Flextronics brings US manufacturing to the startup set
On the finish of the San Francisco Bay, within the middle of the city of Milpitas, sits a nondescript workplace park. The Flextronics’ campus is located in the midst of this sprawl surrounded by rows of parking areas and strips of manicured grass. It appears like some other set of buildings in some other industrial park in another metropolitan space in the USA. However its seemingly boring location is what makes this bland row of buildings within the San Jose suburb so intriguing. Flextronics is doing one thing that was unprecedented just some years in the past — it constructed a US-based mostly manufacturing unit that is manufacturing hardware for small corporations. A type of corporations is Recon.
Two years in the past, sports activities wearable firm Recon had an concept. It might convey its Snow2 HUD know-how to sun shades for runners and cyclists. The Recon Jet (launching at the moment) can be the Google Glass for athletes and the teaser video acquired individuals excited. Then it needed to construct it. The corporate has used a producing associate in Mexico for its earlier hardware. The partnership was fruitful, however the Jet was a brand new product and the staff thought that the thirteen-hour aircraft rides to Mexico and the language barrier might delay the lead as much as manufacturing. It was already into the prototyping part when CEO and co-founder Dan Eisenhardt met Flextronics President Mike Dennison at CES.
On the time, Flextronics was doing one thing to broaden its manufacturing portfolio. It had put aside a portion of the corporate’s Milpitas campus to assist domesticate the small, however rising wearables market. “Our concept was if we create this functionality on this infrastructure and organizational construction — on this case, it was about $15 million of funding — we will create the playground for these younger corporations to return in and actually, actually nurture their concepts into an actual product,” says Dennison. That playground is true in Silicon Valley’s yard giving each giant and small hardware companies the chance to prototype and manufacture their merchandise with out touring to China, Brazil or Mexico.
Google already took benefit of the campus’ proximity and know-the right way to deliver the Chromecast to market. In contrast to different tasks, the Chromecast was delivered to Flextronics earlier than a design had been finalized. They labored collectively to iterate the design and manufacturing till the unit was prepared for manufacturing. Flextronics took the teachings discovered throughout these 4 weeks and utilized them to its partnership with Recon and different hardware corporations.
Nevertheless, constructing a brand new product is not the identical as updating an present gadget. It is an ongoing course of that requires regularly constructing new prototypes. “Design it. Run it down the road. Check it. Play with it. Return and do it once more as many occasions as you possibly can, as cheaply as you’ll be able to,” says Dennison. Flextronics gives Recon the instruments, expertise and suppliers to get the Jet out the door faster than the normal path of working with factories in different nations. The on-website tooling and molding outlets have been used not just for the gadget, but in addition for the instruments getting used on the manufacturing line. The power’s one-cease-store strategy additionally helps scale back additional delays of the already delayed Jet.
Just like the Chromecast, the Jet would bear vital modifications earlier than precise manufacturing would start. It additionally needed to look good. Recon Director of Manufacturing Dominique Kwong famous, “It is eyewear; it is style; that is a part of the product.” Subsequently blemishes and slight variations within the shell shade have been unacceptable. Recon might give suppliers suggestions faster than when it was manufacturing out of Mexico. “For myself, for my employees, to have the ability to bounce on a aircraft and two hours later have the ability to make these selections is invaluable,” stated Kwong.
The hardware startup world is crammed with tales of founders dwelling subsequent to a Chinese language manufacturing unit for months at a time iterating on a design. They patiently wait to pump out a couple of prototypes between runs of bigger-quantity merchandise. Flextronics needs to be the one which ends that problem. However do not anticipate the producer to embrace each small firm with an concept for a brand new piece of hardware. Thus far, it is constructed solely 4 extremely safe confidential facilities for small companies to work on their prototypes with a devoted workforce. outfits are vetted on how far alongside the product is within the prototyping and design part and whether or not or not it matches with Flextronics. In different phrases, if it’ll promote.
And it is actually all about getting merchandise in shoppers’ arms. Flextronics provides these corporations the power to scale shortly as a result of they’re already in its system. If the Recon Jet turns into the subsequent GoPro or Pebble, manufacturing may be moved to the corporate’s manufacturing unit in Austin, Texas, and even abroad. It is a win-win for Flextronics. It will get to be on the forefront of an rising market and if a type of units hits the large time, it is primed for giant-time scale and large-time income.