A design is not a good design if it cannot be manufactured. Choices about manufacturing are an important cost driver for your final product. To make your product as successful as possible, manufacturing requires special focus, which we cover with industrialization.
Industrialization involves all activities that are needed to transfer a product design to manufacturing. At Zign Innovations we take care of this by:
- early manufacturing involvement throughout the design process (DfM, DfT, DfA)
- in-house development of test equipment like functional testers (FCT)
- arranging the required tooling (i.e. moulds for product enclosures and fixtures used in manufacturing)
- production line setup at one of our proven and trusted manufacturing facilities in Europe or Asia
- production of a pilot run for final verification & validation
- dedicated support by our experts in product compliance testing and certification
Product development and successful transfer to manufacturing and is all about collaboration. Throughout the years we have build partnerships with a selective number of suppliers, who are not only capable in their field of expertise, but also have shown the ability to work successfully together on the most challenging projects.
Early manufacturing involvement
Right from the start of the engineering phase, we keep the end goal in mind: production and delivery of a high-quality product to your warehouse. How do we make sure that the products we design, can be cost-effectively manufactured and meet the agreed quality criteria? At Zign Innovations we believe in early manufacturing involvement. Together with our suppliers we perform the following reviews during and after the design process:
- Design for Manufacturing (DfM): early analysis and optimization of PCBA design files in order to maximize product quality and production yield;
- Design for Assembly (DfA): early analysis and optimization of PCBA design files in order to optimize assembly and assembly cost;
- Design for Test (DfT): analysis and optimization of product design in order to enhance test access and test coverage;
- Bill of Materials review: analysis of components lifecycle, identifying critical lead times, finding possible alternatives and preparation of risk-buy proposals to ensure availability or shorten time-to-market;
- Box build review: analysis of supply chain, assembly process and serviceability.
By early manufacturing involvement we can reduce the number of design iterations and the number of defects (yield).
Test equipment (in-house development)
Depending on the product characteristics, quality requirements and manufacturing risks, we propose a test strategy for your product. As part of the test strategy, we design and build functional test equipment (FCT) during the Industrialisation phase. An FCT is used to validate the intended functionality of each PCBA produced. For each function, a testcase is defined and programmed into our own Zign Test Framework (ZTF). Typical tests that are performed are programming of microcontrollers and memory, validation of communication modules (WiFi, BT, etc.), running self tests of sensors, etc. For each produced PCBA the test results are stored in our ZTF database in real-time. This allows us to analyze trends in production quality over time. For more information, check our section on test tooling development.
Tooling (i.e. moulds for enclosures)
For non-electronic parts like a plastic enclosure, we arrange all the required moulds through our partner network with a selective number of proven suppliers. Based on product characteristics, target cost price and production volumes and location, we select together with our client the right production location for moulds and plastics production (EU or Asia). We are fully transparent in this process and welcome our clients to join us in visiting and/or auditing the production locations and quality control (QC) procedures.
Production line setup
During the industrialization phase all aspects of the production line are prepared. We have trusted manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia with state-of-the-art capabilities and proven high-quality standards. Not only in general management standards as ISO 9001:2015, but also in medical devices (ISO 13485:2018), environment (ISO 14001:2015), information security (ISO 27001:2013) and of course IPC-A-610 certification for electronics assembly.
As part of the production line setup solder paste stencils are ordered and various (automated) test systems are programmed:
- Solder paste inspection (SPI 2D&3D)
- Component placement inspection (AOI 2D&3D)
- X-ray inspection
- Flying probe
Depending on the product specifications additional process steps are prepared and verified:
- Automatic coating
- Ultrasonic welding
- Laser marking
- PCB cleaning
For box build projects the assembly line is designed with detailed instructions per station and where needed supporting assembly jigs are created.
Pilot run product for final verification & validation
The pilot run is a very small production run, to be made in exactly the same conditions as mass production. Quantities vary from a few tens to few hundreds. The pilot run is often considered the highlight of the industrialisation phase, as this is the moment where all outputs of the product development project (raw materials, components, production, assembly line, test equipment, quality control, packaging and logistics) come together in the final product. This first small batch of the product is typically used for the following purposes:
- Verification testing (specifications, system integration, production line)
- Validation testing (field tests, client acceptance tests)
Compliance testing and CE/FCC certification support
Obtaining the necessary certification for your device can be a challenging process. What are the applicable directives for your device? What is the appropriate route to conformity? Which notified body to select for the assessment of your product? What technical documentation is required? How to prevent fails during compliance testing causing extra rework costs and serious delays in market introduction?
At Zign Innovations we can help you with all of the above. From the beginning of the project we can help you navigate this critical area in product development. We have experience with certification of consumer, industrial and medical devices. During the engineering phase, our in-house specialists perform EMC, RED and Product Safety pre-compliance tests to mitigate the risk of costly rework in later stages of the project. During the industrialization phase a number of products from the pilot run are handed over to the selected notified body for testing and certification. We provide you with dedicated support in this process!
Quality of the final product
The industrialization process is a critical process to ensure the quality of the final product. The best designed product can fail if it is not produced to meet its quality requirements. Industrialization is a standard step in our development process. Also with a finished design as input, we can provide this service to bring the design to production. Do you need expert support to bring your product to market? Give us a call and we can discuss what we can do for you.