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What about an open source manufacturing software for the consumer electronics industry?

Le 07/11/2013 à 23:50

What I do

I have worked for 3 different companies that produce and sell consumer electronics devices with Linux as their operating system. Part of my job for the last 4 years has been to develop and maintain custom Linux systems that test and validate hardware in production. First, I need to check IC soldering, connectivity and global quality of the PCB assembly. Then I have to make sure the embedded software is properly running. This way, we can ensure the product is fully functional.

There are plenty of elements to test, for instance that touchscreens, GPS, buttons, connectors, etc. are responding. If those tests detect a problem, the device can be reworked before the end of production line. Believe me, you don’t want to manually rework tens of thousand devices later in your warehouse. Or worst, discover a hardware issue once the product is sold to the customer. This is part of the quality process. Mass recall is your worst company’s nightmare.

Another aspect of my job is to inject data into the device during production. Serial numbers, mac addresses, PCB and components revisions/versions and even marketing content.


Every time I changed job, I found a new home-made system. Either I had to maintain an existing project or I had to build a new one from scratch.

Recently I changed job and inherited a new home-made system to maintain. At this point I just realized we (embedded linux developers) were developing the same thing again and again. When I started to ask other engineers around me I understood many people were doing the same thing. With many levels of complexity, from the quick and dirty shell script to an elaborate GUI with full interactive interface.

Therefore I started to search for an open source project that could do the work. I didn't find anything: unfortunately, there are so many features and bricks that I need I never find together in the same software.

Today I'm wondering if there are other people like me with the same need. I would be glad to contribute to an open source project if I could find one. But actually, it seems that such a software doesn't exist... yet!

So, here is the idea: what about a generic, lightweight and customizable manufacturing software for production and PCB assembly? It could be even used for tests during development or to easily find/locate bugs.

What I need

Here is what I have in mind. The ideal software I’d love to use on a daily basis.


Hardware tests

A sample list of possible tests to offer

Let’s do it!

I really don't know if this kind of application would be helpful to big companies. But from what I saw, small companies that produce hardware could need such a software. So people like me could focus on something else than writing crappy scripts/code to test hardware. I'm the only embedded Linux developer in my company, and I have to handle so many things / projects that having a powerful tool that eases my work would be great! We could benefit from everyone's work and have a very powerful generic tool. (like u-boot, buildroot, etc.)

Feel free to tell me what do you think about this idea! Especially if you could have such a need. And please, tell me if you think it's a bad idea! Or if you know something that already does the job! I guess it could be very useful to developers like me, working in the consumer electronics industry.

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