Interesting video of a manufacturing process

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Nokia (NOKA.NX) released an interesting short film of the manufacturing process for its Nokia N9 handsets.

You can watch it on Tudou here.

A number of aspects of the film fascinated me:

  • The amount of work that was done by CNC machines (the drill-type machines) rather than mouldings to create the polycarbonate body of the phone. It more noticeable given that the phone body is polycarbonate rather than metal and implied that Nokia didn’t want to invest much in tooling – hedging against commercial failure in the marketplace?
  • The line layout looked modular, implying that flexibility was more important than efficiency – again implying that there probably isn’t a blockbuster product expected?
  • The work was being done in western Europe, which would have been relatively expensive unskilled manual labour. Components came pre-assembled so a lot of high-value work was happening elsewhere and the factory shown just screwed things together. I expected the Nokia factory to have lots of automated soldering machines and ‘pick and place’ robots with the end screwdriver assembly happening somewhere cheaper. Pulling the parts together like this implies that Nokia is relying on a lot of off-the-shelf bits in its devices rather than taking advantage of scale like Apple does. There is possibly a distrust of foreign partners who would see the complete phone and use that knowledge to crank out shanzhai versions?