CLA Series: AV Production Tip #1 – Begin the Production Planning Process Early

In the first episode of our series "7 Tips to Reliably Scale Autonomous Vehicle Production", Brandon highlights the significance of initiating the production planning process at an early stage. By outlining the key elements of an initial manufacturing strategy for autonomous mobility, Brandon emphasizes the crucial factors to be considered during early production planning and why it is so pivotal. Tune in to this episode and stay tuned for our other tips that will help you reliably scale autonomous vehicle production.

The following questions are addressed in this video:

  • When should production planning begin in AV manufacturing?
  • What should be considered during early production planning?
  • What aspects should an initial autonomous mobility manufacturing strategy include?
  • How does the APQP process apply to AV production planning?
  • Why is early production planning crucial for autonomous mobility?

Key themes include:

  • Design for Manufacturing
  • Design for Assembly
  • Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
  • Production Planning
  • Production Capacity Planning

Key Takeaways:

  • Once you have a proof of concept for your autonomous mobility product, prioritize production planning and ensure you inject manufacturing expertise and best practices early on.
  • It’s important to consider tooling, fixtures, space, labor, and other needs as early as you can in the autonomous vehicle production process.
  • AV quality should be strategic and scalable.
  • The longer you wait to focus on AV production planning, the more costly and challenging any changes to the process become.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to the Capital Light Assembly Podcast brought to you by Edison Manufacturing and Engineering. Edison is your contract manufacturing partner focused on the capital-efficient assembly of complex mobility and mobility-adjacent products that are not well suited for highly automated production. I’m Brandon Bartneck, vice president and general manager here at Edison, and you’re listening to part of a special series here focused on how to reliably scale the production of autonomous vehicles. So, how can you execute and scale that production? Building autonomous vehicles is part of our core business. It’s an area where we have a lot of experience and expertise. We’re using this series as a way to share some of that knowledge with anyone who’s going through this process, so I hope you enjoy it. There are seven tips total and seven episodes here, so check out the ones before and after this, and please enjoy!

The first topic here is to begin the production planning process early, earlier than you probably think you need to. So manufacturing is not a bolt-on solution. This is something that needs to be integrated into the design of the product. You need to plan for manufacturing, assembly, and production in the concept phase or right after the concept phase. So, once you have something that works and that you have a proof of concept, ideally, make sure that you're planning for production and you're injecting manufacturing expertise and best practices early on. So often we are coming working alongside our customers to just, and it's not crazy complex or time intensive, but it's just applying some manufacturing know-how and pointing out the obvious roadblocks of, you know, fastener head commonization, making sure you have access to all the bolts that you need, just making sure things come together in an intuitive and effective way when you get into scale production.

And so what we recommend is developing an initial manufacturing strategy early on and laying out things like preliminary tooling lists, fixture lists, equipment lists, documenting expected, like how many people do you think are going to need to build this thing at rate? How much space do you need? What might be the assembly steps you follow? What do you think the takt times might be? These all build on each other and interconnect. But then you can come to some conclusions or estimates, upfront estimates of how big this facility needs to be where you will execute production. And what type of key characteristics or requirements are there for that facility? And this is really, so ultimately, what we're doing here, if you're familiar with the APQP process from the automotive world, we're applying principles and even some of the specific actions from the APQP process into the design here. So, like an autonomous vehicle, it's a software-driven product, right? But the physical product is what brings us software to the world. You're producing a highly complex, safety-critical product at scale as you get into production, and you need to take these advanced quality planning steps seriously. You need to inject manufacturing know-how into them because it becomes increasingly costly and difficult to make corrections for quality issues or design inefficiencies or whatever it might be as you get later in the product development process. So, the key lesson here: begin your production planning process earlier than you think you need to.

Make sure to follow along with this series as we answer some of the following questions:

  • How can autonomous vehicles be built at scale?
  • How can AV companies bring their hardware products to the market?
  • How can common manufacturing mistakes be avoided?
  • How does automotive know-how and experience apply in the AV space?

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