Manufacturing as a Service

Sep 26, 2017 · 5 min read
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On the 19th of August at Capital Square, Ikoyi we organized our sixth event. This edition focused on local manufacturing and had three speakers, each at the helm of a manufacturing outfit.

At 2pm and going on for about 4 hours, there were thrilling sessions one after the other and exchanges from all in attendance.

Ushering in the event was Temi Aiyelari of Hardware Lagos who welcomed all attendees and did a brief introduction of the speakers.

Our speakers were Ahmad Sadiq of Microscale Embedded, Akinwole Akinpelu of Stampar 3D, Jude Abalaka of Tranos Consulting, with the project showcase on rLoop by Tobi Oyinlola. To loosen the tension in the room, attendees were asked introduce themselves telling everyone their names, what they did and what they hoped to gain from the day’s event. This was swiftly followed by a brief recap of the last event by Hamza Fetuga also of Hardware Lagos.

Mr Ahmad Sadiq of Microscale Embedded went first, talking about PCB design for manufacturing. He spoke at length about his experiences, both good and bad in building PCBs for products in the past. He shared several lessons he had learnt over the years and other vital pointers for people who intended to venture into hardware. Some of the tips for cheaper PCB manufacturing he recommended were using cheaper chips, implementing sleep mode on your micro-controllers to conserve power and using off market enclosures to package the device.

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Ahmad Sadiq of Microscale Embedded taking questions

He argued that custom enclosures can be too pricey for devices that are not certain to sell high volumes. The Microscale Embedded chief went ahead to argue against the use of open source chips beyond the prototyping stage. Boards like the Rasbperry Pi and Arduino can play to one’s disadvantage when a huge part of their capabilities remain unused (wasted). As an alternative, he suggested the use of boards like Vocore and MediaTek which are low cost and expandable. He however mentioned that chips like that can be a slightly more difficult to program. For people who don’t have much expertise in circuit building and hardware programming, he proffered outsourcing.

Ahmad also mentioned that one has to carefully understand what the design constraints are before going ahead to choose components. For example where power consumption rate is important, ZigBee and RFID can be used in place of WiFi for wireless data transfer. After his session, questions around talent development and discovery in the hardware sector in Nigeria as well as the role of government in the development of hardware were also asked. He said his company usually has to train new entrants before they can be trust to work without supervision. This he said can be attributed to the deplorable state of education in the country. He lamented the government’s absence of sufficient support, funding and incentives for hardware development in Nigeria.

You can never lose out by putting money in tech because even if the company runs down, a lot of knowledge is gotten — Ahmad Sadiq

The next session was about an rising form of manufacturing gradually gaining global prominence. Founder of Stampar 3D, Akinwole Akinpelu spoke on 3D printing tips and tricks.

Akin gave a brief introduction of himself, talking about his educational and professional background. He then proceeded by going over the definition of 3D printing highlighting the differences between additive and subtractive manufacturing. At Stampar 3D, they work on projects broadly classified into: individual projects, industry, student projects, novelty/arts/souvenirs and small scale manufacturing. Further along in his talk, he explained the unique benefits additive manufacturing brings to the table. In his words,

Design for additive manufacturing will introduce a whole new way of designing and building with less materials, less processing, less assembly and no tooling. The products are more customizable, weigh less, perform better and can launch faster. On the business side, supply chain is shorter, inventory control is easier and businesses can be highly responsive to feedback — Akinwole Akinpelu

While all the above are undoubtable, Akin stated that the main unique challenge to the adoption of 3D printing locally is cost. He went ahead to explain this point arguing that Nigerians value monetary cost over the sentimental joy that can be derived from a product. As long as it works, we don’t care how it looks or feels!

One of the most exciting parts of his talk was the showcase of some 3D printed works he had done personally and for some customers. We were able to grab a few pictures of them!

The third and final speaker of the day, Tranos Consulting boss, Mr Jude Abalaka did a very brief talk on Manufacturing Preparation. Mr Abalaka has a wealth of managerial experience in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

Jude stated that unlike many people think, power wasn’t the biggest challenge in manufacturing in Nigeria. He said the power can be easily solved with good generators. However, what was more of a problem to the manufacturing sector was the supply chain. If the materials needed for manufacturing cannot be procured, transported and/or stored, how can any work be done at all? He also spoke a great deal about the processes involved in sheet metal manufacturing from laser/metal cutting to CNC turret punching, bending, joining, painting, assembly and finally packaging.

Like the other speakers, he also took questions and did justice to them.

The much awaited showcase of rLoop’s entry for the HyperLoop competition organized by Elon Musk. This presentation was led by Tobi Oyinlola, an embedded systems engineer who is on the Avionics team of rLoop. He was supported by another rLoop team member, Elochukwu Clarence, who is on the Mechanical/Manufacturing team.

They spoke about how the rLoop was formed from a thread on Reddit. From Reddit, a proper team was formed and a Slack was created for team members to interact. The beauty of the rLoop team is that it is completely distributed! Team members are from over 10 countries across North America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

The duo spoke introduced the idea of the Hyperloop and its underlying principles. They compared it to currently existing transport technology (like the Maglev speed trains and the Concord) in terms of cost, safety and speed. For the final stage of the Hyperloop competition they had to travel to the US. Their presentation had loads of pictures of their prototype, their teammates and notable events that took place at the finals. Tobi passionately spoke about the potential greatness that can be achieved when people collaborate and urged attendees to collaborate more and not be scared of things like “idea theft”.

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Attendees engrossed in the rLoop design talk!

Judith Okonkwo of Imisi3D joined us in announcing the first ever VR Hardware Challenge in Nigeria. More on that can be found here.

Our next event holds on November 18th and it promises to be lit! Save the date!

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