Twice the Teslas in Half the Time
In 2006 I designed and manufactured the WIKISPEED modular car.
In 2010 team WIKISPEED produced the Scrum Build Server, a Scrum team with flexible tooling capable of compiling a wide variety of CAD designs, testing them, and deploying them as complete physical products.
In 2011 Tim Myer helped us refine our Test Driven Development practices to create modern CI and CD, continuous integration, and continuous deployment, in hardware, for the WIKISPEED Build Server. In 2011 Keith Boulac designed and helped us prototype the Shop in the Box, or shipping container micro-factory. This portable factory module has a known and stable input and output, and may be arranged with other micro-factories to create a modular factory for complex products. The advantages being it is very inexpensive to upgrade a module, refine a module, re-orient to update the flows of production, add parallel flows and hyperthreading, or even ship the entire factory module by module to a new location to enable agile manufacturing at scale.
In February 2016 I taught the world’s first Scrum in Hardware Train the Trainer class with Scrum Inc. We spoke about massively parallel concurrent manufacturing or structuring the factory floor like a hyperthreading CPU. We evaluated and validated the concepts hands-on during the class by manufacturing products in that model with 5 parallel workstreams using Scrum of Scrums.
In August I presented at the world’s first Scrum in Hardware conference on Work Density; measuring the velocity per cubic meter of a production facility to improve efficiency and performance in development, manufacturing, and all stages of delivery.
In September I watched the Tesla Shareholders meeting recording from May 2016, and was floored to see Elon talking about work density too. His concept was multiplying the volume of the factory by density by velocity. Similar to the measure I had been teaching my Scrum in Hardware trainers and coaches but not identical. It was obvious the most disruptive manufacturing company of our times was on the edge of Scrum in Hardware. So what did I have to learn and where could I help? Elon went on to say the fastest automotive manufacturers produce a vehicle very 15 seconds, which is a line speed of 5cm per second, which is the speed of a tortoise. He would like to get the production line to 1m per second, a slow walk, which would be an incredible 20x increase in speed. That June WIKISPEED had timed a public buildathon with Scrum Inc. and PTC where our build server factory created a car at an equivalent line speed of 60m per second. I knew I had a lot to learn from Tesla but I also knew I had some real value to share in return.
I could learn an enormous amount about production automation, investment and investor management, supply chain negotiation, and political negotiation for factory site setup and support. Likely that’s just 2% of the learning opportunity.
I could help with development speed and coordination, increased velocity through impediment removal, self-organizing teams to accommodate complexity, but most importantly modularity. The Tesla model S works as an example. It has 4 primary modules: The motor assembly, the battery pack, the software, and everything else. We see it in that the “everything else” hasn’t changed significantly in 7 years. The plastic front fascia cover has been updated, with a pace of innovation on this monolithic un-modular chunk similar to the development pace of all major automotive manufacturers. But that’s not the big win. The big win is the machine that builds the machine, the factory and even the machines that build the factory.
The factory, the build server, is limited by how fast we can deploy updates and enhancements to its flow and production capabilities. This means modularity and enables massively parallel concurrent production unlike the sequential single-threaded manufacturing used in most facilities now, or even feeder lines which are essentially a math co-processor for the single threaded assembly lines. Current best-in-world factories are i286 build servers, some with math co-processors.
Dear Tesla production, WIKISPEED has conducted simple tests to validate modular manufacturing. This has let us test many ideas quickly and cheaply. In the six years, we have been doing this, we have settled on a production flow process modeled after a modern core i7 CPU with multiple cores, onboard cache, and hyperthreading. This will give the world Twice the Teslas in half the time. Actually, 1,200x the Teslas if our recent buildathon experiments are even close to reality. But just building a factory along these principles would still be out of date in minutes. Modularity inside the factory floor is manufacturing agility. We do this through grid or other geometric patterns, each grid square owned by a self-organizing team of 4-5 people trained in aggressive Scrum (not the mamby-pamby non-accelerating “scrum” we see all over silicon valley and much of the world). Each grid square has the Input and Output labeled clearly, and the acceptance tests for their IO are automated if possible. The teams change the flow and negotiate IO changes during Scrum@Scale meetings every day for continuous improvement. It is currently the very fastest production and production improvement process we have seen anywhere, with the lowest defect rate, and highest employee engagement. Dear Tesla, if global climate change is reduced by adoption of your solar panels and vehicles and your products are not demand constrained, it would be environmentally responsible to Scrum your R&D, Development, and production, with modular facilities. Please allow me and the trainers and coaches I have trained help. You can reach me at Joe.Justice@ScrumInc.com.
Photo of some enthusiastic WIKISPEED team members just after working with Boeing’s Future of Flight museum for World Earth Day.
Joe Justice is the President of Scrum@Hardware at Scrum Inc., and the CEO of WIKISPEED Inc.
WIKISPEED is a registered road-legal automotive manufacturer with operations in 23 countries.
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