Before a product is delivered from the manufacturer to the customer, a factory acceptance test takes place. We explain what the FAT looks like and how you can optimize the process with an app.
What is a factory acceptance test?
Factory acceptance test is the acceptance of a product by the customer at the manufacturer’s site (factory acceptance test = FAT). Before newly manufactured products leave the production facility, they are checked to ensure that they function according to the customer’s specifications and construction rules. A factory acceptance test can be applied in plant engineering, mechanical engineering as well as in the software sector or information technology.
Usually, the factory acceptance test is performed by the contractor (quality manager, design engineer, operating and maintenance personnel) together with the customer or their representatives. If no defects or only insignificant defects are found during the FAT, the product can be accepted. However, if there are significant defects, these must be rectified. Subsequently, the factory acceptance test is performed again by the supplier. Alternatively, the customer may decide to accept the product despite the defects. Normally, a compensation arrangement is made in this case. This means, for example, that an agreement is reached on a price reduction, an extended warranty, or free supply of spare parts.
The difference between FAT and SAT
In contrast to the factory acceptance test (FAT), the acceptance of a machine or system in the site acceptance test (SAT) takes place directly on the customer’s premises – i.e. after delivery. It is checked whether the control and safety systems operate fully in accordance with their functional specifications. After the SAT has been carried out, the machine or plant is commissioned.
How does the factory acceptance test work?
The individual steps of the factory acceptance test are different for each product. Nevertheless, you can consider the following procedure as a general guide:
Detailed planning is required for an efficient factory acceptance test. It is determined which tests should take place and who will conduct them. As many functional tests as can be implemented in the factory should be included. Appropriate levels of competence and independence of the testers must be ensured during testing.
During the planning phase, the test protocol is being developed. This should include pass/fail criteria or targeted outcomes for each element tested.
Before the factory acceptance test begins, the manufacturer should submit the FAT protocol to the customer for review and approval.
Reference documents should also be prepared as the basis for the acceptance criteria. These may include customer specifications, building codes, data sheets, engineering drawings, evidence of test and inspection results, and checklists for the FAT.
Once the process is approved, the manufacturer conducts a “pre-test” to ensure a smooth FAT process. This must include identifying and eliminating any potential hazards in the test area.
Subsequently, the device is tested by a quality assurance team in accordance with the procedure approved by the distributor. Ad hoc testing may be required if irregularities are found.
If faults occur during the test, they are documented together with the measures required to correct them.
Once the defect list has been worked through and adjustments have been made, quality managers, the manufacturer’s lead designer and production manager, and a representative of the customer should sign an official acceptance report.
What do I need to consider for a successful factory acceptance test?
The following points should be considered when conducting a factory acceptance test:
Create a detailed test plan including all responsibilities, accountabilities and deliverables to avoid any conflicts and blame.
Use the materials in the FAT that are also used in daily production. Otherwise, the validity of the tests will be compromised.
Involve the people who are ultimately responsible for operating the machines.
Provide adequate time for the FAT and never forgo important tests just to meet delivery deadlines.
Be aware of the difference between a factory acceptance test and a site acceptance test. The FAT is not intended to simulate how a machine will operate under real factory conditions. This is often not even realized in the manufacturer’s plant.
The advantages of a factory acceptance test
Customers can see and touch the equipment in operating condition before delivery.
Problems can be fixed before the equipment arrives at the customer’s site. This helps keep the project on time and on budget.
Fixing defects before delivery almost always saves time and money compared to fixing problems on-site at the customer’s facility.
The manufacturer can provide initial training to the customer. This gives the people who will later be working with the product more confidence in their first hands-on experience.
Based on the results of the FAT, both parties can create a punch list of additional items that need to be completed before shipping.
How can an app help with the factory acceptance test?
An app can make factory acceptance testing much more reliable and effective for your company. Eliminate a lot of paperwork or protocols in Excel that are saved in a different version by each processor. With a smart app, you can easily perform recurring inspections via your smartphone or tablet.
If the creation of your individual app fails due to a lack of programming skills? Then Open as App has the solution for you. With our no-code platform, you can take the creation of an app into your own hands. Simply upload your existing spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets) and our App Creator will build your custom app based on the existing data and formulas. With just a few clicks, you can then customize and design the app according to your ideas. The first prototype of your app is ready in just a few minutes.
All the advantages of a factory acceptance test app at a glance: