For the manufacturing uninitiated, a manufacturing facility can be pretty impressive. Robots, half-million dollar pick-and-place machines and assembly lines with people diligently working on making stuff produce a lot of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’.
But, automation is only part of the story. There is a lot of decision-making and little details to make things actually work. Our first week in manufacturing has had some setbacks with a few misplaced parts and similar issues, but our manufacturing partner has beefed up their support and Sean, Dan and I have working side by side with them. We’re refining our production process and ironing out errors. In all, we are still making decent time.
All production processes look different, but here’s a peek at ours:
1) Pre-assemble case. Many parts are more efficiently pre-assembled in bulk – placing the small light-blocking o-rings in the main case, for example, or installing the battery. These pre-assembly steps are largely done for all 500 units, so once circuit boards are ready the device will snap together pretty quickly.
2) Assemble + test circuit boards. The 2 circuit boards are connected, bluetooth and DACs are configured, EEPROM (memory) is zeroed out and lights are tested.
3) Place boards in case. Circuit boards are installed in the case. The PAR sensor, which contains several very small parts which fit precisely around the TCS light sensor, is assembled at this time as well.
4) Calibrate + validate. We have 7 individual calibration steps, as well as a final validation on 3 different plants of varying leaf colors and thicknesses. All of this data is saved to the website and you (the user) can follow up on your devices factory calibration (if you want).
5) Pack and ship. Now the final devices are packed in their boxes and shipped to labs around the world.
As of today (Thursday), we have almost all of the pre-assembly work done, and are in phases (2) and (3) above. Most of next week will be spent calibrating devices and boxing them up to ship.
We’ll keep you in the loop as we go.