MF Case Study #013:

Kieren Timberlake

An award-winning architecture, planning and research firm based in Philadelphia.
With the MacroFab online manufacturing platform, KieranTimberlake found the electronics manufacturing specifications they were looking for.

Get to know the work:

Architecture firm, KieranTimberlake is recognized worldwide for its research-grounded approach to design for new structures, existing buildings, master plans, and building products. The firm designed small and affordable sensors that were deployed with wireless controllers in commercial buildings. These sensors allowed them to make design decisions about building systems such as active natural cooling, and context-aware temperature controls.

Assessment

When KieranTimberlake was developing new technology to understand the dynamic relationship between buildings, systems, and climate, they needed an electronics manufacturer that would provide quick turnaround production on small-order quantities so that they could iterate their technology at a pace that matched their team’s feedback loops.

Challenge

The firm’s research team follows an iterative design process throughout all of their projects, and attempting to simultaneously design and assemble electronic prototypes in-house was not practical. They needed a rapid prototyping solution that would compliment their iterative process, so they could get to a final working product faster.

Process

KieranTimberlake used our online platform to manage their orders, automatically tag metadata to each device manufactured, manage their inventory remotely, and through direct integration with our APIs, automate the deployment and tracking of every device they sent to their customers. This helped team leads know what devices were delivered to which customers.

Architects are accustomed to rapid design evolution – but it was challenging to work at the same rate with electronics. While working with MacroFab we were happy to discover an iterative capacity that aligned with our design process. — Eric Eisele, Prototype Engineer

Our Solution

With the MacroFab cloud-manufacturing platform, KieranTimberlake found the electronics manufacturing specifications they were looking for.

MacroFab’s cloud manufacturing platform gave them the ability to control the design process while quickly running multiple prototype programs at affordable prices. This freed them up to work on new designs rather than struggling to assemble and test small, complex devices.

MacroFab was an enabling force in in the process of proving out this product. They offered us the ability to create iterative prototypes at a justifiable price. — Eric Eisele, Prototype Engineer

Summary

Getting a new product through customer validation and early development cycles can be a time-consuming and costly venture with traditional manufacturers that are focused primarily on sourcing large-volume manufacturing. KieranTimberlake’s wireless sensor products are designed to come in a wide variety of configurations, combining custom electronics with off-the-shelf components and custom enclosures. For their products, several PCB designs were utilized in widely differing volumes. With the easy elastic production that MacroFab provides, the KieranTimberlake team was able to iterate on their designs and test the prototypes with little obstacles.

To meet the feature requirements of KieranTimberlake’s monitoring platform, they also needed to know in real-time which devices are deployed to which customers. Traditionally, this would require a large amount of manual labor on their part, and a dedicated operations staff to provision each new customer. However, with MacroFab, the team was able to add tags to each order and monitor all inventory online, in real-time.

A true cloud manufacturing platform enables more than just rapid and iterative manufacturing, but also the promise of expanding the capabilities and automation in any connected product in ways that many companies had only dreamed of before.  Device-level data integration from manufacturing to inventory, shipping, and deployment at the customer is the future of any connected product. We hope to continue working with KieranTimberlake as they develop integrated building products that can move the practice of architecture forward.

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