I’m spending time at the factory this week, making sure that our engineering vision is adequately communicated to the assembly personnel.
The more complex the product, the harder it is to communicate the vision. Our digital PCB was a tough nut to crack, but I think we are over the hump now.
The good news is that the factory can stuff the “sadistic chips” all day long, hundreds per hour (that’s way faster than we need). I inspected their work today and it was impeccable.
The chips are sadistic if you try to place them on the board by hand, but the SMT assembly robot doesn’t have feelings — it just places parts. This is where a robot is much better than us uncertain, doubting humans.
So, once we crunched through some documentation errors and got on the same page, I got me 12 PCBs to test.
They all passed. The pass rate is much better than what we had a couple of weeks ago, with hand-stuffed boards.
I did have a “panic moment”, however.
Yesterday I discovered a large discrepancy in our documentation, which was hastily put together prior to the build. The discrepancy concerned some resistor values in the power supply.
If wrong resistors were left on the board and someone had accidentally turned it on, the entire digital board would blow up and return to meet its maker. So I panicked and asked the factory to stop production. They pushed back, asking if they could fix the errors manually after the robot was done. Nevertheless, I insisted — I was too worried about producing “garbage”, so they reluctantly complied and stopped the machine.
That decision came with a price. They cannot restart the robot as easily as they could stop it. Restarting takes hours in setup.
Suddenly, I’m not so popular around here. And all I wanted was quality… Go figure.
Right now I’m trying to find out when is the next time they could squeeze us in to finish our small build.
How ironic — setup takes longer than actual build time on this small prototype order.