A lot has gone on at Walk With Path in the last few months, and we are delighted to now be at the other end of our manufacturing run, with 500 pairs of our device arriving in the UK in Mid-May. I took the lead as Project Manager for production, and had the chance to spend a number of weeks in China visiting our suppliers and setting up manufacturing with our factory.
China is a fascinating ecosystem when it comes to the topic of manufacturing. Entire regions of this vast country dedicate themselves almost entirely to serving this type of industry. One such area is Shenzhen, which is known as the electronics/hardware capital of the world. The population of Shenzhen has grown from 30,000 to over 10 million in the last 30 years, with more than 6 of this 10 million being migrant factory workers that fill the manufacturing facilities during the week, and travel home on weekends. The purpose of my visit in Shenzhen was to visit three of our suppliers and to inspect their facilities. Specifically, our aim in these visits was to build a relationship with our suppliers, and also to make sure their facilities and processes met our expectations. During some time off on the Sunday while I was there I visited the famous Huaqiangbei Area. This can only be described as the biggest toy store in the world for anyone who works with electronics. It’s possible to get a PCB manufactured, source all the components and have a pick and place machine populate the board, all in just a short few hours. This example is only one of the many facilities available in the area, and the ability to rapidly prototype like this is a very interesting proposition to start-ups, who have to work with limited R&D budgets and timeframes to survive in the long term.
Electronics market in China: Half of one floor of a market. There were 9 more floors of equal size in this building, with another 6 markets the same size surrounding this one.
After my brief visit to the south of China, a number of weeks were spent in the Shanghai area carrying out the main task of my visit, to setup and oversee our first production run with a factory we hadn’t previously worked with.
Establishing your production process with a manufacturer is a large task, detailing the specification of every small part and the assembly process as a whole. However, our hope now is that we are in position to execute larger runs of our product faster and more efficiently in the future. We went through multiple rounds of samples for our packaging, printed and moulded parts, all of which required numerous revisions to achieve our desired aesthetic. In doing so, we hope to deliver the best product we can to our future customers.
We expect to start sales of Path Finder imminently. If you know anyone with Parkinson’s who may benefit from Path Finder, please help us spread the word.