July 31, 2014, 07:09:31 AM

Author Topic: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?  (Read 1621 times)

Marsu42

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With all this never heard of and exciting 7d2 news on CR </sarcasm> I wonder about one thing: How long does it take for Canon to assemble a "pre-production" camera body or lens -  and what is this anyway? Near production or held together by super glue? And are Canon parts so compatible they can just stick together all parts at will, or do the components need month of fine-tuning and adjustment to work?

Bottom line of the question is: Do the existence of "pre-production" models mean anything concerning a release, or are they as worthless as the patents that are posted on CR every once in a while?

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mackguyver

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2014, 04:19:55 PM »
Marsu, I have worked in product development for many years (including Panasonic for a spell) and there are typically four phases of product development - (1) model or mock up (2), prototype (3), pre-production model, and (4) final production model.  The model is usually in CAD and clay, and the prototype is usually hand made with existing parts from existing models along with new components.  There are typically numerous prototypes as various parts are completed (e.g. sensor, body, firmware, etc.).  Once that is approved, the most difficult and lengthy part begins, which is preparing a model for production.  This consists of testing of the prototypes, tooling for the parts, and most challenging, updates to the assembly line (or even construction of a new line) along with all of the QA/QC processes that have to be developed/modified.

A pre-production model is one that has "rolled" off the assembly line, but is still rough around the edges and ready for final testing and optimization.  At this point, it's about 90% or so of the final product, but some items like firmware, grips, branding (logos) and such may not be complete.  Pre-pro models also go through iterations and are frequently at 100% before manufacturing capacity and/or marketing campaigns are ready.

So, to answer your question, it depends on the final testing and how much the line has to be adjusted.  If the changes are minor, the product might come out right away, if they are major, it will be much longer.  Given Canon's extensive experience in DSLR manufacturing, I'm thinking this is a final "shake down" of the product from pros before the August announcement.  They are a good sign, unlike the patents that often registered simply to protect a design and never intended for manufacture.

That's probably WAY more than you wanted to know :)
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Marsu42

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2014, 04:33:36 PM »
Given Canon's extensive experience in DSLR manufacturing, I'm thinking this is a final "shake down" of the product from pros before the August announcement.

*If* they announce it - rumor is that they had several 7d2 test models around (just like the famed 24-70L/2.8-IS) but decided that there was no market for it, never mind the technical details.

Thanks a lot though for your detailed description of the industry, it's good to actually learn something on CR in between the dr and mp threads :-> ... so if I understand you correctly, you're saying that a "pre-production" camera model means that they already have the assembly set up and you cannot just do something like that for quick testing.

For some other industries it seems to be different, I remember computer electronics just being stuck together with glue and wire as pre-production for trade fairs, they set up the assembly line later on. nVidia is even famed for making a pre-production model out of wood :-> though this was a scam and non-working.

mackguyver

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2014, 04:44:06 PM »
Given Canon's extensive experience in DSLR manufacturing, I'm thinking this is a final "shake down" of the product from pros before the August announcement.

*If* they announce it - rumor is that they had several 7d2 test models around (just like the famed 24-70L/2.8-IS) but decided that there was no market for it, never mind the technical details.

Thanks a lot though for your detailed description of the industry, it's good to actually learn something on CR in between the dr and mp threads :-> ... so if I understand you correctly, you're saying that a "pre-production" camera model means that they already have the assembly set up and you cannot just do something like that for quick testing.

For some other industries it seems to be different, I remember computer electronics just being stuck together with glue and wire as pre-production for trade fairs, they set up the assembly line later on. nVidia is even famed for making a pre-production model out of wood :-> though this was a scam and non-working.
Yes, there is more to life than DR and MP :).  Well, maybe ;).  I guess it depends on the definition of pre-production, but in the consumer electronics world the examples you gave would be considered prototypes while a pre-production item like a camera would typically be nearly ready for mass production.  Or to put it in software terms, alpha vs. a final beta or gold release.
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Marsu42

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2014, 05:03:30 PM »
I guess it depends on the definition of pre-production, but in the consumer electronics world the examples you gave would be considered prototypes

Not necessarily - afaik esp. in the modern consumer electronics fewer and fewer ready-made parts are stuck together, the software (os, drivers, firmware) gets more important than wiring the hardware. That's why a graphics card glued together and assembled with loose wire can be called "pre-production" as building the final wiring and pcb is a no-brainer and there are no surprises to be expected.

I've never heard of anyone describing a Canon "pre-production" camera body anyway, i.e. how "final" it looks and behaves like. Those who could are probably bound by a nda, and the rest of us including the CR maintainer keeps poking in the dark.

dgatwood

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2014, 05:13:01 PM »
Every organization is different.  At my previous employer, the terms we used were:

1.  Early board-only mock-up (the board layout is done, but the final enclosure design hasn't been determined).  The PCBs are typically fabricated in-house in small quantities.

2.  EVT.  The circuit boards are good enough for initial board bring-up, but may still have serious hardware bugs.  Some products might even have more than one EVT build.  If the final enclosure is still not ready, these may be assembled inside the enclosure of a previous model of device.  PCBs might be fabricated on a one-off basis in-house, or might be mass-produced in a short run (not sure, and it almost certainly depends on the product and the company).

3.  DVT.  The circuit boards are good enough for general engineering use, but may still have minor bugs.  Some products have more than one DVT build.  By this point, the enclosure should be roughly final, give or take.  PCBs are probably mass-produced in a short run.

4.  PVT.  This stage is sometimes skipped if the DVT stage is good enough.  At this point, any remaining bugs are believed to be minor enough that they can be worked around in software/firmware.  All components are mass-produced using the same production equipment that will be used for final manufacturing (at least in theory).

5.  Final hardware, which may or may not be identical to the PVT builds.

Between each of these stages, they'll discover hardware bits that aren't quite right (wires crossed, traces too thin to make proper contact, missing vias through the board, etc.), at which point the boards get reworked with tiny wires soldered on between the pins of various chips.  By DVT, you should have few (if any) reworks.  By PVT, there shouldn't be any.

I'd expect a preproduction camera body to be an EVT-quality build, with reworks to fix improperly routed traces, an with some parts assembled by hand that should eventually be assembled by machine (possibly after making minor design or layout changes to make that possible), etc.  I'd expect the prototype to be built within an existing body, with the intent to swap out the button assembly and associated wiring harness in later builds after the body changes are complete.

If they don't use the body of an existing camera, then I would expect many of the parts to be one-off moulded plastic, created in small quantities in their design lab, rather than fabricated on an assembly line.  With that said, I'd be surprised if such hardware made it out of the lab.  But maybe Canon does things differently.  *shrugs*
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 05:14:32 PM by dgatwood »

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2014, 05:15:53 PM »
A Pre-Production model is one made from production parts but the firmware and any glitches found in real world testing will be fixed before it hits the market.
Its very possible that cameras are rolling down a production line  by the thousands, but its more likely that just a few dozens of  pre-production models were assembled.  This not only tests the camera, but it is also a validation of the tooling and assembly processes.  Everything needs to be tested before committing millions of dollars to full blown production.
Cameras sent to reviewers like DPR are Pre-Production, they are subject to last minute tweaks, so cannot be called production models even though the final production cameras may be identical.   Its almost certain that the firmware will be tweaked, its just so complex that there are always bugs.  When new models come oput by the thousands, and there are tens of thousands of users, many of whom are doing strange things like taking photos with lens caps on, then additional bugs will be found.  Its impossible to anticipate a Idiot, they are just too clever ;)

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2014, 05:15:53 PM »

Marsu42

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2014, 05:46:25 PM »
I'd expect the prototype to be built within an existing body, with the intent to swap out the button assembly and associated wiring harness in later builds after the body changes are complete.

Interesting thought - that would invalidate a lot of [CR1] "xyz pre-production model sighted"  as you cannot tell the old from the new model just by looking at it.

Dylan777

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2014, 08:38:17 PM »
Marsu, I have worked in product development for many years (including Panasonic for a spell) and there are typically four phases of product development - (1) model or mock up (2), prototype (3), pre-production model, and (4) final production model.  The model is usually in CAD and clay, and the prototype is usually hand made with existing parts from existing models along with new components.  There are typically numerous prototypes as various parts are completed (e.g. sensor, body, firmware, etc.).  Once that is approved, the most difficult and lengthy part begins, which is preparing a model for production.  This consists of testing of the prototypes, tooling for the parts, and most challenging, updates to the assembly line (or even construction of a new line) along with all of the QA/QC processes that have to be developed/modified.

A pre-production model is one that has "rolled" off the assembly line, but is still rough around the edges and ready for final testing and optimization.  At this point, it's about 90% or so of the final product, but some items like firmware, grips, branding (logos) and such may not be complete.  Pre-pro models also go through iterations and are frequently at 100% before manufacturing capacity and/or marketing campaigns are ready.

So, to answer your question, it depends on the final testing and how much the line has to be adjusted.  If the changes are minor, the product might come out right away, if they are major, it will be much longer.  Given Canon's extensive experience in DSLR manufacturing, I'm thinking this is a final "shake down" of the product from pros before the August announcement.  They are a good sign, unlike the patents that often registered simply to protect a design and never intended for manufacture.

That's probably WAY more than you wanted to know :)

The stages are design, prototype, beta, pilot, pre-production, then mass production.

Most field users are likely testing the product at pilot stage. These methods are currently in use at the company I'm with. Time line? it depends on how fast the engineers can debug all field issues. Also, how fast can purchasing dept. can get raw material with their suppliers.

Take a look at 1Dx announce date and release date
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 08:50:00 PM by Dylan777 »
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Tugela

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2014, 08:52:09 PM »
Marsu, I have worked in product development for many years (including Panasonic for a spell) and there are typically four phases of product development - (1) model or mock up (2), prototype (3), pre-production model, and (4) final production model.  The model is usually in CAD and clay, and the prototype is usually hand made with existing parts from existing models along with new components.  There are typically numerous prototypes as various parts are completed (e.g. sensor, body, firmware, etc.).  Once that is approved, the most difficult and lengthy part begins, which is preparing a model for production.  This consists of testing of the prototypes, tooling for the parts, and most challenging, updates to the assembly line (or even construction of a new line) along with all of the QA/QC processes that have to be developed/modified.

A pre-production model is one that has "rolled" off the assembly line, but is still rough around the edges and ready for final testing and optimization.  At this point, it's about 90% or so of the final product, but some items like firmware, grips, branding (logos) and such may not be complete.  Pre-pro models also go through iterations and are frequently at 100% before manufacturing capacity and/or marketing campaigns are ready.

So, to answer your question, it depends on the final testing and how much the line has to be adjusted.  If the changes are minor, the product might come out right away, if they are major, it will be much longer.  Given Canon's extensive experience in DSLR manufacturing, I'm thinking this is a final "shake down" of the product from pros before the August announcement.  They are a good sign, unlike the patents that often registered simply to protect a design and never intended for manufacture.

That's probably WAY more than you wanted to know :)

The stages are design, prototype, beta, pilot, pre-production, mass production, then recall.

Most field users are likely testing the product at pilot stage. These methods are currently in use at the company I'm with. Time line? it depends on how fast the engineers can debug all field issues. Also, how fast can purchasing dept. can get raw material with their suppliers.

Take a look at 1Dx announce date and release date

Added in the bolded bit for ya!! ;)

kaihp

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2014, 12:15:18 AM »
Its almost certain that the firmware will be tweaked, its just so complex that there are always bugs.  When new models come oput by the thousands, and there are tens of thousands of users, many of whom are doing strange things like taking photos with lens caps on, then additional bugs will be found.

Agreed. The basic axiom of More Users Find More Bugs still applies :)

Marsu42

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2014, 04:25:48 AM »
Take a look at 1Dx announce date and release date

Interesting trivia: According to the Canon ModelID the 1dx was already in the queue  for quite some time but they postponed in favor to the aps-h sensor. That is *if* Canon gives these numbers in a time-sequential manner when starting the design. The gaps might also indicate pre-production models they didn't release for one reason or another.  Just my speculation mind you.

Quote
0x80000261   = EOS 50D
0x80000269   = EOS-1D X
0x80000270   = EOS Rebel T2i / 550D / Kiss X4
0x80000281   = EOS-1D Mark IV
0x80000285   = EOS 5D Mark III
0x80000286   = EOS Rebel T3i / 600D / Kiss X5
0x80000287   = EOS 60D
0x80000288   = EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D / Kiss X50
0x80000301   = EOS Rebel T4i / 650D / Kiss X6i
0x80000302   = EOS 6D
0x80000324   = EOS-1D C
0x80000325   = EOS 70D
0x80000326   = EOS Rebel T5i / 700D / Kiss X7i
0x80000327   = EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D / Kiss X70
0x80000331   = EOS M
0x80000346   = EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D / Kiss X7
0x80000355   = EOS M2


...from http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/TagNames/Canon.html#CanonModelID

lintoni

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2014, 07:50:08 AM »
Re Marsu's list above - are the gaps powershots, printers, etc.?

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2014, 07:50:08 AM »

Marsu42

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2014, 11:33:12 AM »
Re Marsu's list above - are the gaps powershots, printers, etc.?

Nope, powershots have completely different id prefixes, there are only  WFT-E2/E4 in between the eos models, but lots of numbers still unaccounted for - see the original list in the link I provided.

lintoni

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2014, 12:55:05 PM »
Aargh... missed the link. Anyway, Canon is not strictly using a sequential numbering by date system - EOS 40D is numbered before EOS 30D...

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Re: How long does it take to assemble a "preproduction" camera body?
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2014, 12:55:05 PM »