Kevin Parmenter, Field Applications Manager, Taiwan Semiconductor
The general-purpose electronics test equipment segment includes oscilloscopes, signal generators, digital multimeters, logic analyzers, spectrum analyzers, Bit Error Rate Testers (BERT), Vector Network analyzers, power meters, electronic counters, modular instrumentation, Automated Test Equipment (ATE), and power supplies and the like. This market is expected to grow from 2019 through 2024 at a CAGR of 3.9% from 26 Billion USD today to USD 32.3 billion by 2024 – projected by Markets & Markets analysis firm. The rental of this equipment and service contracts also contribute to the rapid growth as often companies finance departments terrified of fixed cost will rent equipment and pay for it 12 times or more over just so they don’t have to invest in capital expenditures, often to the amusement of the rest of us.
The end-use markets contributing to this growth are the electrification and autonomy of transportation in Automotive, Aerospace and Military-defense markets. Semiconductors in ATE and characterization, especially in the new applications with wide bandgap devices and fully integrated power module solutions. The industrial and medical electronics markets are driving the need for testing and precision measurement, including IoT and IIoT applications. RF and power RF devices including advancements in wireless communications and 5G development and deployment including IP backhaul and microwave links. Also, government labs and agencies and university R&D plus education drive quite a bit of this.
Recently, I evaluated a bird site hawk analyzer against several other options for antenna and transmission line analysis. The capabilities that this instrument has only a few years ago would have required a rack full of instruments that would crush their own line cord if set on top of it. This little gem runs android and needs almost zero training if you have used a cell phone before you can use it. Calibration is easy with a T-bone included and it’s easy to use for Distance to Fault location or DTF mode indicates VSWR or Return Loss levels at each point along the cable and antenna system length. It’s an astounding value and it runs for hours on a single charge.
Many examples of this in the test and measurement market abound – never can you get so much capability and value for money invested. There is simply no excuse for development engineers to have to resort to using toys when real instruments are available that have traceable to NIST calibration standards at exceptional prices. What used to fill a rack can now be portable and hand carried to where the functionality is needed. Like much of the electronics industry specialization and integration are some of the trends in the T&M market where low cost oscilloscopes now also integrate frequency counters and bode plot -gain phase analysis built in as well. The cost of the instrumentation spans a range of hundreds of dollars for bench equipment all the way to hundreds of thousands or more for sophisticated ATE equipment. If your business has anything to do with electronics or power electronics, the test and measurement industry is key to you.