Manufacturing-as-a-Service is starting to gain momentum and has the potential to disrupt the world of EMS, promising greater control, agility and a frictionless purchasing process. Companies in this space have raised a good deal of interest from buyers and investors alike. One such company is MacroFab and we caught up with their CEO to learn more about their offering…
EMSNOW: Give us the elevator pitch for MacroFab.
MacroFab has built a digital platform for electronics manufacturing focused on mid-volume production, which is an $80B market in North America alone. Our customers gain a digital-first purchasing experience, similar to the way the rest of their life works today. Price quotes are delivered faster, contracts are executed online and all manufacturing data lives in our platform, so manufacturing truly becomes a digital resource.
We have a growing network of factory partners in the US, Canada and Mexico, allowing our platform to find a perfect match between the factory and our customers product designs and their technology needs. Our partners love the model – they gain a source of low overhead manufacturing jobs, allowing them to fully utilize their factory capacity and eliminate idle time.
EMSNOW: One of the biggest frustrations for customers of EMS is getting a quote quickly; you are promising instant prices online from Gerber files and BOMs – how do you do that? And is the software that does this one of your key differentiators?
Not just Gerbers and BOMs, we support 7 EDA formats natively, so most of our PBCA quotes can be produced in minutes. We have real-time links to the supply chain and give our customers a lot of information how much each part placement costs, so even before the order is placed, they can modify their BOM and save on assembly costs, including modeling the cost savings as their volumes increase – all online.
But the real magic is in simplifying more complex builds – how do you take a complex RFQ, with extensive assembly instructions, and turn it into a market driven price quote? Our latest release does just that and it puts the power of our platform in the hands of purchasing managers. These quotes aren’t instant, but they are very, very fast because our quoting platform automates so much of the process. Customers really don’t have to do anything – they just send us their RFQ and we take it from there.
EMSNOW: How do you calculate build time for a quotation?
We have done hundreds of thousands of quotes and processed many thousands of orders, so we have a corpus of data which allows our algorithms to be smart about how long build time takes. We have been able to accurately estimate placement time and costs for several years now, but we also have visibility into the factory capacity now and each time a job is taken by our one our partner factories, we get a little bit smarter about the amount of capacity there is in the market.
Every factory operator knows the frustration of feast and famine. Sometimes your floor runs hot, sometimes it’s cold. We are very well positioned to solve this problem, which turns factory capacity into a liquid asset. The jobs naturally flow to best possible factories for our customers, so both the demand and supply side win.
EMSNOW: You talk about short lead times, what are the restrictions for a ten-day build?
When we quote 10-day prototype turns, we don’t play games. It’s from the moment of order to the day it leaves our dock, and there are limits to type and number of placements. But shorter lead times are inherent to everything we do.
We find that people focus too much on how long it takes the factory to build a board, when we should all really be focused on making better decisions. We have had engineers use the information provided by our platform to eliminate several iterations of their design. And we have had production runs where a simple change to a widely available substitute part makes a ton of difference in the lead time. This is what the industry has really been lacking – real time information which helps you make better decisions. If you’re getting a PDF quote, you’re not making any decisions other than choosing the lowest price. The real question people should be asking themselves is – how long will it take me to get to market, and our platform gets products to market and ramped up to production scale faster.
That’s why I think we’re really just scratching the surface of what software can do in this industry. Where is the Airbnb or WeWork for manufacturing? MacroFab is building it.
EMSNOW: In your announcement, you talk about Elastic Factory Capacity, what is that?
…Part Two of this interview will publish on Wednesday.
About the author: Misha Govshteyn is the Chief Executive Officer and serves on the Board of Directors at MacroFab, the first digital marketplace for electronics manufacturing. Prior to MacroFab, Misha co-founded and helped build Alert Logic into one of the largest SaaS companies in the cybersecurity industry. At Alert Logic, he served as founding CEO, CTO and Chief Strategy Officer, leading several R&D, security research and corporate development efforts. Under his leadership, Alert Logic became one of the earliest cloud security providers with thousands of customers in AWS, Azure and GCP. Over the years, he mentored several successful startups in the Techstars network, primarily focusing on product and go-to-market strategies.