What electronic test equipment do respondents typically use? Topping the
list were multimeters (77%), voltmeters (73%), data acquisition (72%)
and oscilloscopes (51%). About 34% of the respondents note use of their
electronic test equipment for general use. Applications in electronic circuit
testing (27%), communications (17%) and biotechnology (17%) followed.
However, typical electronic test equipment can be used in other applications
like aerospace, automotive, computer testing, energy generation, mechanical
systems, medical devices, physical systems and semiconductors.
Of our respondents, the majority (25%) use Agilent Technologies’
electronic test instrumentation, followed closely by Tektronix (24%) and
National Instruments (19%). Other smaller companies were also represented such as Keithley Instruments, LeCroy, Oscium, Rigol, Pico Technology, Teradyne, Yokogawa and Fluke. Over the past three years, 54%
of the respondents noted no change to use of electronic test equipment
in their laboratories, while 36% saw an increase of use. Only 10% cited a
decrease, mainly for issues related to cost and staff cutbacks.
What are the important trends respondents have seen in this equipment in the past three years? The top answer is better software options
(51%). Other trends that users found important are higher processing
power (43%), a decrease in cost (38%), Wi-Fi/wireless connection (37%)
and advanced analysis (37%). Some respondents also noted speed and
efficiency increases (35%) and increased sampling rate (34%). As newer
systems begin to cost less, they are also beginning to include convenient
features such as touchscreen controls, in part due to higher internal processing power. Advances in hardware and software have brought on cost
reduction and have increased throughput of these instruments. This new
equipment is cited as better by respondents, and can do more, faster, to
resolve electronic problems.
With the improvements noted, what do respondents want to see
improve in the next three years? While cost has already decreased, 73%
of respondents still want to see cost reductions in the technology. More
and better software options continue to be on the wish list of 40% of the
respondents, while more wireless connection is wanted by 32%. These
statistics show the rapid changes in the electronics industry that the
equipment must keep pace with, along with the shorter design and devel-
opment cycles users face. This also reflects the trend of younger electrical
engineers entering companies and laboratories after
college who are better at operating consumer electronics
such as iPhones with touchscreen displays.
Where do our readers see the most growth in electronic test
instrumentation in the next three years? Many users stated their requests
for multi-functional instruments with better and faster interfaces and better software integration. They want an all-in-one instrument that is capable of multiple functions. A reduction in size, according to respondents,
would also be an added bonus. Remote operation, according to some
respondents, was also of importance.
Other respondents are looking forward to instrument releases with
user-configurable FPGA options for data processing and reduction right
at the source. Others see the most growth in software for the embedded
controllers that drive these systems, while others note embedded wireless connection in ICP sensors that is capable of transmitting continous
analog sensor output.
Model 2657A High Power
SMU Instrument, a 2013
R&D 100 Award winner.
Most Important Trends Observed in Electronic Test Equiment
Advanced analysis 37%
Better software options 51%
Cost decrease 38%
Cost increase 11%
Deeper memory 20%
FPGA/DSP advances 7%
Greater frequency/resolution 31%
Higher processing power 43%
Increased sampling rate 34%
Intuitive controls/touchscreens 25%
Speed/efficiency increases 35%
Wi-Fi/wireless connection 37%
Source: R&D Magazine Reader Survey