Author Topic: Professional Lab Requirements?  (Read 1641 times)

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Offline Demz

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Professional Lab Requirements?
« on: June 29, 2022, 06:45:18 am »
Hi!

I am a fresh graduate with electrical and instrument engineering degree.
recently, I got hired as a Technical Laboratory staff in a company focusing on banking equipment and basically any machine related to counting and sorting money.

Funny thing is, this division is still new, and sadly this fresh graduate guy with close to zero experience is the very first employee in this division.

Since the division is still new, I got appointed to choose any tools and equipment which will be used in the lab. Sounds exciting but the problem is, the only electrical lab I've ever been to was my university's lab, which using mid-end if not low-end equipment while my boss demanding a high-end equipment to be in our new lab. And.... those kinds of products are not yet listed in my book.

So, our new lab would be doing something like :
  • PCB Troubleshooting and PCB repairing
  • Component quality testing (to test the quality of a components like resistor, diode, etc)
  • Component durability testing

I need a recommendation about what equipment do I need, and which product/brand you guys think are the best.(it's okay if the product is expensive)

Thanks for any of you who are willing to help.
Have a good day!
 

Offline Demz

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2022, 07:02:26 am »
to put more information : I have made my equipment list such as Variable DC power supply, Oscilloscope, AFG, etc. but i have no idea which brands or products are considered "the best."
 

Offline Berni

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2022, 07:11:14 am »
Well looks like they employed the wrong person for the job. This is indeed something that should be done by someone with experience.

But you can take a good guess at all the basic equipment that any electronics lab should have. You need soldering irons (Weller, Ersa, JBC..etc) and a hot air station (Chinese fan in handle ones are good enugh). Basic optical microscope also comes in handy (No need for fancy vission engineering Mantis stuff, cheep ones are time. Needs large working distance and a camera also comes in handy for documenting stuff). There are also the generic tools like tweezers, sidecutters, screwdrivers.. etc

When it comes to test equipment you definitely need an oscilloscope (Basic known brand scope is typically fine, buy 2nd higher performance one if needed). Modern bench multimeters (6.5 digit) and PSUs (2 to 4 channels each) with remote control capability are a good idea.

When it comes to testing you might also want a suite of environmental test equipment. Like a thermal chamber that can cycle your product trough various ambient conditions. Thermometers and a thermal camera to make sure parts don't exceed specifications thermally.

You also want to look into getting a good stable bench with good lightning, dedicate a wall of the lab towards storage by giving it a rack of shelves and get a bunch of plastic boxes to sort things into.

When it comes to buying equipment it is usually a good idea to buy a cheep product from an expensive brand. In most cases you never need the performance that high end test gear offers. The cheap cost optimized gear is usually good enough and big brand name manufacturers won't dare to produce a crap product even if it is meant to be low cost.

Just leave a good deal of the lab budget for later on to use up over the next year or two. Then use the budget to buy whatever you find useful as you work. Labs evolve towards the direction of work they do.
 
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Offline Faringdon

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2022, 08:39:15 am »
Get yourself a fan to blow solder smoke away....especially when using flux.

It depends what type of PCBs and circuits you are probing.

As a minimum..........
DMM
Fine tweezers for SMD soldering
Loupe eye glass.
I actually always have those croc-clip wires as they are so quick to connect stuff up with....one foot of wire, with a croc clip on either end.
7/0.2mm wire to hook stuff up with
kynar wire and kynar stripper for wiring to small components to probe them
Very sharp pair of sidecutters which you only use to strip wire with (but dont worry, people will come and  unfortunately blunt them for you by cutting heavy wire with them)
Big pair of sidecutters to cut heavy wire with.
ESD mat, wrist strap, ESD plug...ESD footstrap.
Low voltage adjustable  DC power supply with settable current limit (so you can power up into shorts)

Scope but wait to find what  the  ccts are first.....but even so, a cheapo 40MHz scope would be good to have around. (pref with USB so you can easily traNSfer scope shots to PC)
Beware scope rise time capability of seeing is 0.35/BW...And remember if you do sample/hold on a long time frame , then the Memory depth matters...(more the better)
Dave Jones of this website has good scope chooser vids

Thermal camera with "Dynamic hottest point hold"....these are priceless for spotting short circuits...and seeing how hot stuff gets....beware emissivity, and reflected heat.
...Must have "dynamic hottest point hold", otherwise you cant hold your hand still enough to fix on the hottest place.

I expect you'll know the rest to order when you get given a job and realise you need the relevant tools.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2022, 08:48:15 am by Faringdon »
 
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Online ledtester

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2022, 09:00:15 am »
First question: what's your budget?
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2022, 03:06:44 pm »
Temperature test chamber?

http://www.sunelectronics.com/Temperature-Test-Chamber-EC11A-Model.html

The link is just 'for instance', I don't have such a thing and I'm in no position to recommend one over another.  ATMs are exposed to the environment on at least one surface and sometimes it gets cold outside.
 

Offline Demz

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2022, 01:48:16 am »
Well looks like they employed the wrong person for the job. This is indeed something that should be done by someone with experience.

But you can take a good guess at all the basic equipment that any electronics lab should have. You need soldering irons (Weller, Ersa, JBC..etc) and a hot air station (Chinese fan in handle ones are good enugh). Basic optical microscope also comes in handy (No need for fancy vission engineering Mantis stuff, cheep ones are time. Needs large working distance and a camera also comes in handy for documenting stuff). There are also the generic tools like tweezers, sidecutters, screwdrivers.. etc

When it comes to test equipment you definitely need an oscilloscope (Basic known brand scope is typically fine, buy 2nd higher performance one if needed). Modern bench multimeters (6.5 digit) and PSUs (2 to 4 channels each) with remote control capability are a good idea.

When it comes to testing you might also want a suite of environmental test equipment. Like a thermal chamber that can cycle your product trough various ambient conditions. Thermometers and a thermal camera to make sure parts don't exceed specifications thermally.

You also want to look into getting a good stable bench with good lightning, dedicate a wall of the lab towards storage by giving it a rack of shelves and get a bunch of plastic boxes to sort things into.

When it comes to buying equipment it is usually a good idea to buy a cheep product from an expensive brand. In most cases you never need the performance that high end test gear offers. The cheap cost optimized gear is usually good enough and big brand name manufacturers won't dare to produce a crap product even if it is meant to be low cost.

Just leave a good deal of the lab budget for later on to use up over the next year or two. Then use the budget to buy whatever you find useful as you work. Labs evolve towards the direction of work they do.

Indeed they're assigned the wrong person to do the job. Haha. But I'll manage.

Thankyou for the very insightful response. Have a good day.
 

Offline Demz

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2022, 02:01:01 am »
Get yourself a fan to blow solder smoke away....especially when using flux.

It depends what type of PCBs and circuits you are probing.

As a minimum..........
DMM
Fine tweezers for SMD soldering
Loupe eye glass.
I actually always have those croc-clip wires as they are so quick to connect stuff up with....one foot of wire, with a croc clip on either end.
7/0.2mm wire to hook stuff up with
kynar wire and kynar stripper for wiring to small components to probe them
Very sharp pair of sidecutters which you only use to strip wire with (but dont worry, people will come and  unfortunately blunt them for you by cutting heavy wire with them)
Big pair of sidecutters to cut heavy wire with.
ESD mat, wrist strap, ESD plug...ESD footstrap.
Low voltage adjustable  DC power supply with settable current limit (so you can power up into shorts)

Scope but wait to find what  the  ccts are first.....but even so, a cheapo 40MHz scope would be good to have around. (pref with USB so you can easily traNSfer scope shots to PC)
Beware scope rise time capability of seeing is 0.35/BW...And remember if you do sample/hold on a long time frame , then the Memory depth matters...(more the better)
Dave Jones of this website has good scope chooser vids

Thermal camera with "Dynamic hottest point hold"....these are priceless for spotting short circuits...and seeing how hot stuff gets....beware emissivity, and reflected heat.
...Must have "dynamic hottest point hold", otherwise you cant hold your hand still enough to fix on the hottest place.

I expect you'll know the rest to order when you get given a job and realise you need the relevant tools.

We were mostly going to deal with small SMD pcb. the biggest one i saw so far was like 8x8 inch.
thankyou for your response. very helpful. I'll do highly considering the thermal camera.
 

Offline Demz

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2022, 02:17:47 am »
First question: what's your budget?


To be honest. I don't really know. The owner of the company just said to me "it's okay if we have to make rather big investment for the lab."
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2022, 02:39:12 am »
This sounds like management is completely incompetent. How can you outfit a lab if you don't know the budget and don't know what sort of work you'll be doing? You could spend anywhere from $1,000 to millions depending on what you get.
 
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Offline all_repair

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2022, 05:03:10 am »
Very likely your lab shall not need to repair PCB.  Mostly to test and verify problem.  Simple disassembly and assembly to remove dirt or stuck items, cleaning and lubrication. 
A deeper level if you have the spare is to replace mechanical parts and PCB.  Most failure shall not be electronics related.  You should load up on the mechanical tools first, and go throught the fault history and derive the requirement.
 

Offline Berni

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2022, 05:09:57 am »
Yeah the management most likely has no idea what they need. They just know they want to work on electronics.

Id say it is best to start with the basics, see what sort of work comes trough the lab in the coming year and just buy equipment along the way as you need it. Eventually after a year or two you will end up with most of the relevant equipment you need. In most cases fancy expensive high end equipment is not required.

Main thing is to make sure that you have a budget going forward to expand the lab as required. You will most certainly not be able to throw together 100% of what you will need in one week. Main thing is that you get the basics down, you can look at photos of peoples home or work labs to get ideas.
 

Offline Demz

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2022, 06:26:39 am »
Second question are you repairing, testing, designing, programming or building equipment? Are the products already built in house?

Most banking equipment is repaired under maintenance contracts with service agents so might help to be specific on what the role of the lab is and the extent of your responsibility.

Note also in some industries like security, banking and aviation there are standards. For instance if working on consumer goods PAT testing may be required for safety. Others may require calibration or the lab be ISO certified etc. If you are working on another manufacturers equipment there may be specific requirements or they may have their own tools to program or configure their products. They also may be able to provide advice on testing and equipment setup.

I do PCB level repairing and component level testing. So, I have to do component testing to know which brand/manufacturer has the best component accuracy and durability. Therefore whenever there's a broken PCB need a component swap, I already know which brand/manufacturer my replacement component should come from.
 

Offline bd139

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2022, 06:34:28 am »
I do most of that with a DMM. It’s usually safe to assume that replacement parts will perform as per specification if you buy them from a respectable distributor.
 
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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2022, 08:50:53 am »
Whatever you do, don't go out and just spend a whole load of money on shiny boxes; it's a guaranteed way to end up with a bunch of kit that will end up in 'new, unused' condition on Ebay in 10 years' time, when you're clearing out the lab and wondering why on earth you ever bought <thing> that looked cool and seemed like a good idea, but which you've never actually used.

Right now, you don't have a specific job to do, so you cannot possibly know what tool(s) will be needed to do that job.

That said, if you have a lab to equip, start with some sturdy, spacious lab benches and flooring with proper ESD grounding throughout. Install plenty of mains outlets. Make sure you have enough good quality, comfortable, ESD safe seating for everyone who will work there; don't ever neglect ergonomics. Put up a whiteboard, and commit to ensuring it will never be the case that all the pens have dried out.

Then, consider who will work in the lab. Do you buy a communal set of hand tools, or a set for each individual person? Think about what the lab will be like to work in this time next year., given what you know about yourself and your colleagues. Will the tweezers all be bent, the soldering tips oxidised, and the hex key set missing a couple of common sizes yet again? Or can you be sure that everyone who uses the same set of tools as you will look after them as though they were their own? Think about lockable storage and tool boxes; good quality tools that are always where you expect to find them, and which haven't ever been abused, are absolutely essential.

Finally, buy the tools you actually need, as and when you need them. You may never need a signal generator, but may find a good use for half a dozen logging multimeters. You may not ever go a week without using an impedance analyser or thermal chamber. Proper crimp tooling for the connectors you commonly use may be worth its weight in gold. Meanwhile, that 2 GHz scope that the bean counters said it was OK to buy ends up getting used once a month, with the 20MHz bandwidth limiter switched on.
 
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Offline Faringdon

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2022, 10:03:02 am »
Did anybody mention Blu-Tak...Seriously, i never work without it.....you can use it to kind of batten down work without needing a custom test jig.......soldering  two wire ends together...push one into blu-tak near the end and it holds  still for you..your third hand.......Desoldering a component off a PCB and the pcb keeps sliding about while youre doing it.....push the corner of pcb into a knob of blu-tak and it holds still for you....tinnign a wire end........hold the wire in a lump of blutak and it stays still while you tin it...again a third hand.......need a PCB to stand on its side while you power it so you can get your test wires in and out and it keeps falling over.....fix it in place with bits of blu-tak.......Two PCBs getting powered next to each other and risk of snagging the wires so the pcbs touch each other and blow up...use a bit of blu tak to keep them apart.....etc etc etc

The best blu-tak work jig i made was one which held a pcb upside down so that you could desolder a 10 pin transformer...it used quite a few very large , shaped lumps of blu-tak.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2022, 11:48:36 am by Faringdon »
 
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Offline bd139

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2022, 10:14:28 am »
Only problem with that stuff is it smells bloody awful when you burn it with a soldering iron  :-DD
 
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Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2022, 10:37:26 am »
Quite a few years ago Dave made a few video's about setting up a home lab (for different budgets) and he lists all sorts of categories in those video's. Have pen and paper ready! A "professional" lab is pretty much the same, except for budget and specialized equipment. Don't forget the small stuff such as pliers, knives, tweezers, ESD equipment, etc.

 
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Offline Faringdon

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2022, 11:47:00 am »
...a  cheap ( <£5 ) set of jewellery screw drivers...the smallest one in the set is great for scraping off solder resist so that you can solder a test lead to pcb copper!
..and when you do this....you dab the pcb with blu-tak to remove the "dust" that remains on the pcb after scraping...

Also, sticky labels, or string tied labels, so that when you remove D21, R4, C76 from a particular test PCB, you can see straight away that thats been done when you come back to it. Maybe even sticky red dots to stick on those PCBs that have smoked and no longer work.

Also, ESD bags to carry PCBs about with......ive been places where everybody is esd strapped while working on the bench...then they remove wrist strap and carry the PCB over a nylon carpet!!!...and theres FETs on the PCB , and CMOS chips.!

Also, discharge resistors with croc clips either end...so you dont zap yourself on those HV charged caps
« Last Edit: June 30, 2022, 12:06:08 pm by Faringdon »
 
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Offline Bud

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2022, 03:58:22 pm »
Keep in mind many banking equipment will have resin potted encapsulated boards, so nothing can be done to repair.
Facebook-free life and Rigol-free shack.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2022, 04:48:58 pm »
Keep in mind many banking equipment will have resin potted encapsulated boards, so nothing can be done to repair.

I guess I didn't get the memo, I've repaired quite a few encapsulated devices. It does make the job a bit more tedious though.
 

Online tooki

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2022, 10:33:20 pm »
Honestly, tell the boss that until you’ve gotten actual jobs, you can’t know what equipment you will and won’t need, so that rather than blowing a bunch of their money now on things that could end up irrelevant (and then still needing to buy specialized stuff later on), that you’d prefer to buy less now in exchange for the liberty to buy what you actually need, when you need it. It’s a much more responsible way to spend money.
 
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Offline wizard69

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2022, 03:42:43 am »
Hi!

I am a fresh graduate with electrical and instrument engineering degree.
congradulations!
Quote
recently, I got hired as a Technical Laboratory staff in a company focusing on banking equipment and basically any machine related to counting and sorting money.
That is not extremely specific.    A lot of banking equipment of that type can be very mechanical thus much more of your time is spent on mechanical repairs than electronic.   So you really need to know what you will be doing here, if it is repair it might be more mechanical than you think.   If the company is involved n the development and sale of new hardware to middle men you could have a completely different focus.

As an aside I worked for years with a guy that spent considerable time in another job working for a major supplier of safes and other hardware, to banks.   Literally a safe cracker, some of the stories about how a safe got locked up without a key or combination where pretty funny at the time.   In any event beyond his other duties fixing banking hardware he had to break into a large number of safes.   So maybe you will be developing a skill that will be useful in the near future when society collapses.   
Quote

Funny thing is, this division is still new, and sadly this fresh graduate guy with close to zero experience is the very first employee in this division.
That sucks!   Let me give you a bit of advice here, managers often have no idea what is involved in the job they hired you for.   I've been though this myself so hopefully you will not get caught off guard.   You can literally sit down with management in several meetings trying to define your job and not trying to look stupid they will approve equipment purchases not know anything at all about your job or what they really want from you.   This can lead you to buy hardware that you might not need, never have time to use, or later have management tell you that they don't want you to be doing "that".   Very frustrating to say the least.

So given this as a fact of life, I'd keep my focus on core tools required for electrical mechanical repair.   Explain to the boss that your job is ill defined and that you will do basic lab fill out but need time to determine more expensive / specific equipment needs.   Do try to determine what management expectations are for the company and its focus.   Again some of the stuff associated with banking is very mechanical or just plan heavy.
Quote

Since the division is still new, I got appointed to choose any tools and equipment which will be used in the lab. Sounds exciting but the problem is, the only electrical lab I've ever been to was my university's lab, which using mid-end if not low-end equipment while my boss demanding a high-end equipment to be in our new lab. And.... those kinds of products are not yet listed in my book.
This is actually fantastic.   Basically you can choose what ever you want and build up a lab focused on the needs of whatever you will actually be doing.   Don't knock this responsibility, you will seldom get such freedom in a new job at any age.

Now looking at this from a different angle than some here, I'm going to make some suggestions that you might not have thought about.   So lets start by assuming you are starting out with an empty room.   In other words you have a room filled with air that must be turned into a work shop of some sort, here e go:
  • You will need access to either a loading dock or set of doors that allows fork lift unloading of deliveries and shipments.   It is surprising how heave a pallet full of barcode printers can be.   In any event the ability to receive and ship is significant for a business.   You may or may not need a forklift but that could very well come out of somebody else's budget.   If the fork lift is not needed you still need heavy materials handling abilities.   Often this sort of thing is handled by another department but you need to know if the facility you will be working out of, is even capable of handling truck deliveries or shipments.
  • In the lab you need to be aggressive about lighting.   in this case we are talking about the ceiling lighting which needs to be good and bright.   Since this would be the highest stuff in the room it gets you ready for the item below.
  • A solution for heavy lifting should be considered now if you will have the need.   We still don't know exactly what you are doing but the potential to have heavy stuff in the banking world is real.   Thus you need a way to handle all of that mass.   There are actually a lot of options here so do a bit of research.
  • Compressed air.   Again his may be a facilities offering or it may be something you need to supply yourself.   I mention this because some of the better desoldering stations need compressed air.   I can't see you needing a lot of air capacity but it is nice to have the room plumbed for air before outfitting it for the rest of the requirements for whatever you are doing.
  • Make sure you have a suitable number of corporate network drops in place.   You ill not want to rely upon WiFi for everything and you will likely need a printer. that is connected to the corporate network.   In this day and age it might seem silly that you will need to verify enough Ethernet connections in a lab but I've seen some incredibly stupid build outs even in very recent years.    You might also want to consider hardware to run your own private internal network for test.   This effectively giving you a completely isolated network that can allow you to do what is required for any networked hardware you may get.
  • In an ideal world a lab should be fluid, that is it should be easy to reposition equipment as needed.   To that end I'd suggests that at least some of the networking and AC power runs be in cable trays, if legal in your zone.  This to allow the quick repositioning of network cabling or in different cable trays the various AC drops you may need.  Again not knowing how big the banking equipment will be we can't really judge if this is a "hot" feature or not.   there is a big difference between supporting bench top machinery and floor standing devices.   Cabie trays might be a total joke if you can stick to bench top hardware running on single phase.   The reasoning is to allow quick additions to the systems and like wise reconfiguration (if needed).
  • If the floor isn't in yet I'd suggest one of the industrial epoxy floor solutions for use on top of concrete.   A quality Epoxy floor is really nice.   However texture anti-slip tiles can also be nice to have
  • Lastly in the room prep list is a sink with running hot and cold water.   This should be obvious but sinks are extremely useful for the project at hand and for the human.
Quote

So, our new lab would be doing something like :
  • PCB Troubleshooting and PCB repairing
  • Component quality testing (to test the quality of a components like resistor, diode, etc)
  • Component durability testing
You hope that, that is what they want from you.
Quote
I need a recommendation about what equipment do I need, and which product/brand you guys think are the best.(it's okay if the product is expensive)

Thanks for any of you who are willing to help.
Have a good day!
I actually had plans to make up two other lists to start to fill the room I described above.   Unfortunately it is late and the toothpicks are bending.   I will say this you can buy a Fluke DMM today and not be wrong.    You will likely find that one DMM isn't enough anyways.  In any event more complete lists will have to come later.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2022, 04:17:54 am »
First question: what's your budget?
To be honest. I don't really know. The owner of the company just said to me "it's okay if we have to make rather big investment for the lab."

Unfortunately the budget determines everything.
They hired you at considerable expense, so any business with half a clue knows that it's going to cost at least that again to build the lab, so I'd probably guess $50k at a minimum?
Tell them you really need at least a ballpark budget in order to determine the tools required. Explain to them that tools of all varieties (and even stuff likes benches, fume extraction, lighting etc) come in cheap-arse, mid, and high end.
So you can equip a lab with technically the same "functional" stuff for a cheap-arse, mid, or high end cost.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Professional Lab Requirements?
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2022, 04:20:18 am »
Second question are you repairing, testing, designing, programming or building equipment? Are the products already built in house?

Most banking equipment is repaired under maintenance contracts with service agents so might help to be specific on what the role of the lab is and the extent of your responsibility.

Note also in some industries like security, banking and aviation there are standards. For instance if working on consumer goods PAT testing may be required for safety. Others may require calibration or the lab be ISO certified etc. If you are working on another manufacturers equipment there may be specific requirements or they may have their own tools to program or configure their products. They also may be able to provide advice on testing and equipment setup.

I do PCB level repairing and component level testing. So, I have to do component testing to know which brand/manufacturer has the best component accuracy and durability. Therefore whenever there's a broken PCB need a component swap, I already know which brand/manufacturer my replacement component should come from.

Proper component testing will require a proper thermal chamber, possibly with humidity capability as well.
 


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