In our work at Vecta Labs, we are often challenged by industry partners. In fact, when reviewing our service offering, one of the more common and interesting questions we are asked by these businesses is: “We do what you do, so why do we need Vecta Labs?”
At the same time, another very common question we are often asked is: “Why, when we use the same equipment and specification for interference and test measurement, do we get different test outcomes compared to the outcomes demonstrated by Vecta Labs?
You might notice, when reading these questions, they are juxtaposition statements, contradicting each other. The first question seems to suggest the measurements Vecta Labs can achieve will be exactly the same as what everyone else (including the technology suppliers) will achieve, while the second question asks us how they can explain the difference between measurements from both.
While both questions might be contrary to one another, there is a single and possibly surprising explanation.
The answer is simply, Vecta Labs’ test authenticity has limited dependency on the equipment.
Before moving further, I would like to press the point – our brand name is Vecta Labs as our facilities are laboratory settings. We are a company built on laboratory testing, using scientific capabilities and laboratory testing environments to do our work – it’s fascinating stuff.
However, I digress, so to return to responding to the discussion at hand, we regularly receive interest from testing companies to purchase our transportable test chamber, with the expectation that this can be used in their own testing environment to perfectly replicate Vecta Labs’ test outcomes.
Unfortunately, in many instances, this won’t work.
As such, we do not sell our test systems since it is highly likely that correlation of measurements by a third party, using the Vecta test system, will rarely achieve the same outcomes that we can at Vecta Labs.
The test instrumentation we use is well known and readily available to others, so there is little secret about our test hardware.
This is often the first surprise when we respond to those asking the question and seeking to buy our equipment.
The discussion then moves to the skills required to operate the Vecta Labs test systems, with a rationale that the interested parties have highly skilled and trained specialist staff with years of experience in RF test instrumentation and measurements.
“Our guys are technically very strong and would be close to the skills of Vecta test operators” they say.
The mystery deepens. When we respond like this, the interested parties often begin to question what we mean.
The truth is we intentionally and continuously work towards diminishing the skills required to operate our test systems – we want our systems to be easy to operate and use, ensuring quality outputs. Even more, we use evolving, sophisticated test automation to remove as far as practically possible, any influence a test operator can have on a test outcome. Significant engineering effort over the course of several years combined with our deep knowledge of RF has allowed our test systems to reach this advanced stage of automation.
Our test equipment, then is designed to remove risk of human error.
That is often surprise number two for those asking the question.
At Vecta Labs, the test authenticity has limited dependency on the skill set of the test operator.
So, and this is where it gets interesting – it’s not the test equipment and it’s not operator skills.
What else is there?
The answer is much deeper and takes us to our very particular ‘style’ of working.
From the first days of Vecta Labs in 2014, we built this company around individual-level mental processes such as information processing, attention, perception, problem solving, decision-making, and thinking (Gerrig and Zimbardo refer to this as Cognitive Phycology: 2002).
To cut through this jargon, Vecta Labs test and review staff will struggle and possibly fail to work effectively in a manufacturing process where efficiency measured by output and time is the commanding performance metric.
By contrast, Vecta Labs can only be measured by precision and accuracy, within defined limits of measurement uncertainty. These are two very different environments.
Vecta Labs test staff are ‘programmed’ to be suspicious of good results surrounded by an unstable trace across the instrument screen.
They will always have heightened awareness of unusual patterns of results, good or bad. Anything deviating from a normal result spread, established over thousands of test cycles and test products, must be treated with caution and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to shut down testing and investigate the test system and product under test. This is common and may interrupt testing for hours.
To summarise, Vecta Labs’ test authenticity has very considerable dependency on the context of the organisation, its culture and management objectives and performance.
None of this suggests that Vecta Labs has no appreciation for time. Of course, time is everything in business, although when it comes to an independent certified test laboratory, time can never take precedence over the certainty of measurement accuracy.
The three elements of equipment, human skills and ‘style’ distinguish Vecta Labs world-over. A challenge for others wanting to replicate our test outcomes is that ‘style’ is hard to create and maintain. Mixing our style, in for instance a conventional manufacturing organisation, would not achieve the expected objectives.
We know this from considerable experience in prior years, designing, manufacturing, and testing antennas and antenna line RF products. The challenges then were always to meet the pressures of margin, output, time and quality, while trying to embrace a ‘perfect’ testing regime. It should be no surprise that this triggered the genesis of a pure-play independent test house laboratory, and Vecta Labs of course.
From Mike Symes – Founding Member and Director, Vecta Labs