HALT Training: The Key to Setting up a Safe and Effective HALT Test Lab

Friday, June 28 2024

Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) is a rigorous testing methodology that identifies the weak points in a product’s design by subjecting it to stress levels well beyond its operational specifications. The goal of HALT is to improve a product’s reliability and durability by identifying and correcting its potential failures before it reaches the market.

Below, we’ll explore how to set up an effective HALT laboratory. We’ll also examine the importance of HALT training, which equips your team with the skills necessary to conduct reliable testing procedures.

The Basics of HALT

Conventional testing methods simulate normal usage conditions to ensure a product meets its specified durability standards. HALT, on the other hand, pushes products far beyond their operational limits to identify modes of failure quickly.

During HALT, your team will use a combination of extreme thermal and vibration stresses. The objective is to accelerate failures, thus revealing the limits and latent weaknesses in a product’s design, manufacturing, or material selection.

What Industries Can Benefit from HALT?

Your team can perform highly accelerated life testing on a range of Electrical and Electro-mechanical products. The versatility of HALT makes it a great option for testing devices and subcomponents used in:

  • Mechanical systems

  • Medical devices

  • Automotive

  • Aerospace

  • Industrial equipment

  • Consumer goods

  • Defense

  • Oil and Gas exploration

It’s important to remember that HALT ultimately represents an exploratory process. While your team can postulate which components will fail, there are many uncertainties. Therefore, it’s essential that you implement sound procedures and carefully record all data from your processes so you extract the most from your testing.

Planning Your Lab

As you begin setting up your HALT lab, make sure to define your objectives. Be specific, stating what you want to achieve. Understand the products you’ll be testing and their functional test requirements.

Next, consider the demands of testing equipment like HALT chambers. Ensure your lab has enough room for technicians to maneuver safely around the equipment. Consider utility and facility demands such as power (dependent on the equipment you select, typically 3 phase 480 VAC), compressed air, venting, Gaseous Nitrogen, and the critical component of Liquid Nitrogen (unless you are investing in non-nitrogen HALT). Full technical details for these requirements are available and found in our Site Preparation Manual; connect with your local Sales Representative for a copy.

Lastly, you should consider the lab’s location to minimize the piping necessary to reach your Liquid Nitrogen storage, which could impact piping cost and the efficiency of LN2 delivery. Our expert Sales teams and partners can seamlessly guide you through optimizing layout, piping runs, LN2 storage and delivery.

Selecting the Right Equipment

Choosing high-quality HALT chambers is foundational to your overall testing success. The size of your products and volume of testing will direct your chamber selection. You can learn more about our portfolio of HALT chambers here and connect with your local Sales Representative here to discover what your optimal solution will be.

Of course, safety should always be a top priority in any lab setting. As such, make sure you equip your lab with appropriate gear, including protective eyewear and gloves. Using direct-inject Liquid Nitrogen cooling requires specific, safe handling and considerations such as proper ventilation, Oxygen monitoring, and appropriate LN2 emergency shut-off equipment. You should also implement clear safety policies and ensure your team knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Our expert teams and partners can help guide you through best practice safety preparations.

Lastly, you will need a robust data acquisition system. The thermal and vibration data collected during HALT can be extremely valuable for failure analysis.

Building Your Team

HALT requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. With that in mind, ensure your team consists of individuals who are familiar with HALT principles, as well as technicians who are trained to operate the chambers.

Additionally, you’ll want to encourage ongoing education and HALT training. Keep up with the latest methodologies and equipment advancements so you can achieve consistent, reliable outcomes. Our expert Solutions Group is always here to help you achieve optimal success in your lab planning and HALT execution.

Developing Effective Testing Protocols

Finally, you’ll need to implement effective testing protocols. This means creating a detailed plan that defines your objectives, the conditions you'll be creating, the functional test routine for your product, and the criteria for failure.

Maintain documentation for each test you conduct, including its setup procedures, conditions, results, and any anomalies or failures observed. Without good documentation, you won’t be able to analyze the results or make an informed decision about design improvements. Also, it is typical to repeat a HALT on a product and the details of how the first test was conducted can be important for test set-up.