Author Topic: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape  (Read 5742 times)

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Offline rx8pilot

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The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« on: December 29, 2016, 09:55:20 pm »
Hi all.

Over the past couple of years I have been re-tooling my small business to function from home. This is a business that started with a number of huge CNC milling machines and a crew of people. As we grew, the business opportunities seemed more promising in electronics. So I spun off the CNC operation and started designing electronics. The original re-tool concept was that I would mainly design mechanics and electronics at a single desk from my house. That grew to needing a workbench to do some prototyping and testing. Then I needed a shelf, then a tool box, then a stencil printer, SMT oven, laser engraver, pick-and-place assembly machine, more shelves........

About 8 months ago, I need a new scope. I had been looking at new ones for a few months, but got a major break. I won the Keysight Technologies 'Test To Impress' contest and the prize was an MSOX-6000 6Ghz scope with all available options! amazing. The money I was planning to invest in a scope was re-allocated to build a new multi-purpose design-manufacturing room out of my garage. The goal is simple: Create the most productive manufacturing space per square foot the world has ever seen.

I am the sole employee, so everything is on me. If the computer breaks - I have to fix it. If the solder runs out - I have to order it.

My current deliverable product has over 500 parts including CNC machined parts (I still machine them but hopefully not for long), PCB's, software, etc. Managing that process and keeping room for new products in the future is a monumental task for a single person.

I just made a video to show the beginning of the effort. Hope it is interesting to see the transition from hobbyist/maker to professional manufacturer that is my sole source of income.

https://youtu.be/6h-JJvWjEQg

Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 
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Offline Muttley Snickers

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2016, 10:22:05 pm »
Hi Carlos, at least you can still swing a cat which is more than I can currently do, my garage permanently looks like a bomb site even though I have proper racking and storage bins as far as the eye can see, all the bins are labelled so I know where everything is and that's all that counts really.

Looks like you still have a bit of space left for some overhead shelves just for odds and ends, also if it is a pitched roof perhaps you could add an attic ladder and get the ceiling space above into production or more storage anyway.

Thank you for the journey about the place.   :-+ 
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2016, 10:54:48 pm »
Hi Carlos, at least you can still swing a cat which is more than I can currently do, my garage permanently looks like a bomb site even though I have proper racking and storage bins as far as the eye can see, all the bins are labelled so I know where everything is and that's all that counts really.

Looks like you still have a bit of space left for some overhead shelves just for odds and ends, also if it is a pitched roof perhaps you could add an attic ladder and get the ceiling space above into production or more storage anyway.

There is enough space for a 5 axis CNC mill, a 3D printer and a few other goodies before things get out of hand. I am thinking in terms of 'cubic feet' not 'square feet'. I have a whole master plan of custom carts/racks/benches to deal with everything in the most space efficient way possible.

Some pics of the process.....it was a huge mess for a few weeks. Each day I rolled everything out into the driveway and back porch to allow the construction.
Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2016, 11:36:45 pm »
Hi Carlos,

That has to be one of the most inspiring videos I have seen.  Wishing you the best.  You don't need luck, you will make your own.

As a very small suggestion, at one time in my life, we were faced with the problem of stacking trays and trays of a product (petri dishes of a cultured microorganism).  We simply screwed spent, center-fire, shell casings in the corners of the trays.  That saved a lot on space.  They gave perfect spacing, didn't stick, and were very cheap.  I can't recall the caliber right now, but it shouldn't take much to find out.

John
 

Offline Muttley Snickers

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2016, 11:39:44 pm »
With all that tooling and equipment prone I would be absolutely pedantic about having all the relevant insurances regularly reviewed and renewed, not to mention security measures such as surveillance, fire protection and alarm systems, any loss in your case would be horrendous.

When I first moved in here about 15 years ago I installed the security system in the house in the first day or so but needed to trench out to the workshop for additional sensors and was waiting on a plumber mate to pop around to verify the location of underground pipe works prior to digging, anyway a week or so later on a really stormy night some kids I presume got into the workshop and took my golf clubs, skinning knives and some tools but they left all the expensive test gear probably not knowing what it was, they also had a crack at the motor bike and gun safe without success and the insurance covered everything anyway, they don't know how lucky they were that I didn't hear anything.
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2016, 08:37:13 am »
We do have a very comprehensive commercial policy. I rarely leave and we have two large dogs that do not appreciate unexpected guests. Over the next few months, I am hoping to add some additional security. Obviously, nothing is fool proof,  but it is probably more secure than my previous commercial locations.

Sent from my horrible mobile....

Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 

Offline alanb

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2016, 09:22:07 am »
Great video. I would be interested in seeing more particularly about the projects that you are working on.
 

Offline slicendice

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2016, 10:23:54 am »
Awesome demonstration of your mini factory. I can already see where you're heading with it. You've made a lot of good decisions when planning that little box. Looks really good and I love it. Keep video updates coming every now and then. Good luck with your business!

Edit: Once your factory is completed, I'd like to see a small demonstration of each part of the process from idea, design, prototyping, manufacturing to packaging and delivery. 5-10minute videos for each step including some stats and capabilities of each machine you use. I think there is a lot to learn from your experience.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2016, 10:43:52 am by slicendice »
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2017, 05:36:51 am »
I reviewed my insurance policy today - fully covered!

Also, I realized I did not explain the reason I nicknamed the room 'factory 400' - it refers the the square footage. The room is 20 feet x 20 feet.

I think I will skip tutorials and such and consider making videos specifically concerning the challenges of ultra-light manufacturing effort. The industry is either 'Hobby' or 'Industrial' and small manufacturing is in purgatory. The Hobby equipment and techniques are too weak for professional use and the 'proper' industrial solutions are generally way too much money/capability/size for low volume work.

I have designed a lot of special tools and techniques to overcome that reality. Like many, I have also scoured the bowels of eBay looking for gear that was amazing in 1995 and now it is available super cheap. So much of what I have experienced and learned (the hard way) is not really covered on YouTube or a forum. Seems like it might have an audience.

One example:
I needed a vacuum system for my pick and place machine. The finished industrial options were very easy and complete, but out of financial reach. The super cheap eBay pumps seemed to dicey to fiddle with. I ended up spending a week custom building a vacuum system that can run the P&P, general purpose pickup tools, and a urethane molding tool I built to do wire over-molding. Very reliable, high-performance, and easy to service when needed.

There is a learning experience around every corner.
Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 

Online BravoV

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2017, 06:31:21 am »
Carlos, thanks for sharing, really inspiring.  :-+

Interested on how do you tackle/prepare for fire threat/hazard ? Alarm ? Fire extinguisher & etc ?

Offline richardlawson1489

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2017, 07:23:26 am »
Hi Carlos, That is a great video. That inspire me to do something for my business even. All the best for your success and new small online factory.
 

Offline slicendice

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2017, 08:44:18 am »
I am also interested in how you will solve all the safety issues. the factory is in your garage after all. And one can never be too careful when it comes to safety. :-)
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2017, 07:23:25 pm »
At this point the primary fire safety protocol is made up of two manual extinguishers. I also have very few flammable chemicals - but enough to cause a problem if they were ignited. The building is standalone but close enough to other structures to make an effort to truly minimize risk to a reasonable level. The laser machine is the most at-risk in the shop. The current one I have has never had a fire, but the previous two that I owned were damaged by fire from careless employees that did realize Acrylic is flammable. Exciting.

I would like to have some extinguishers that will not cause additional damage if they are called on. It would also be nice to consider a remotely activated bottle system so that I can focus on getting out and activate the suppression system from a safer place.

If I keep the the flammable liquids in a fire cabinet and use fire rate trash cans for all the alcohol and flux cleaner soaked Chem-Wipes - I should be reasonably safe. A typical garage probably has far more fire risk than this shop.
Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 

Offline slicendice

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2017, 07:38:49 pm »
That sounds really great!  :-+
 

Offline ChristopherN

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2017, 09:34:53 am »
The space looks great!

I'm using a building that is 120m2, or something like 1300ft2. Even that can be small if you have to do a lot of different steps and some work like milling wood or cutting aluminium profiles that produces a lot of dust.

Have you got separate storage for large parts like replacement pumps, aluminium profiles and so on?

I would recommend getting a large CO2 fire extinguisher (http://www.gloria.de/Documents/cf_10_20_30_50_v2.pdf in German, sorry). This one could be stored outside and has a 10 meter hose, that should be enough to reach into your place. It costs around 1k€.

Could you give me some details on the wire processing machine? I need custom stainless steel parts for an upcoming project.

 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2017, 05:23:51 pm »
The wire processing machine is design to cut and strip wires for harnesses. It is a Chinese, low quality imitation of machines that cost 8x more. For now, it is doing a reasonable job.

One day - I spent 12 hours straight manually cutting and stripping various color and gauge wires to complete a project. The next day, I purchased this. When I got it setup and did the same thing - it took about 20min to do the same thing. Amazing utility.
Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2017, 05:46:50 pm »
With the AC I would recommend getting an in ceiling split unit, and having some remote grilles to bring cool air to the far sides of the room, and put the unit near the entrance to the house so it can be serviced easily.  33000BTU will do with that size, and the ceiling as well would be better off with a layer of insulation on top. Put in a fresh air vent with a HEPA filter as well in the ceiling, near the garage door, to bring in filtered air as the laser blows the smoky air out.

Nice work area there, looks totally unlike a garage, but HP also started in one.
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2017, 11:38:28 pm »
We have a split-mini system on the adjacent room that is configured as an office. It has a VFD compressor and blower, super efficient and nearly silent. I got a quote to expand that system which was $4-5k. I needed money for shop equipment pretty bad so I got the 'portable' dual hose unit that was only $500 and is passable for the moment but not a long term solution by any means. It is quite loud and cannot really cool the room if it is already hot. I have to have it running in the AM before it gets hot to have a chance of getting through the day.

I also have an air separate air filtration system, but will soon replace it with 2 newer ones. Those should keep the air moving in all areas. It is really dry in my area and dust is a real problem. The air filters will be running 24/7 to keep it reasonably clean. O top of that, I keep covers on all the occasional use things like the Pick and Place machine, laser, etc to keep them clean. Dust and PCB assembly are not friends.



Factory400 - the worlds smallest factory. https://www.youtube.com/c/Factory400
 
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Offline ez24

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2017, 01:55:16 am »
Nice PM sent
YouTube and Website Electronic Resources ------>  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/other-blog-specific/a/msg1341166/#msg1341166
 

Offline Spitruzzello

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Re: The worlds smallest factory is taking shape
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2017, 02:46:58 am »
Thanks for sharing, Carlos.  That's inspirational!  I'm fortunate enough to have a 100 sqm (1,000 sqr ft) office where I house my lab in one corner.  I'm now tempted to convert a chunk of it into a micro-factory like yours...
--- Sam
 


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