Out of control!: Nintendo Switch controller suffers from manufacturing variation

Out of control!: Nintendo Switch controller suffers from manufacturing variation

Even before Nintendo Switch started shipping at the beginning of March, the left Joy-con was experiencing intermittent connectivity issues.  Antenna connectivity is always a tricky problem because there’s so many different things (mechanical, electrical, and software) that can affect antenna performance.  Nintendo has come out in the meantime and said that the issue was caused by “manufacturing variation” and has now been corrected.  Sam and I love a good failure analysis hunt, so we acquired a set of Joy-cons with this issue from a friend, and set about our investigation.

Learning, prioritization, and opportunities: CEO Anna Shedletsky featured on 20 Minute VC

Learning, prioritization, and opportunities: CEO Anna Shedletsky featured on 20 Minute VC

Today, as part of his Founder Friday series, Harry Stebbings interviews Anna on 20 Minute VC. Amongst other things, they discuss:

  • why Anna left the Apple Watch team to build Instrumental -- and what learnings she's applying from Apple to Instrumental
  • how she developed an entrepreneurial network from scratch (hint: free food)
  • her methodology for learning new things
  • a glimpse into what engineering at Instrumental is like
  • a bit of advice on fundraising

Take a listen to this tactical and compact podcast.

Cure your glue headaches with these best practices

Cure your glue headaches with these best practices

Say you’ve got two parts you need to fasten. Glue sounds like a great option, right? It’s strong, it fills in gaps and seems like the right fix. There’s just one problem: it’s an absolute nightmare to control. Glue can corrode materials, mar a product’s cosmetics or unexpectedly weaken, causing the product to fall apart. Engineering teams often aren’t aware of these dangers — and sometimes even when they are, they’re forced to use glue anyway.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to select, prepare and apply glue, and we’ll detail best practices for the gluing process.

Instrumental Spills the Beans on Taco Assembly

Instrumental Spills the Beans on Taco Assembly

Here at Instrumental, a core cultural value is our love of food. That’s why we’ve recently expanded our operations into the taco vertical. In this post, we’ll be spilling the beans on how Instrumental has improved the taco assembly line.

Fortune 500 company uses Instrumental to ship in time for Christmas

Fortune 500 company uses Instrumental to ship in time for Christmas

Missing a new product’s launch date is every hardware company’s nightmare -- from the executives to the engineers monitoring the assembly line. No matter how experienced the team you’ve assembled, there are bound to be issues that arise -- and having the best failure analysis tools can be the difference between salvaging a tough situation and missing Christmas.

To DOE or Not To DOE: The Do’s and Don’ts Of Troubleshooting Manufacturing Problems

To DOE or Not To DOE: The Do’s and Don’ts Of Troubleshooting Manufacturing Problems

A tech company was struggling to release its latest product. It had a big problem: the glass on its handheld device had an astronomically high failure rate in drop tests. Stumped, engineers initiated a series of experiments with different variables to isolate the cause of a problem, known as a DOE*. They mounted the glass with thicker adhesive, tested double-stick foam, and even tried a rigid glue. They attempted a several controlled experiments to make the the product either more rigid or more flexible. Nothing was working. With many thousands of units ready to be manufactured and costs mounting by the day, panic began to set in.

DOEs sound simple enough: run tests until you figure out the problem. But they can go horribly wrong, resulting in poor-quality products, cost overruns and shipment delays. Here’s Instrumental’s five-step DOE process, with our recommended do’s and don’ts for each step to help you avert disaster.

New features that will keep your team on the same page

New features that will keep your team on the same page

The Instrumental team has been hard at work staging a set of significant functionality upgrades that will roll out to our customers in the coming months.  We’re releasing the first of these upgrades today -- augmenting our customers’ ability to easily review and to analyze the data that Instrumental collects.

Inspection 101: Defining your measurement plan

Inspection 101: Defining your measurement plan

You’ve designed your part, built the CAD, and now need to kick it off for tooling. You’ve drafted your drawing and completed your tolerance stacks. But there’s one more key step: you need to formulate an inspection plan.

At it’s surface, this appears to be as simple as adding inspection bubbles to your dimensioned drawing. But underneath, there is important deliberation about what, how, and how often to measure each dimension critical to your product’s function, reliability, or cosmetic appearance. This is the data that you will rely on to prove the stability of your manufacturing process and to solve problems quickly if that process drifts

Tariffs may kill more U.S. manufacturing jobs than they save: And it might be a good thing

Tariffs may kill more U.S. manufacturing jobs than they save: And it might be a good thing

Regardless of whether you’re a proponent or not, automation is happening, and it’s happening fast.  China has adopted policies with the intention to become a global leader in automation.  What policies are the United States considering?  The ones making the most headlines these days are economic policies to tax imports -- with the intention of incentivizing the reshoring of manufacturing jobs.  

The question no one is asking is: what will those policies do to American manufacturing automation?

Find out what one day is worth with the Cost of Delay Calculator

Find out what one day is worth with the Cost of Delay Calculator

I spend a lot of my time these days speaking with engineers at companies that make things -- whether they are working at the brands doing the design work or at the factories doing the building.  I usually open the conversation with an icebreaker: “Have you ever seen a new product get delayed?”  Sometimes I get laughs, sometimes solemnity; overwhelmingly the answer is “all the time”.

What’s even more interesting is that most of these engineers acknowledge that these delays are expensive, but that they or their companies aren’t really doing much about it.

Cameras on the line aren't new, but here's why Instrumental stands out

Cameras on the line aren't new, but here's why Instrumental stands out

At Instrumental, we help our customers find and fix issues faster, saving weeks of development schedule slips or mass production delays. We do this by capturing high resolution images of every unit during assembly, and providing a seamless viewing experience from anywhere in the world. It’s this seamless connection to actionable data that makes the Instrumental system more valuable than traditional factory equipment.

That being said, we’re all engineers here. And when engineers are evaluating any new solution, they want to understand their options.

Serialize your units or be left without a trace

Serialize your units or be left without a trace

Traceability is a place where many companies cut corners in favor of the many other challenges involved in bringing a physical product to market, and they do so at great peril. The simplest (and most powerful!) form of traceability is assigning individual serial numbers to each individual unit, known as serialization.