🏭 Going into Manufacturing
Q1: What is the "Product Industrialization"?
Why it is important?
Industrializing a product doesn’t mean manufacturing a product, it means getting this product ready for manufacturing. Starting from a finalized prototype or golden sample, it involves designing the product in such a way that it can deliver on its KPIs but also producing & testing the reliability of all the tools, assembly lines & test benches that will ensure mass production is a success.
Here, let us debunk some stereotypes: not all engineering outputs were created equal.
There is a difference between investing money on engineering and investing money on good engineering.
Hence, you may think you have done your part by investing large sums of money on in-house or 3rd party engineering. Heck, you may already have some drawings & designs lined up.
But will these engineering outputs allow you to successfully deliver your product at scale?
Digging deeper, the designs you’re being presented with must allow your product to:
- be purchasable: meaning that selected components & manufacturing techniques are readily available & cost-effective.
- be manufacturable: meaning that assembly is optimized, fast & fool-proof.
- be testable: meaning that quality is easy to check & quality yields are acceptable.
- be shippable: meaning that your SKU is optimized for your desired means of transportation according to your logistics & distribution strategy.
- be certifiable: meaning that your product can successfully comply with the local regulation of the market where it will be put on for consumption or use.
Although the above happens during manufacturing but it is actually decided way before anything is produced during the engineering phase. There is little you can do at the factory if your product has been engineered poorly. That is why industrializing a product is so important: it is the difference between having a working prototype & having a full-fledge scalable design & supply chain for a product that will reach your market at the right time, for the right cost and with the expected features.
If your manufacturing output can allow for the above to be true, then only will you be able to fulfill your product’s Magic Triangle & overall business KPIs. That is the reason why at Supernova we define those KPIs even before receiving a penny from you, before any engineering is done & we fully commit & contract on their delivery.
The main levers?
- Electronics: production of steel masks, assembly of components on electronic boards (SMT engineering, DIP)
- Mechanicals: design and implementation of all the tools (molds, dies, etc.), decoration tools, assembly plan.
- Test Benches: design, production & reliability.
- Techniques: the realization of the elements of the manufacturing file.
⚙️ You haven’t started Product Development - we can take care of engineering a ready-for-manufacturing product & supply chain from the get-go.
🏭 You have already started Product Development - we can make a DFM evaluation of your existing engineering outputs to make them ready for manufacturing.
Q2: What is the Manufacturing Plan?
The Manufacturing Plan means all drawings, planning documents, work methods, design of tools, lists of parts, software, encoding and burning files, instructions and procedures related to the manufacturing, assembly, quality inspection, acceptance tests and inspection of the product.
The Manufacturing Plan consists of:
Consists of all the Design For Manufacturing files:
Bill of Materials
- General BOM: plastics, metals, glass, wood parts
- PCB drawings & specs
- eBOM list for PCBA components
- battery, screen, speaker, cables, charger, washers, etc...
- Electronic part schematics & gerber drawings, 3Ds & spec sheets
- Mechanical part drawings, 3Ds & spec sheets
- Packaging & user manual design files
- ID & CMF requirements
- Spec Sheets of the key parts & components
All Assembly SOPs files - Standard Operating Procedure - which explains how to assemble & test the product from start to finish as well as the organization of the assembly line.
- Assembly SOP
- Testings SOP & PASS/FAIL Standards
- Jigs design
- Labelling Requirement
A set of documents that describe the standards, quality practices, resources and processes pertinent to your product.
The Quality Specifications document which brings together the quality criteria for acceptance of the finished assembled product.
- Product Validation Checklist
- Golden Sample (if available)
The Control Plan which will make it possible to carry out the daily report of each production line with the detail of the non-compliant products (NG) by station and by type of non-compliance.
- iQC standards
- IPQC standards
- OQC standards
How your business plans to deliver your product to its customers.
- Packing SOP which explain the procedure to package the product in the boxes then the boxes on the pallets.
- SKU List - Stock Keeping Unit - which explain what is included in one packaging box: product, accessories, user manual, etc
- Define your preferred Means of Transport (Air, Sea, Rail)
- Define your shipping unit: individual cartons or pallets
- Carton Markings
- Transport Label
Q3: What are the main Manufacturing Tools?
Some processes require to have a mould tooling in order to be manufactured at scale.
This is the case for example for plastic injection: the mould allows the mass production of one or more plastic parts in an efficient, fast & reliable manner. Each mould requires significant design & production time and it is not unusual for the whole process to take between 8 to 12 weeks between the actual mould production & trial runs.
On top of that, it is a complex technical element from a mechanical standpoint which explains why it has a fairly high cost - from several $10,000s to even $100,000s depending on the design complexity.
Assembly jigs are mechanical tools used to facilitate, speed up & increase assembly process accuracy. They ensure the accurate position of various components: for example inserting bolts, placing stickers or sealers for example. They guide the operators to the correct tasks & ultimately “fool-proof” the assembly process, de facto optimizing the on-line quality yield.
A PCB Stencil is a sheet of stainless steel with laser-cut openings used to place solder paste on designated places on a bare PCB board so that components can be placed and perfectly aligned on the board during surface mount component placement.
Its main function is to accurately deposit the right amount of solder paste on SMT pads so that the solder joint between the pad and the component is perfect in terms of the electrical connection and mechanical strength.
Test benches are used during manufacturing to check whether the quality of the PCBA assembly is consistent - by performing ICT In-Circuit Testings & FCT Functional testings for example. At the end of said testings, the production firmware is usually flashed into the device before final product assembly.
AOI & AXI
Automated optical inspection AOI is an automated visual inspection of a PCBA manufacture where a camera autonomously scans the device under test for both catastrophic failure (missing component) & quality defects (component skew, misplacement etc). It is commonly used in the manufacturing process because it is a non-contact test method. It is implemented at many stages through the manufacturing process including bare board inspection, solder paste inspection (SPI), pre-reflow and post-reflow as well as other stages.
Automated X-ray inspection AXI is a technology based on the same principles as automated optical inspection AOI but it uses X-rays as its source, instead of visible light, to automatically inspect features, which are typically hidden from view. In that sense, it is a great tool used to check assembly consistency for Ball Grid Array BGA components - where soldering pads are located under the component making it harder to check from the outside.
Q4: What are the main Industrialization steps?
A good Industrialization & Manufacturing process should be like a well-oiled machine, it should run smoothly & its performance should be predictable. Unfortunately, a lot of externalities can come & disrupt it so there is no one-fits-all planning:
- poorly made product engineering requiring an in-depth DFM prior to manufacturing - if not a complete re-design...
- stretchy purchasing lead times making time-to-market unbearable - actually linked to the previous point.
- quality issues during manufacturing because of poor engineering or production management processes.
- logistics glitches like we have experienced during covid 19.
Well-managed engineering and manufacturing processes & resources should get you out of the weeds though & below macro steps shall then be achievable:
- DFM. It should take no more than 1 week if the engineering is on point but can drag over a few months if that isn’t the case.
- Mould Tooling opening. Depends highly on the complexity of your design but usually takes 8 to 12 weeks.
- Purchasing. Depends on design & market conditions but can usually be completed within 15 weeks in normal conditions. During covid 19, we have experienced exceptional lead times stretching up to 70 weeks for some components - or even dry shortage. We usually solve that during product engineering by carefully selecting risk-free components and by launching purchasing POs prior to industrialization to avoid scheduling issues.
- Manufacturing. The actual manufacturing run usually takes around 2 to 3 weeks.
- Logistics. Obviously depends on your selected means of transportation & Port of Destination POD but, in normal conditions, it can take from a few days (Air) to 50 days (Sea). We can support you on designing bespoke logistics strategies in order to help you achieve your TTM (Time-To-Market) while keeping cost reasonable.
Q5: What’s the Quality Control Dept role?
The QC department drafts & implements the Quality Plan in order to make sure that the testings are relevant & results are dependable prior to & during manufacturing.
It oversees the whole manufacturing process to make sure that each QC steps are efficiently implemented (iQC, DUPRO, QA).
Finally, it audits & validates sub-suppliers within the product’s supply chain to make sure that Quality Yields can be met consistently according to the expressed need and that Ethical, Social & Environment standards are strictly met.
Q6: How do you handle Certification?
Electronic products sold globally must be compliant with various legislations and regulations. Compliance means that the product has undergone the correct assessment criteria and meets the general requirements for safety, health, and environmental protection in order to be placed on its destination market.
Some of the most common certification marking required to access markets:
- European CE marking is a mandatory conformity marking for any products manufactured, imported, or sold in the EU market.
- RED directive applicable for the certification requirements of electronic devices and radio equipment that are manufactured, imported, or sold in the European Union.
- EMC directive designed to ensure that the device doesn’t disturb or create interference on other radio and telecommunications equipment. It is also designed to protect electrical and electronic devices from potential hazards such as electrical fast transients, lightning strikes, and electrostatic discharges.
- RoHS & REACH directives designed to set protective measures for both people and the environment from banned, hazardous chemicals and substances which are found in devices.
- the American FCC marking is designed for electronic products manufactured or sold in the United States. It certifies that the electromagnetic compatibility and interference from the device adheres to limits approved by the FCC.
- UL1642, UL2054 & UN38.3 are standards used for battery safety assessment & safe worldwide transportation.
The certification process usually follows below main steps:
- Pre-Qualification during Engineering to ensure technical choices are in line with Compliance standards.
- Certification is usually made with products made from first-runs.
- The Certification process takes between 6 to 8 weeks.
- Registered Name is yours but as your manufacturer, we follow-up & support the whole process on your behalf.
Q7: What is an SKU?
A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a scannable bar code, most often seen printed on product labels in a retail store. The label allows vendors to automatically track the movement of inventory. The SKU is composed of an alphanumeric combination of eight-or-so characters. The characters are a code that track the price, product details and the manufacturer.
As much as the SKU is used on the retail or distribution side of the supply chain - after manufacturing, it is actually quite an important notion to integrate early in the manufacturing process because behind an SKU number usually lies the composition of said SKU. In fact, SKU numbers will change depending on the product bundle handled in the inventory so it is important that your manufacturing process mirrors such inventory management, especially if you are shipping your product directly to fulfillment & distribution centers!
🚀 Who is Supernova?
We love unlocking growth with next-level hardware products & technologies.
We've built a 50-year old legacy on that.
Phase 1. Product Development Engineering.
Customer brings the concept & required features for its market, we build the tech solution then engineer & validate it.
- Electronic Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- RF & Antenna Design
- Firmware Engineering
- APP development
- Back End development
Phase 2. Contract Manufacturing.
Customer brings the designs for us to manufacture at scale or we use the one we engineered in phase 1.
- Mould Tooling
- Plastic Injection
- Metal CNC & Stamping
- PCBA SMT & DIP
- Product Assembly
- Product Test Lab
Sounds cool but what’s in it for you?
Growth. Engineered & Manufactured for Scale.
Working with us allows you to create a competitive advantage on your Market by delivering the best product at the fastest speed for the fairest cost.
You will reach your macro Business Growth targets - revenue, profitability & KPIs - without the risk & cost of managing complex hardware engineering processes & manufacturing supply chains.
We are the only Design-to-Purpose Design House & Manufacturer.
- Design to Specs
- Design to Target Price
- Design to Lead Time