QA, QC & Testing

Maintainability

Many products and services require regular maintenance to ensure that they can carry on working effectively. The ability to maintain a product requires testing to check whether this is indeed possible.

All car manufacturers stipulate service intervals for their vehicles. These service intervals help to prolong the life of the vehicle and ensure that it operates as required. Vehicles that are not serviced regularly start to lose their fuel efficiency and worse still, this can cause engine components to fail prematurely.

The design of the engines needs to include features that allow easy maintainability. If the engine needs an oil change then features must be designed for engine that allow this to be completed quickly. If it takes two hours to change the oil because the engine needs to be unbolted from the chassis and pulled out, then the vehicle's maintainability is poor.

If the vehicle engine has been designed with a drain plug at the bottom of the engine which can be easily released, allowing the oil to easily drain out of the engine, then it becomes easier to change the engines oil which in turn makes the engine more maintainable.

Maintainability tests ensure that the product can be serviced and/or overhauled effectively.

Likewise commercial airplanes require maintenance after a certain period of flight. Whilst the plane is sitting on the ground it is effectively making no income for the airline, therefore it is vitally important that the plane can be overhauled as quickly and as safely as possible.

Maintainability testing can highlight the best course of action to take during the overhaul. Cutting down on unnecessary time which ultimately costs the airline potential revenue.

Configuration

Many products and services come with the ability to be configured in many different ways. Configuration testing involves checking multiple configurations available and evaluating whether the different configurations work as required. It would be foolhardy to simply test one configuration and then assume that the product could work in all its other configurations.

Typically many of today's car manufacturers offer their vehicles in many different models. Each of which is a different configuration of the base model. So there may be a saloon as a base model, a hatchback, an open top and an estate version.

The manufacturer will test each of these configurations to ensure that they meet the common objectives highlighted in the requirements.

Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV) (also known as a minivan, minibus, people carrier or multi utility vehicle) have ingenious seating arrangements. Allowing the carriage of additional passengers above the normal five passengers.

The seating arrangement can be changed, however as part of a configuration testing approach. The MPV's various seat configurations need to be tested to see whether they actually work as expected and/or whether they can be used as expected.

There's no point in building a seven seater vehicle, when it's very difficult for the passengers to clamber into the rear most seats. Under a configuration test, not only would the seven seat set up be tested but the access to this configuration would also need to be assessed.

Configuration testing determines whether products or services with multiple configurations work in each of their configurations.

Manufacturers that sell food products may also have to conduct configuration testing. A margarine manufacturer not only needs to test whether their product is safe and effective to use as a spread. But whether it can be used in other configurations, such as

 • to fry with

 • to baste with

 • to mix with (in cakes for example)

These other configurations of margarine may not be acceptable and the manufacturer can therefore highlight this on their packaging. Not only does this provide an indication to the customer on the uses of the margarine but also protects the manufacturer if the margarine is not used within highlighted guidelines.

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