FireBoard Brings Up New Manufacturing Line
During a cool spring morning in March, the first Belger Cartage truck pulled up to our new location with the first delivery of equipment. Carefully backing up to the dock, the workers started to unload each of our new machines. This was an exciting moment for us as the idea of bringing our own manufacturing in-house was quickly becoming a reality.
Since that March morning, we’ve not only become proficient at running our production line but we’ve been working on fine tuning our factory operations and making our process more streamlined. Our story here is a brief overview as to how, when and why we decided to setup our own PCB assembly line.
In the world of electronics, most circuit boards are now fabricated and assembled overseas. (For reference, the assembly is the actual placement and soldering of components onto the circuit board, typically called a surface mount assembly line). At FireBoard, we have strived to build a more vertically integrated company and thus do most of our design work in-house. Since we started in 2015, we have been designing our own hardware but used an outside contract manufacturer for electronics assembly.
Although to many, setting up a surface mount assembly line would be an unusual step, for us it felt like a logical step forward. Our team at FireBoard is focused on building powerful, innovative and helpful products to solve simple problems. Our use of technology to solve these problems requires a careful mix of well designed hardware coupled with elegant and robust software.
“We have a special passion for hardware, and this felt like a natural step for us”, said Steven Briggeman, co-founder of FireBoard. Our new facility located southwest of Downtown Kansas City allows us to literally make our own circuit boards, which has numerous benefits, including the following:
- Reducing our lead-times from 8-weeks to 1-2 days
- Having better quality control
- The ability to rapidly build new prototypes
- Reducing costs especially as our volumes increase
- Refine the production and quality control process to keep our manufacturing operations efficient
With this in house expansion we’ve also expanded our workforce and created new opportunities for our employees. This also speeds up our development cycle for future products and accessories.
Our main placement machine is a Juki RS-1 which theoretically could place up to 42,000 components per hour. For us, this means we can easily take care of our current production demands while having extra capacity as our volume increases. We paired this with a G-Titan Stencil Printer and a used BTU Pyromax 8-zone reflow oven. One word to anyone who is considering equipment purchases: we’ve been happy with the Juki machines and would definitely recommend them to others.
As we continue to refine our manufacturing process, we’ll try to keep our readers up to date with any helpful stories on this blog.
Any questions regarding our SMT line or manufacturing operations can be directed towards firstname.lastname@example.org