There’s a little bit of news about what’s new with the Rev2 board design we posted about yesterday that we saved for today.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll remember the time last year when we had to make the decision to manufacture the Raspberry Pi in China. The Raspberry Pi is a British enterprise, and as well as improving things in the computing industry’s future here by educating kids, we wanted to improve things in the present too, by actually doing our manufacture here in the UK.
Last year, when nobody had heard of the Raspberry Pi, we had been unable to find a British manufacturer whose prices per unit (especially at a point where we were thinking of sales in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands you’re seeing now) would work for us, and who believed that the project would be enough of a success for them to risk line space for us. There was just no way to make the Raspberry Pi in the UK and keep the price at $25 for the Model A (which will be released before the end of the year at the promised price) and $35 for the Model B.
Happily, things change.
Back at the beginning of April, Eben and I paid a visit to Sony’s UK manufacturing plant in Pencoed, South Wales. Several meetings, a factory tour, a lot of phone calls, some PowerPoint and sandwiches, and an up-close-and-personal with a wave soldering machine later, we were able to introduce our manufacturing and distributing partners to Sony’s Welsh facility, where, as well as making Sony products, Sony’s team undertakes contract electronic manufacture (CEM). It’s an incredibly impressive affair; the quietest, pleasantest plant I’ve ever been in, all comfortable lighting, ergonomic workspaces, cool air and relaxed staff. Sony’s quality control system is legendary, their ability to manufacture fast and cleanly is superb, and they’ve already invested in adding PoP (Package on Package – the fiddly stuff where the Broadcom chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi is stacked beneath the RAM chip) hardware manufacture ability and expansion capability just for us. They’re also able to take on the huge task (currently undertaken by RS and Farnell) of ensuring the parts used are sourced ethically and to the highest ecological standards – every component has to pass standard compliance via Sony’s Green Management programme.
The upshot of all this? Element14/Premier Farnell have made the decision to move the bulk of their Raspberry Pi manufacture to South Wales. Moving manufacture like this is an enormous undertaking; from the start of the process, it’s taken us (especially Pete), Farnell and Sony nearly six months to get all our respective ducks in a row. The initial contract will see the Pencoed plant producing 30,000 Raspberry Pis a month, and creating around 30 new jobs.
How do you know if you’ve got a UK-made board? Easy. Look next to the power jack; you’ll see the words “Made in the UK”. We couldn’t be prouder.