2017-12-11 3 min read


A new podcast episode! With Mo McBirney about manufacturing engineering and her experiences working at Tesla and Makerbot. Right on.

Next week I'm passing the reins to Drew Austin, an operations manager at Uber who writes about urban planning and logistics at the excellent Kneeling Bus. Welcome, Drew!

And, a note to anyone who has emailed me in the past few weeks: I'm in a bit of a backlog, and am sorry I haven't gotten back to you. Hoping to dig myself out soon!

Planning & Strategy.

  • A remarkably thorough analysis of the lifetime cost of ownership of a $5 security camera, which concludes that the driving factors are (and will likely remain) the costs of bandwidth, cloud storage, and cloud computing. "The big takeaway is that the promise of inexpensive cameras cannot be realized without smart semantic filtering in or near the camera. Cameras, especially monitoring cameras, need to make intelligent choices about whether anything interesting is happening in a time window."
  • Apparently TechShop's assets were sold before the company actually filed for bankruptcy; Adafruit interviewed one of the new owners.
  • A short profile of Prologis, the world's largest owner of industrial space and Amazon's biggest landlord.
  • A new California law requires more detailed labeling on cleaning products; Proctor & Gamble backed it.
  • Toyota's chairman explains part of their preference for hydrogen fuel cells (which Severin points out actually *are* electric vehicles) over battery-powered EVs. "No company will [be able to produce battery-powered EVs profitably]. Electric vehicles need around five times the battery capacity of hybrids. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid has around three times the typical capacity, and handling the cost increases involved there has been hard enough."

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection & Testing.

  • The iPhone 8 and X both contain two lasers - vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (which can be produced in 2-dimensional arrays and tested on-wafer, making them easier to manufacture than edge-emitting lasers), to be specific. One of Apple's suppliers, Finisar, recently acquired a 700k square foot plant, suggesting a scale-up that would put FaceID in all iPhones soon.
  • The MTA has now experienced at least three failures on its initial passenger tests for the new (Bombardier built) R179 trains. Bombardier's $600MM proposal beat out a joint Alstom/Kawasaki offer in 2012; they're now barred from bidding on an upcoming $3B contract.
  • It's old news by now, but as I just recently finished fulfilling a Kickstarter campaign it's something that's been on my mind: Kickstarter's 2015 fulfillment report. 9% of projects never ship rewards; the lowest risk is on projects in the $10-250K range.


Photos from the Technical University of Denmark's High Voltage Lab.

Read the full story

The rest of this post is for SOW Subscribers (free or paid) only. Sign up now to read the full story and get access to all subscriber-only posts.

Sign up now
Already have an account? Sign in
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Scope of Work.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.