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La due diligence technique

Technical due diligence to raise funds or invest in hardware

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La due diligence technique

The technical due diligence is an essential element when it comes to helping entrepreneurs to set up their project and constitute their minimum industrial strategy to justify their go to market; or investors, investment funds & business angels to qualify a hardware project for investment, whether in seed or C series.

It is an investigation and verification process that identifies, validates and assesses the risks and weaknesses of a project.  It translates the technical elements of the project into figures, from which a capital investment plan is then drawn up according to the project’s stakes.

At Kickmaker, we carry out due diligence assignments for funds that want to invest in hardware projects, or for hardware companies that want to raise funds and/or secure their project, mature it.

The due diligence that we perform is mainly a technical offer that allows us, via a 360-degree study, to validate or build an industrial roadmap that takes into account the risks inherent in the project and to validate a go to market and/or project organization. Kickmaker can then accompany you in the development of the project, of the product itself, by making use of the fine and specialized knowledge acquired on your project during the due diligence.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the points of vigilance that will be examined during a due diligence process:

Product’s design review

Review and evaluation of the existing product to assess the technical viability of the system, including :

  • product architecture,
  • schematics and blueprints,
  • the 3D design and the existing prototype,
  • hardware components (mechanical and electronic),
  • low-level software.

This will involve analysing systems, subsystems, critical functionalities and components.
And more generally, to evaluate the technical feasibility of the product, the complexity of the project, the coherence of the technical choices, the reality and the share of risk in the project & to build a “gap analysis” between the objectives & the maturity to date.
The founders must have a vision on the scale-up of the project and how to derise it as it goes along. It is possible to de-risk the project as early as the POC phase.

Methods, tools and documentation

Analysis of methods, tools and documentation :

  • What are the documents and how were they constructed?
  • Are the means of monitoring and organisation adapted to the project and the team? Are the employees aware of them, do they know how to use them?
  • What is the level of maturity of the documents? Are they adapted to the company’s size and the team?

DFX NRE & BOM (Design For X, Non Recurring Engineering et Bill Of Materials)

Relates to the study of :

  • delays and costs to switch from EVT to DVT and then to PVT
  • NRE costs (example: manufacturing a mold)
  • of the consolidated BOM draft

This is the stage of component sourcing, industrial partners and cost estimation (quotation and bill of materials).
In order to embark on a hardware project, you have to do it seriously and be fully aware of the difficulty, without it being a handicap.
Even if only to develop a POC the costs are much higher than the POC in software. These costs are exponential for MVPs, preseries etc….

Pre-selection of manufacturers, location and risk assessment

The objective here is to establish a shortlist of EMS*, potential suppliers, investigate localization possibilities and assess the overall risks of manufacturing.

*EMS = “companies that provide contract manufacturing services for electronic products: printed circuit boards (PCBs), PCBA (printed circuit board assembly, sub-assemblies)”.

We’re also looking at the partners in the project, what their scopes of intervention are and how they’re going to impact the way we work.

It is essential to choose the right partners. Your partners will need to have a good knowledges of existing technologies in your product speciality, industrialisation methods and processes, suppliers of technological solutions, normative and regulatory constraints, estimation of the different costs for industrialisation, service providers & partners for product industrialisation.

In the case of a fund raising, and in the same way that an investment fund will scrupulously choose a project on which it wishes to invest, hardware companies must also choose a fund that has not only a financial partner but also a partner capable of guiding and supporting them throughout the industrialisation process from product production to shipping and distribution.

Supply chain et logistic

It’s all about:

  • Studying the constraints of the supply chain and proposing the best solution according to the localization strategy.
  • Advise on customs denominations and general logistics issues related to production and delivery to end customers in France and other selected potential countries (should be limited to a reasonable number).

In summary, the due diligence conducted by Kickmaker allows to de-risk and mature hardware projects, to build an industrial roadmap taking into account the risks inherent to the project, to translate the technical elements of the project into figures in order to build a capital investment plan according to the stakes of the project, to source and qualify the best components and industrial partners.

This due diligence is particularly recommended to companies wishing to consolidate their project, to investment funds & business Angell wishing to acquire or invest in a company.

le design chez Kickmaker

Design at Kickmaker, a technical approach to design

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le design chez Kickmaker

Design at Kickmaker is a technical design activity, according to the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the term (design=conception), the aim being to determine the homogeneous structure of a product in order to resolve all the industrial constraints associated with it, taking into account the technical, economic, ergonomic and functional constraints.

We do not do industrial design as such, but work in close collaboration with design agencies such as Elium or OVA. Nevertheless, on certain occasions, we can be a source of design proposals.

A tripartite product creation process

The process of creating a product is a tripartite creative process characterized by a large, multi-faceted discussion involving Kickmaker, the client and the design agency.
In most cases, the client consults first with a design agency and then with its industrial partners. We only act as a second point of contact.

The client therefore contacts the designers who define the external appearance of the product, the first functionalities and provide us with the first drawings, or 3D files representing essentially the external surfaces.
Then the exchanges begin. We take note of their proposals, study them and determine what is feasible or not according to the technical possibilities, the adequacy with the expected functionalities, the budgetary constraints, and then send our comments in turn.

Taking these comments into account, the designers make new proposals, the client selects one, we retrieve it and then start working on it to make an industrializable model. We start from technical specifications. We integrate from the beginning all the ergonomic and usage constraints of the product. We exchange with the client, looking for the most exhaustive information possible, putting him face to face with his product in concrete use cases, and we try to define everything that is not industrial and that is not purely engineering.

Then, we invite mechanical, electronic, mechatronic teams to floor on the subject. We formalize the design concepts by 3D modeling which allows us to obtain perspective representations of the designed products and to describe their uses. We think about the choice of materials according to technical constraints, the management of large assemblies, the industrialization process, the control of production costs as well as the cost price, and the future industrial partners who will be able to produce the object.

As an industrialist, we correlate the aesthetic and practical dimension and the “manufacturability” of the product. Our first role is to accompany design agencies in the maturation of their product.
Once the industrialisable model has been produced and sent to the design agency, the roles are reversed and it is they who give us feedback. We enter a phase of fine finishing touches.
This tripartite creation process is a journey marked by negotiations between aesthetics, use, ergonomics, functionality and industrial feasibility. The result is a compromise between the different stakeholders.

Friction points: a design too far removed from industrial constraints

Agencies are sometimes too far removed from the problems and industrial constraints of product creation. They imagine products that are difficult to conceive industrially. In this case, we take over the design.

Some agencies, on the contrary, carry out in-depth work, for example on structural strength, assembly, man/machine interfaces, and then facilitate exchanges between the various protagonists (them, us and the client).
They know, for example, that the realisation of such a volume involves splitting it into several parts.
Industrial design-oriented design agencies with experience and who already work with design offices have a better understanding of industrial constraints (e.g. geometric compatibility with materials). They provide more advanced preliminary work, which takes into account production issues.

Constraints can be of several types :
– space constraints: while electronics is more modular, constraints crystallize at the level of mechanical mechanisms and batteries. The technological limit sometimes constrains the dimensions of the object.
– manufacturing constraints: the product must be mouldable, demouldable. The large smooth surfaces often desired by agencies are complicated to achieve. It is then necessary to think about the location of the parting lines.
– material constraints: solidity, rendering, special characteristics (transparency), biocompatibility, eco-design…

Kickmaker’s micro-factory

Thanks to the micro-factory dedicated to the assembly of high-tech products that we have named KAL for Kickmaker Assembly Line, we prototype, iterate, test many shapes and materials. We offer ourselves the means to be quite reactive. Kickmaker engineers have a big maker component, a more open vision than a classical engineer with multiple skills. We don’t just run a specification file, but we look for innovation and optimization. In many cases, we go beyond classical engineering because we work on many innovative projects that require research into processes, materials, technologies, industrial partners. We have a pool of talents who know how to do things themselves, with a design approach. We can start to test a design with 3D printers, mechanical properties (clips, screw drums, interlocking) or aesthetic rendering in terms of materials: moving from all plastic to bio-sourced products for example, or using our extensive network of suppliers and prototypists. Thanks to KAL, we can make small-series semi-finished products or functional finished products with the materials, as well as assembly lines, assembly line setups, pre-certification tests.

Industrialization question Kickmaker

What do I have to provide to the industrialist (Kickmaker) to get a quotation?

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Industrialization question Kickmaker

At Kickmaker, we consider projects on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, some general advice can be applied.

1/ The more input data you provide, the more precise our quotation will be

All documents created by the project leaders are useful to us:

– Client brief
– Expected delivery
– Specifications or PRD (to find out more about PRD), with requirements by profession (at best)
TRL (Technology Readiness Level)/MRL (Manufacturing Readiness Level) document. It is interesting for a project leader to be able to evaluate his project on a TRL scale and therefore to know the level of mastery of the technology of his project (to measure the level of risk/unknown of the project). The MRL will allow to evaluate the level of maturity (PoC vs. Functional Prototype).
– BOM (Bill Of Materials) -> to find out more: everything you always wanted to know about BOM
3D design rendering
– Functional prototype

Each document provided will confirm the assessment of TRL and MRL and thus define the remaining loads and the level of risk associated with them.

We can propose a quotation with little input data, but it will still be very cost effective.

2/ We study each quotation on a case-by-case basis and each quotation is co-constructed with the client.

Each project is unique, so no generalizations can be made. Moreover, we do not operate in client mode but in project mode. If a client presents us with several projects, each project will be treated independently of the others (or pooled by technical issues if it makes sense). That’s why it takes a lot of time to make a quote, and the less input data there is, the more Kickmaker will be forced to take some margin to control the risk.

We advise startups to make a first prototype on their own, to advance on their market studies and requirements specifications and to contact us for auditing, budget advisory or when the functional prototype is ready to be optimized for production.

Each quotation is co-constructed with the customer, and is the result of a discussion that takes into account the project requirements up to the Quality/Cost/Delivery compromise.

3/ We do not work with fixed specifications

We know how difficult it is for a project leader to define the specifications and to build his specifications or a PRD. In a development process, in a classic design office, a set of specifications is established at the beginning of the project and each modification leads to an amendment to the contract. At Kickmaker we know that a project cannot be completely defined from the beginning without restricting innovation. We therefore work agile and try as much as possible to evolve with the client’s needs within a constant load (so a new need that would have little or no impact on the project will not result in an amendment while a major change will be discussed). Kickmaker always proposes choices to the client by measuring the pros & cons of each and their impact on the project. The client remains the sole decision-maker.

 

BOM bill of materials nomenclature

All you ever wanted to know about the BOM (Bill Of Materials)

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A BOM (for Bill of Materials, also known as a nomenclature in France) is an exhaustive list of all the components of a product, from the simple screw through the electronic components to the parts that make up the packaging. It is your shopping list for the creation of your product. It gathers all kinds of information and is used by various people involved in the project (design and engineering, document control, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, subcontractors, etc.). It is possible to indicate assemblies and sub-assemblies, but this is not systematic.

BOM or bill of material = document/list that gathers all the elements required to manufacture a product (components, assemblies or raw materials used).

What is the purpose of a BOM?

The BOM has a leading role in hardware project management. It allows to list all the parts needed to manufacture a product, but also to manage the procurement schedules, suppliers and obtain the cost of the final product.

If you outsource manufacturing activities, it is particularly important to create an accurate, rigorously revised and up-to-date BOM every time it is handed over to a manufacturer or supplier, otherwise you can expect some delivery delays.

How to create a BOM?

A good BOM is above all a complete BOM (of course) but also a BOM that you can apprehend from several angles. You will thus realize it in the form of a spreadsheet which will allow you to have a global view of the project oriented rather orders and quantities & in the form of a tree structure which will allow you to have a vision of the project by subsets. At Kickmaker, the tree structure is used for the design of the product assembly in 3D.

If you decide to use only the tree structure for your BOM, the risk is that you will end up with several names for the same part if it is used in several sub-assemblies. It is best to avoid creating duplicates as much as possible.

Good practice: make sure to correctly link the parts between the BOM and the 3D design (mech oriented + elec oriented = hardware) by using a correct and universal naming for the BOM and the parts tree.

What should be in the BOM?

So the BOM groups together all the elements required to manufacture a product. Each component, sub-assembly and raw material is identified thanks to a product code common to everyone (general codification and not specific to the project) & each product variant will have to be identified by a specific product code.

You can include several elements in your BOM:

BOM level -assign to each part or assembly a number to indicate its place in the BOM hierarchy. This allows anyone with a good understanding of the BOM structure to decipher it quickly.

Reference – assign each part or assembly a reference for quicker identification.

Part’s name – save a unique name for each part or assembly. This will help you identify them more easily.

Stagerevision or index of the part which allows a better management of the supplier relationship and the following of the evolutions of the part.

-Description – provide a detailed description of each part that will help you to distinguish between similar parts and more easily identify specific parts. Often the description is in the form of an image.

-Quantity – record the number of parts to be used in each assembly or sub-assembly to help guide purchasing and manufacturing decisions and activities.

-Type of procurement – specify how each part is purchased or manufactured (i.e. mass or custom-made) in order to improve the efficiency of manufacturing, planning and procurement activities.

-Reference Indicators – if your product contains printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA), you must include in your bill of materials (BOM) reference indicators that detail the location of the part on the board. Entering this information in the bill of materials can save you time and help you avoid confusion later.

-BOM notes – Allow everyone who interacts with your BOM to leave notes on the page.

You will also include in your BOM consumables such as screws, glues, tape or foams.

Concerning the 3D files attached to your BOM such as technical drawings or definition drawings (which are moreover linked to the BOM -> the part’s name on the drawing depends on the part’s name in the BOM), you must keep them in the same folder and associate these specific files to the BOM elements.


Versioning your BOM

Your BOM will undergo several modifications during product design. To make sure you keep track of these iterations, you will need to version the BOM and keep a written record of the different versions.

Thanks to Stéphane.T, Damien.M, Antoine.J & Quentin.D for their advice and feedback.
Want to know more about industrialiation? Read our quick introduction article

BOM bill of materials nomenclature
PRD Product requirement document Kickmaker

PRD : Product Requirement Document

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The PRD is one of the most important documents that a project manager must write and update with his team. It defines the value and purpose of a product and should enable the product development team to understand the product’s capabilities, functionality and features in sufficient detail. The document should evolve as the product development iterations progress.
It is also used to provide all members of an organization with the same level of knowledge about how the product works and thus exclude misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Engineers use it to implement the function as needed, sales teams to write documents and sales pitches, and management to have a global view of the project.

 

PRD versus MRD

Be careful not to confuse the PRD and the MRD (Market Requirement Document), which is written upstream and allows the definition of customer needs, contains functional requirements and serves as a basis for drafting the PRD, whereas the PRD lists the technical and functional specifications of the project. The MRD is the highest level of marketing analysis. It deals with issues such as customer requirements, market, competition and price.

PRD versus Spec

As a general rule, where there is both a FDP and a specification document, the FDP is used to express high-level technical solutions. It is at the borderline between the functional and the technical and includes marketing as a stakeholder in its drafting; while the specs document contains the technical answers on the implementation of the solutions.

PRD’s redaction

The PRD redaction must follow a top-down approach that starts with the overall vision of the project. It is necessary to question all the actors involved: the technique, the production, the method function, the marketing… In order to formalize the functionalities of the product right from the start, to anticipate the development costs and to supervise the progress of the project. A well-defined PRD also includes details on how the end user will interact with the functionality, and what that functionality will look like. It is a deliverable of the feasibility phase that is intended to be fixed, but modifications can be made throughout the product development process using ECR (Engineering Change Request). The FDP will therefore be versioned during the different phases.

What PRD must contains?

– Goals: explain why you are building this product.
– Characteristics: for each element, you must include at least a description, an objective and a use case. Additional details may be useful or necessary depending on the complexity of the element.
– User flow: Include schematics and mock-ups to help engineers understand the product and how functionality should be implemented.
– System and environment requirements
– Assumptions, Constraints and Dependencies: List what is expected from users, the limitations that must be taken into account for implementation, and the external elements necessary for the final solution to be functional.

Plan (exemple):

1- General information about the project

Goals
Planning
Roles and Responsibilities

2- Overview

Feature Listing
Basic use
User flow

3- Functional specifications (operational requirements)

4- Production, industrialization and quality assurance

Packaging
Calibration and production line testing
Environmental constraints
Factory Supply
Compliance
Product labelling and marking requirements
Industrial process

Il n’existe pas de vérité établie sur le PRD, comment il doit être rédigé et ce qu’il doit contenir. Chacun fait un peu à sa manière et ce que nous vous proposons en une.

Product requirements Kickmaker
industrialisation de produits high-tech

Introduction to the industrialization of a high-tech product

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It is often complicated when starting a hardware project or the ideation of a hardware project, whether you are an investor or advisor to startups, or simply curious, to find clear information about the industrialization of a high-tech product. This is what we will try to do in an introductory, concise and non-detailed way in this article.

méthode d'industrialisation de produit high-tech

As explained in the previous article, industrialization is a process that must be robust, reliable, reproducible and repeatable and must allow a functional prototype to become a manufacturable product. The verb “industrialize” means to produce or exploit, using industrial methods.

There are, as always, several methods, but the one we will talk about today and recommend to you is composed of several iterative and successively carried out steps, called EVT DVT PVT and designating the different levels of maturity of the system to be manufactured and the different stages of the manufacturing process. Industrialization starts after the POCs for Proof Of Concept (feasibility of functions) and sometimes continues even after delivery via continuous improvement processes.

evt-dvt-pvt-process-industrialisation-kickmaker-hightech

EVT

EVT means Engineering Verification / Validation & testing

-> This is the validation stage of the technical solutions.

The EVT combines “looks like” and “works like” prototypes in a single demonstrator, and with temporary parts: dupli silicone moulds, or soft tooling parts printed in 3D, PCBA prototype…
The EVT is used to verify that the prototype works with all the functionalities defined in the PRD and that the design meets the purpose of the object. It is necessary to make sure that the function has not been misused.

Quantities of EVT prototypes: they depend on the complexity of the product and the cost of the bill of material (BOM) (3 to 10)

DVT

DVT means Design Verification / validation & testing

-> This is the product validation step.

The DVT phase is started when it is certain that the design will work. The 3D and 2D plans are completed, the materials and a test plan are defined. The DVT product is intended to be a final production design configuration, with components from the production process (final tools/moulds). The design is tested with real parts, with real dimensions and with materials that are close to the final materials.

For this purpose, the product is manufactured in a limited number of copies and these copies undergo a battery of tests (drop test, heat, wear…). It is essential to ensure that the product will meet cosmetic (appearance) and environmental requirements.

This stage is also very much linked to certifications and contact with suppliers.

In short, we assemble, test, iterate until the design is suitable. At the end of the DVT, a validation document of all the tests must be done and the 3Ds must be frozen.

Quantities: they depend on the complexity of the product and the cost of the bill of material (BOM) (50 to 100)

PVT

PVT means Product – Production Verification / Validation & Testing

-> This is the validation step of the production line (pre-series -> first run) :

The PVT step is the last construction of the product. The manufactured units are supposed to be sold to customers, if they validate all the tests. The parts are close to those that will be used for the series, but still assembled by hand. In general, the PVT is the direct transition to the ramp-up and mass-production phase. A pilot production line must be established to check that there is no failure at any stage of the production line. The PVT phase validates the assembly process: process speed, quality, control points and test means, calibration tools and production monitoring, increase in worker skills, packaging, supply flow and logistics… Continuous improvement processes (PDCA, FMECA manufacturing, etc.) are set up and will enable future developments and optimisation. This phase is more related to operations than to development.

Quantities: they depend on the complexity of the product and the cost of the nomenclature (100 to 1000).

process d'industrialisation de produit high-tech

And after? Time for mass-production

Pazzi X Kickmaker: a winning collaboration on the world’s first pizzaiolo robot!

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Kickmaker had the chance to collaborate during months with Pazzi on the industrialization & maintenance of this ingenious robots sytem. Pazzi Pizza offers very good quality ingredients, fresh dough and stone oven bakes pizzas, aimed to be served in stopping-off places like universities or hospitals (breathe, it won’t replace local restaurants).Just take a look at our video 😉

angell bike kickmaker

Launch of the Angell bike

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Launch of the brand new electric bike : the Angell bike

Yesterday he had the chance to attend the launch press conference of the brand new Angell bike at the bridge under the bridge Alexander III. Kickmaker worked hard on this project, but it was really exciting and the result is our best reward.

The bike, launched by Marc Simoncini, founder of Meetic & Heroin bike and Jules Trecco, serial entrepreneur, integrates many technologies and features that make it the safest bike in the world, but also the sexiest of the moment.

If you want to know more about the project, read the press

Here : Les Echos https://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/tourisme-transport/le-fondateur-de-meetic-veut-revolutionner-le-velo-electrique-1149161

Here : BFM https://bfmbusiness.bfmtv.com/hightech/angell-le-smartbike-de-marc-simoncini-se-veut-l-iphone-du-velo-electrique-1809894.html

Here : RTL https://www.rtl.fr/actu/conso/marc-simoncini-presente-son-velo-electrique-angell-sur-rtl-7799510398

Here : Business insider https://www.businessinsider.fr/marc-simoncini-lance-angell-avec-lidee-que-le-velo-electrique-remplacera-bientot-la-voiture-en-ville/

Here : GQ https://www.gqmagazine.fr/lifestyle/article/marc-simoncini-presente-angell-la-tesla-des-velos-electriques

Here : L’obs https://www.nouvelobs.com/economie/20191119.OBS21282/avec-angell-marc-simoncini-entend-reinventer-le-velo-electrique.html

Here : Maddyness https://www.maddyness.com/2019/11/19/marc-simoncini-angell-smart-bike/

or just look at our pictures 🙂

Paul, meca engineer Lyon

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Paul, mechanical engineer

I discovered industrialization in my previous design office and I loved it!

+ Hello Paul, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I have a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in materials science.

I started at Carestream Dental in R&D and then went to Laos for a year to help my in-laws develop their business.
I then returned to France where I worked for a design office that designs and manufactures Nespresso coffee machines.

+ How did you find Kickmaker?

I was looking for a new adventure and Kickmaker Lyon was looking to develop its business. It was not just work but also the development of the KickLyon entity, that’s what I liked most.

+ Why did you choose the field of industrialization?

I started in R&D and was quickly frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with the product I was developing until the end. I discovered industrialization in my previous design office and I loved it!

+ Your assignments at Kickmaker?

I have already completed several missions:

– Eyelight: Design and DFX of a hands-free motorcycle kit
– Speedress: Development of a connected portable cloakroom
– Arcadrone: Design and DFX of an interactive drone
– Michelin: Development of a connected tire

+ The atmosphere at Kickmaker is?

Different! I had a very good feeling at the beginning and I am absolutely not disappointed. Everyone knows how to be both professional and cool. The atmosphere is always serious and relaxed.

+ How do you see yourself evolving?

I have already been able to evolve within Kickmaker as a project manager and I intend to continue to participate in the development of Kickmaker Lyon

+ Your passions?

I like tennis (but especially watching it 😊) and scuba diving.

Thank you Paul!

Ready to jump in?