Testing is a critical but often overlooked component of any product lifecycle. Its benefits are rarely apparent right up until a major issue occurs.
Geotab recognises the importance of testing and strives to continuously test devices before, during, and even after their lifetime.
Making it Work
Everyone hates reading manuals and I’m willing to bet that you are no different, which is why the GO devices do not come with an operational manual. Here at Geotab testing is taken very seriously to ensure that the products begin working as soon as they are plugged into a vehicle.
Each GO device is configured and ready to go (pardon the pun) right out of the box. The devices go through extensive testing before they make it out of Geotab’s doors. Our engineers have done their fair share of fumbling with wires, tools, and schematics so that you don’t have to.
Testing at Geotab
- Production Testing: Every single GO device goes through a rigorous testing process to ensure that all of the components in the device are working correctly. Any device that does not pass testing is thoroughly analysed to determine the root cause, which helps to improve future hardware.
- Unit Testing: The firmware is essentially the brain of the GO device. With a team of developers working on a single code base it can often be difficult to account for how a change may affect a seemingly unrelated part of code. Unit testing to the rescue! The critical sections of code run unit tests after every change made. Developers are notified of any regressions they may have caused and are forced to fixed them before their code can make it into a release. Unit tests are written to recreate any issues we discover, after which the issue can be patched up and guaranteed to be fixed.
- Quality Assurance: Peer reviews are a fairly new addition to the firmware release and testing cycles, but are becoming more and more important as the team grows. Many obvious mistakes can be overlooked by the developer, which a second set of eyes will surely catch. The peers are also required to thoroughly test the implemented functionality. This is where unit testing proves to be very handy; the tests and their use cases are readily available for the peer to verify, minimising the peer’s work.
- Vehicle Simulations: Supporting all of the major vehicle brands is not a simple task. Despite having standards, each manufacturer has its own nuances in how they implement those standards. Vehicle simulations are run day and night so that we can detect any issue before the devices make their way into the actual vehicles.
- Integration Testing: These tests cover the bigger picture. Interactions with real live servers, GPS satellites, and cellular towers are a big focus. Downtime is unacceptable and we aim to uncover any issue so that they can be resolved as soon as possible. Take a look at Continuous Integration in MyGeotab to get a better idea of how this is handled server-side.
- Physical Stress Testing: The GO device experiences a very wide variety of environments during its operation and it is critical for it to keep working under heavy duress. GO devices are tested and protected against extreme temperatures, electrostatic discharge (EDS), and violent vibrations. Our state of the art testing equipment is able to improve the GO device’s ability to keep working no matter what is thrown at it.
- Return Merchandise Authorisation (RMA): There is no such thing as a perfect product, but Geotab strives to make the GO device as close to perfection as possible. Every device that is returned is analysed by an engineer to determine why the issue occurred, so that we can prevent the issue from reoccurring in the future.
It Doesn’t Stop There
Geotab is always looking at new ways to make the products more robust and user-friendly. Testing is a constantly evolving process and new ways of testing the devices are discovered, some more feasible than others.
A recent focus is to streamline the existing testing to make it more scalable. Steps taken include automating any tests we can, creating documentation around test procedures and results, and using our vast network of vehicles to quickly pinpoint any potential issues before they even arise.
Feedback Is Critical
We realise that customers may still run into problems despite our best efforts to eliminate issues. Our highly skilled and friendly support team is available anytime you may need assistance. Most importantly, Geotab values your feedback because no amount of testing can accurately relay a customer’s experience. If you have any suggestions or comments, please post in the comments box below!
Credits/Author: Piotr Zub, Embedded Systems Developer