How to put electronics in production: analysis of stages and tasks

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We continue a series of publications on the development and production of sophisticated modern electronics. It's time for one of the most interesting topics. Today we talk about mass production. To accomplish this task, you need the right specialists, careful planning, procurement of components, manufacturing of equipment, organization of testing, installation-assembly-packaging-accounting-repair-delivery ... This is a big topic, so we will focus only on the most important issues:

  • Who thinks about manufacturing electronics? Let us explain why almost all the players in the electronics market take into account production issues in their work: both start-ups and mature companies.
  • What are the stages of the commercial production process? Let's see how much work is to be done within the framework of the project. Briefly and point by point.
  • Who is involved in production projects? We list the companies that are needed to organize production.

Who thinks about manufacturing electronics?

An individual entrepreneur or startup takes into account the requirements of commercial production, even if he plans to sell his device at the development stage. After all, the potential cost of the project is significantly reduced if it is impossible to produce it on the basis of available technologies.

The most complete understanding of all stages and potential production risks is possessed by mature companies with experience in the production and supply of a popular product. However, even if they have their own production base and a team of specialists, production issues have to be resolved anew for each new project. For example, an existing production base of a company may not correspond to new development technologies, or it may be occupied by another product in demand, or company contractors may implement a specific project cheaper and better.

Thus, the new device is a fresh analysis of production capabilities, regardless of whether the product company has its own production site.

What are the stages of the commercial production process?

The process of commercial production can be divided into the following basic stages and tasks:

  1. Adaptation of the created device to serial production and to the requirements of a particular manufacturing plant. The development of the case, hardware and software platform is not all, even if prototypes were created during the project (we already wrote more about them ), the adaptation stage is still necessary. Indeed, the production technologies of prototypes are significantly different from the technologies of mass production, which begins with the launch of the “installation” batch. After debugging technical processes, output volumes increase.
  2. Provision of production with the necessary components: boards, electronic components, housing parts, packaging materials, etc. This process should be clearly linked to the timing, the existing storage system and production needs.
  3. Production and transportation of printed circuit boards. For some projects, simple and inexpensive boards are suitable, for others, it will be necessary to order the production of high-precision boards based on the latest technologies.
  4. Preparation and adjustment of technological equipment, this multi-stage process will ensure the highest quality production with a minimum number of technological operations.
  5. Installation of electronic components. As a rule, 85-98% of assembly operations are automatic, manual installation is used if it is impossible or expensive to implement automatic processes.
  6. Quality control. This procedure is carried out at each stage of production, according to its results, analysis, elimination of defects and honing of the process are carried out.
  7. Manufacturing tooling for housings and specialized components of electronic devices. As a rule, this is a very expensive stage.
  8. Production and delivery of housing parts, as well as specialized components.
  9. Assembly of the device according to the instructions. Pre-trained workers do this.
  10. Software installation and functional testing. First comes the firmware of the test program and the execution of tests, in case of success - the installation of working software.
  11. Control of product yield, data collection for statistics and repair (if necessary). Thanks to the labeling of the device, you can keep statistics, localize problem areas and minimize the yield of marriage.
  12. Marking. Each device receives an individual number, it can be used to determine where the product is located at the moment and what work has already been done with it. If the device is defective, the marking allows you to find out at what stage the failure occurred.
  13. Production of packaging, individual packaging of finished devices.
  14. Group packaging of products, transportation to the warehouse of sale.

All these stages and tasks are usually distributed among the various project participants.

Who is involved in production projects?

We will figure out who can perform the tasks that arise at various stages of production:

  1. The company-owner of the new device is, as a rule, the main customer of the entire project, as well as related goods and services.
  2. The company's own production or a third-party electronics factory.
  3. Electronics design centers and other engineering companies that prepare design documentation for mass production compile and optimize the Material List (BOM), etc.
  4. PCB suppliers. Indeed, even with its own production, the company orders the production of boards separately.
  5. Suppliers of electronic components, they supply the necessary components to the production.
  6. Contract manufacturers who manufacture body parts and other specialized components.
  7. Installation organizations with quality control and other specialized manufacturing companies.
  8. The carrier, he is responsible for transporting finished products to a warehouse or to retail chains.

If the company-owner of the new electronic product itself organizes production, it has to coordinate the work of all the listed organizations and specialists, set deadlines and allocate responsibilities. Even in the absence of its own production base, the company can take on some of the tasks. For example, she can choose component suppliers, send her engineers to production to organize testing and quality control, rent her own platform for collecting devices from ready-assembled circuit boards and cases (note: automated assembly lines work only in the production of very large series).

There are different options for organizing the production process: using your own production, connecting various contract manufacturers or working with a single technological partner. We will consider the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches in the next article.

Questions and comments are welcome.