First Resonance, a Los Angeles-based start-up with a Factory Operating System that hardware engineers trust for speed, collaboration, and traceability, unveiled its ion platform. Already in use by cutting-edge startups including Phase Four, Joby Aviation and Iron Ox, ion is built to meet the needs of next-generation hardware companies. ion replaces spreadsheets and outdated costly manufacturing and supply chain processes and tools with a platform that leverages machine learning, IoT, and advanced data analytics to support hardware companies working in a more rapid and iterative way than companies from previous generations.
Based in LA, the First Resonance team is made up of former engineers from SpaceX, NASA, Lexus, and other leading aerospace and automotive manufacturers. After experiencing bottlenecks created by trying to design and manufacture modern hardware products using standard manufacturing processes, the team set out to build a modern manufacturing intelligence platform to help hardware companies design and deliver products with the speed and efficiency needed to move these massive industries forward. The company’s ion Factory Operating System is addressing the needs of the manufacturing execution system market which is anticipated to grow to $14.9B by 2025. This figure is being rapidly accelerated given the massive shift in supply chains and manufacturing landscape brought on by COVID-19 and geopolitical tensions.
The struggle to build the next generation of hardware using methods of the past
Next-generation hardware manufacturers in fast-growing industries are in a race to get reliable products to market faster. But, unlike software development which has gained huge efficiencies in the past decade, hardware design and manufacturing processes haven’t changed in nearly a century. The problem is even more acute now, with startup manufacturers forced to figure out how to deliver hardware while their teams work from home and deal with broken supply chains caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
For most hardware manufacturers, design, manufacturing, test, quality, and operations engineers sit in different teams with different motivations. The traditional waterfall manufacturing process moves a product from one team to the next and often does not return to previous phases, even if it’s better for the product and customer. As made evident by recent failed aerospace launches and other disasters, trying to design and manufacture modern hardware products at startup speeds using current design/manufacturing processes can be catastrophic.
“Thanks to the core technology behind Phase Four’s radio frequency thruster, we are capable of mass manufacturing engines to meet the demand for the next era of space exploration. ion has proven to be the manufacturing platform to help us achieve those goals,” said Grant Dunaway, Lead Mechanical Systems Engineer at Phase Four.
“Companies like Tesla and SpaceX have introduced a whole new way to design and manufacture products that use data across phases of a product’s lifecycle to continually improve other phases of development. But emerging hardware startups have been forced to stick with outdated manufacturing processes or customize software platforms that were built for other industries,” said Karan Talati, co-founder, and CEO, First Resonance. “ion addresses the manufacturing problems I experienced first-hand when building SpaceX’s manufacturing and test automation systems and will help the next generation of hardware companies bring products to market faster, cheaper, and safer.”
Ion: Breaking down scalability walls with manufacturing intelligence
First Resonance’s ion Factory Operating System pairs workflows that manufacturers are also familiar with data science, machine learning, and flexible APIs to break down the barriers between design, manufacturing, and product delivery. By enabling a more collaborative and iterative approach to production scheduling, traceability, and procedures, engineers are able to move faster and continuously innovate on delivering better hardware. Unlike previous generations of manufacturing software, ion emphasizes flexibility and collaboration between both people and automated processes, including machinery, test equipment, and predictive data analysis.
ion leverages the most advanced data visualization and analytics platforms, including AWS Athena, to deliver real-time data to customers quickly and effectively. With powerful APIs that enable developers to automate repetitive actions, bring automation into any process, and write applications that connect ion to factory floor equipment and IoT devices, ion allows modern manufacturers to move faster.
“We invested in First Resonance because the founders Karan and Neal are uniquely qualified to build this company thanks to their experience at SpaceX and Uptake Technologies,” said Mikal Khoso, Associate, Wavemaker Partners. “The digitization of manufacturing is a long-overdue revolution in an industry full of outdated technology and methods. First Resonance is building the factory operating system for modern manufacturing, helping hardware companies build 21st-century products in a 21st-century fashion.”