Hi everyone – it’s been about 3 weeks working here at Saline Lectronics to get the initial build of 250 MultispeQs underway. There have been lots of ups and downs, but we finally got the motor running.
We can now make about 24 units per day, which means we can fulfill the initial 250 in about 11 working days. Here are some pictures of the first 24, ready to be put in a box.
Thank you so much Jared, Paul, Jan, Cathy and everyone else at Lectronics for pushing through and getting 250 units through completion… it would probably surprise people how much we had to touch every single one of these devices to get them out into the world. Hopefully the next 250 are easier than the first 250 🙂
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.
Today we started producing the first 250 of our 500 initial production batch at Saline Lectronics, a contract manufacturing company out of Saline MI. No major hiccups, though we had one or two LEDs which were switched and a filter which was incorrectly sized, but those are fixable in the next day. Luckily we found them after the first 30 units, and not after the first 500 🙂
We spent most of today prepping the case itself (as you can see in the picture), and did a dry run of a single unit through the entire process (from assembly to calibration) to ensure we had everything we needed. Bluetooth continues to be challenging (connecting mostly), and it’s now my least favorite communication standard by far! But once you get it connected once it gets easier after that.
Expect to see more updates in the next few days as we continue to move forward. The current estimated ship date is March 3rd. If there are problems or setbacks I will update you as soon as they happen.