While working with any process development or test system, it becomes quite essential to
draw a difference between which settings (configurations) go under the station and which settings (configurations) go under the product. To understand this, let's understand product vs. station.
What is a Product?
Product is the real part that gets produced with the help of the Station (process machine). The product can be of just a single type or a family. A single type product usually has only a single set of settings. On the other hand, each product under a family could have the same settings but with a few settings that differ from one-to-another while in production. In reality, it's the only family of products that goes through the station because of cost-effectiveness.
What is Station?
The Station is a stationary location with a lot of actors on the product to get it shaped into a real product. In most cases, again due to cost-effectiveness, the station remains the same for one or more products. Since the station serves multiple product buildings, the station would share its resources and so virtually have a fixed (or limited) set of resources to serve the family of products to be tested.
What is a product family?
A product is a single fixed featured package and when there are slight variations in features between the products, then those slightly different products become a family.
A station doesn't necessarily serve just only a single product in its lifetime but in many situations, it will serve a family of products. The one initially just a single product turns out as a family of products when the external forces push it.
For example, one of the external forces is user desire for the betterment of the product, when your first product starts serving the customers. After experiencing the first product, then customers requests a better product and changes in it, and there comes a second product with slight changes or new features added to it. Versioning of products comes in here. Another example of external force is, market change or material scarcity, etc.
That external force enforces the second product of almost the same variant but with little changes to evolve. Eventually, this second product will also go through the same test station where the initial product was tested. You may cease to use the same station until there is a great new feature the current test station is incapacitated to test that new feature.
Why should you keep the line of difference between product vs. station configs?
As you can sense from previous explanations that products keep evolving and so the versioning of products becomes important, as so the keeping of various configurations of the products. Similarly, the station does evolve but at any given moment station would usually be static.
How do keep the Product vs. Station (Configurations) settings separate?
Let's consider a power supply product that you produce needs to be distinguished between two members of the family
Bring down various settings of both products and stations in a single list.
Identify the difference between the products and their test cases. Usually, this can be found under test specifications. For eg., one of the products works under the 5-10V range whereas another product has a 3.3V to 14V range.
All the settings identified with differences can go to product settings and all those unidentified can go into station settings.
Remember the dynamism in this process. As the product family evolves and new differences between products come in, then station settings will seep into product settings.