The Importance of Thorough System Testing

Properly performed tests can provide a high level of assurance that a system will not have problems in startup and operation. Short of that, problems can prevail.

All automation projects ideally follow a process that reflects the classic systems engineering V model, whereby a need is identified, which drives requirements. Requirements are analyzed and broken down so that they can be allocated to a functional solution. In this manner, the classic “How do you eat an elephant?” problem can be tackled with a “one bite at a time” strategy.

Once all requirements are allocated to an agreeable solution, the work to realize the solution can begin. Starting with the smallest subsystems identified in the analysis and allocation phases, the full solution comes together as subsystems are integrated to form a complete system that is not only built correctly, but provides a solution to the original need. Critical to the ultimate success of any automation project is appropriate testing as the system is being realized.

In the industrial automation world, two very common terms are factory acceptance testing (FAT) and site acceptance testing (SAT). The FAT is typically performed at the facility of the system provider, either by an OEM or a control system integrator. A properly performed FAT will provide…

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