MF Case Study #024:

Getting to Market Through Cost Benefit Analysis

MacroFab helped Somewear Labs understand and evaluate costs between two design options so they could quickly make the right business decision for their product launch.

Get to know the work:

Somewear Labs develops modern satellite communication tools. The Somewear Global Hotspot turns your phone into a satellite phone, so you always have reliable communication no matter where you are. It allows you to send and receive text messages; download weather reports; share your location and in case of emergency has an onboard SOS button.

Somewearlabs_Product3

Assessment

As Somewear Labs was finalizing their initial prototype and getting ready to move into production, they realized that they had an opportunity to improve the antenna performance which meant a totally new via design in their PCB. Not only did this discovery happen pretty late in the prototyping process, but they realized their new design was going to result in a big cost difference, not to mention delays in getting their product to market.

Challenge

The Somewear Labs team discovered that the new circuit boards were going to cost 2x-3x more than what their original design needed and they didn’t know of a PCB fabrication shop that could manufacture the new boards. Somewear Labs needed to vet the quality and capabilities of a new PCB fabrication shop, they needed to reconcile the cost difference and they also needed to determine if going with the new design was the best decision, moving forward.

Process

Because MacroFab has a large network of resources, we were able to recommend a new PCB fabrication shop that we knew would be able to handle Somewear Labs’ new design. Even though Somewear Labs had never used this supplier before, the trust they established with MacroFab through prototyping the first design gave them the confidence to move forward. MacroFab also helped by managing lead times and quality so Somewear Labs could get to market with as little delays as possible.

We started working with MacroFab very early on during the prototyping phase and that helped us out a lot to be able to move quickly to build prototypes, validate our designs, and then really jump into production planning and the higher volume manufacturing operation. — Alan Besquin, Co-Founder and CTO, Somewear Labs
somewear-labshotspot_onpack_snow

Our Solution

Both MacroFab’s team and platform helped Somewear Labs to make important business decisions and keep their files organized when redesigning their boards, respectively. The two teams worked together on cost optimization analysis and were able to determine that moving to the new design was best to move forward rather than making post-manufacturing modifications on the first design.

As Somewear Labs was going through design changes and iterations, they found that uploading and easily organizing their design files on MacroFab’s platform was extremely helpful. They were able to create labels for each design, which reduced confusion and made it much easier to keep quotes separated, rather than sending and receiving emails with different design versions as is traditionally done.  

Once the second design was ready to move into production, MacroFab managed every aspect of the supply chain, procurement, and logistics – something that would have been challenging for the small startup.

We chose to use MF because they were interested in working with us. We needed someone who could take us from 0 units to 1,000 and beyond. We trusted them and they saw the potential in our product. — Alan Besquin, Co-Founder and CTO, Somewear Labs

Summary

The decision to go with the new PCB design improved their product quality immensely, and even though it delayed their timeline, ultimately, it was the right decision. It was worthwhile to have a design that they fully trusted and gave Somewear Labs the best results from a product performance standpoint at the crucial launch stage.

Because MacroFab built a relationship with Somewear Labs early on in the prototyping process, it meant that we were familiar with their product and could help them evolve it and source the right partners to help them have the most successful launch possible.

Somewear Labs trusted our expertise because they knew that we have helped several companies get to market through our turnkey PCB assembly services. Our commitment, knowledge and resource base proved to be a huge help for Somewear Labs.

For Somewear Labs, the biggest benefits of working with MacroFab have been a direct line of communication, dedicated Account Management services, and being located in North America. Our customers can talk to anyone on our team that is directly working on their product, making it easy to get the answers they need. Customers like Somewear Labs know that if they speak with their Account Manager, they will receive the right answers vs. getting passed around from one department to another, which can be common with other contract manufacturers. Somewear Labs knows that the information they receive from MacroFab will be direct and quick, so they can make decisions to move forward. Somewear Labs also liked that we are located in North America, which makes it easier and more affordable to visit MacroFab in Houston or their other North American facilities.

Ready for better manufacturing?