impacts, ranging from annoyances to full denial of purchase by the client. As a result it is imperative to implicate the team’s test resources as early as possible in the design phase to maximize and leverage its effects on the product’s quality.

Two different approaches to testing are necessary in order to successfully deliver quality products and keep the client fully satisfied. These approaches are verification and validation.


Validation

Validation tests the product’s specifications, as well as the finished product itself, against the client requirements. It ensures the product is designed to meet the client’s needs. It also acts as the feedback necessary to iterate product versions converging to a version which fully meets the internal and client requirements.

The validation tests activities are performed by both the designing entity and the client.


Internal Acceptance Testing

To the best of its abilities, the designing entity validates that the product will meet the client’s requirements by putting itself in the client’s place.


Client Acceptance Testing

Upon delivery of the product, the client validates that the product meets its requirements. This can range from plugging in a television and verifying that you can change the channel to very complex pre-approved validation testing at the client site.


Verification

Verification tests the product’s design against its specifications. It ensures that the design and every unit produced meet their specifications and that they can be delivered to its intended user.

Typical verification testing activities for electronic products include unit testing and integration testing.


Unit Testing

Unit testing is more commonly thought of as a method of software testing, where a module or function is tested using many different input types and values to verify its outputs.


The same applies to hardware testing. For example, a power-supply-module unit test would consist in feeding different input signals iterating on voltage, ripple and stability parameters, all while verifying the power supply outputs at different points. The power supply could fail and fall short of its specifications due to a routing issue (i.e. trace too long), a missing or mis-sized component (i.e. capacitor) or other design issues.


Integration Testing

Integration testing consists in the verification of the whole system. It tests the integration of the software (remote, host and embedded), the different electronic components and the mechanical enclosure and how they perform together against the system’s specifications.


These activities can be split into two modes of testing, design verification and production line verification:


Unit Testing -for- Electronic Design Verification

  • Typically performed by R&D engineers.

  • Performed on 3 or more electronic cards every hardware revision.

  • Each of the interfaces and sub-systems of the individual electronic cards composing the system are tested to verify that the design implementation meets the chosen components specifications.

Example of a test: Verification of rise times, frequency and jitter on every data, address and clock pins of a memory chip, ensuring that the memory circuit design performs to specifications.


Unit Testing -for- Production Line Verification

  • Typically performed by assemblers-testers or production technicians

  • Performed on all assembled electronic cards on the production line

  • The production line test plan is typically a subset on the Electronic Design Verification’s one.

  • Each of the interfaces and sub-systems of the electronic cards are verified to ensure that all components are properly assembled.

Example of a test: Verification of memory functionality by the execution of writes and reads, ensuring that the memory is correctly assembled on the electronic card.


Integration Testing -for- System Design Verification

  • Typically performed by R&D engineers.

  • Performed on 3 or more assembled systems every product revision

  • The fully assembled system, with delivery software or firmware installed, is tested to verify that every one of its interfaces perform to the stated specifications of the product.

Example of a test: Verification that the product’s transmitter meets the industry standards for its class in all environments and usage modes.


Integration Testing -for- Production Line Verification

  • Typically performed by assemblers-testers or production technicians

  • Performed on all assembled systems on the production line

  • The production line integration test plan is typically a subset on the Product Design Verification’s one.

  • The integration test typically includes the installation of the delivery software or firmware

  • Each of the product’s interfaces are tested to ensure that the system parts are properly assembled and the software successfully deployed.

Example of a test: Verification that the product’s transmitter is functional, cables and connectors are properly assembled and that it transmits at nominal power.


Verification and validation

Verification and validation go hand in hand to ensure the design and delivery of a great product.

  • If it is proven (by validation) that the specifications have created a product that meets the client requirements and needs,

  • And if it is proven (by electronic/system design verification) that the design and a correctly assembled system meet the specifications,

  • And if it is proven (by electronic/system production line verification) that every produced unit is correctly assembled,

  • Then it means that each delivered unit will meet the client requirements and needs

  • And that the only test, gating delivery of each unit, is the production line verification.


A common characteristic of all these testing activities is that they can be automated to gain efficiency and repeatability, and thus to the delivery of better products faster. At Tack, our expertise lies in the automation of such tests.


If you would like to discuss in more details on the nature of verification and validation testing, or if you would like to enquire about our services or our expertise, please leave us a message at info@tackv.ca

Tack Verification enables intelligence for electronics-manufacturing companies.

Our aim is to facilitate access and understanding of the production line information by all stakeholders, leading to increased velocity and reduced costs linked to quality control and operations optimization.

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