The high sales figures for PV systems and heat pumps have led to an increasing demand for hardware to connect these and other energy devices in the home. Kiwigrid produces this hardware and software and had already produced as many Energy Managers as it did last year by the middle of this year. This demand is expected to continue to grow. In order to be well prepared for the rapidly growing volume of orders, we at Kiwigrid attach great importance to making the manufacturing process for our hardware products scalable and automated. To this end, our processes are designed for extensive scaling from the outset. In this blog, we explain how we monitor and optimize our manufacturing process with the help of the so-called Fabrication Service and why we at Kiwigrid have decided not to buy our hardware externally, but to take production into our own hands.
Unlike other hardware providers for energy management systems, we do not purchase ready-made hardware products from external vendors but commission the production of our hardware ourselves from trustworthy partners in Germany. This allows us to determine strictly which components are used for production. This partnership-based production enables us to manufacture innovative products on the one hand and rely on tried-and-tested parts on the other, which increases the safety and reliability of production. This approach also allows us to decide which components are used and where they come from. Even though a few essential details still come from global supply chains, these dependencies are being increasingly reduced at Kiwigrid. We aim to source semiconductors and other components primarily from Germany and Europe. On the one hand, this shortens transport routes and, on the other, makes it easier to trace the origin of the raw materials.
Hardware production is monitored via the cloud at Kiwigrid
Every hardware product Kiwigrid produces is directly uploaded into the cloud at the start of production. Each subsequent production step is then also documented there. For two years, Kiwigrid has been working with SOTEC , an international provider of digital solutions in IoT, machine learning, and cloud technology, on the cloud component responsible for this, known as the "Fabrication Service." Working closely with the Google Cloud team, SOTEC programmed the "Fabrication Service" for Kiwigrid as an application to automate the creation and management of production orders. This includes, among other things, the management of hardware-related data such as serial numbers, the storage of produced device characteristics, and the analysis of errors that have occurred. The main difference between the new cloud-based solution and the previously homegrown version is that the hardware manufacturing process is no longer documented on a local server but in the cloud. The software developed by SOTEC links the hardware produced by Kiwigrid to a digital twin in the cloud, so it is possible to automatically track how many products have been manufactured at any given time.
Automated processes enable fast and smooth scaling
By standardizing and automating the manufacturing process for our hardware products, we can provide our customers with reliable production in the long term, even with significantly increasing order volumes. Kiwigrid is, therefore, equipped to serve the growing market in the future. Together with our customers, we want to provide more and more homes with energy management systems and significantly advance the energy transition!
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