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How Xiaomi Ensures Quality Standards At Foxconn’s AP Facility
Xiaomi recently organized a visit to the Foxconn facility at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh on the occasion of World Quality Month. A bunch of journalists and people who review the company's devices got a chance to see what goes into manufacturing Xiaomi mobile devices at the Foxconn Technology Group's five-year old manufacturing plant in India.
We witnessed how Xiaomi ensures the quality of the company's most popular smartphones at every step of the production and assembly process. To our luck and due to the company's subtle way of promoting the recently launched Redmi Note series product, we were shown the assembly line of the Redmi Note 8 Pro. It is the handset that has managed to qualify as the top contender in our list of the best sub-15K smartphones in India.
65% Components Of Mobile Phones Are Sourced From Local Suppliers
We started with the raw materials warehouse at Foxconn's 40,000 square-foot Sri City facility. The warehouse shed stores 2,000 to 2,500 individual components of different Xiaomi devices including speaker units, charging ports, cases, PCBs, networking ICs, camera lenses, etc. These components account for 65% of the total components required to produce Xiaomi phones and are sourced from local suppliers across the country.
Xiaomi maintains a temperature of 28-degree Celsius inside the warehouse to store the components. The average daily high temperature in summers is above 35-degree Celsius in Sri City. Foxconn also takes tropical wet and dry climatic conditions of the region into account that can affect the stored components at the facility.
ISO Quality, Sampling & Manufacturing Standards Followed
There are two separate units at the warehouse with sophisticated machinery to check the quality of the sourced components. These individual parts go through manual quality testing before they are sent to the assembly lines for automated testing and assembling into a finished product. The manufacturing plant follows ISO 9001-2015 certification for the quality management system and sampling standard ISO 2859 to filter the functional components over the defected ones. The raw materials undergo IQC-based on ISO 2859 standard.
We were curious to know about the testing machines that evaluate the quality and functionality of the components that arrive at the Foxconn facility. Josh Fouglar, Foxconn's head of India operations did not give a clear answer to our question. However, he sounded convincing when he said that the company uses the machines of the same high-quality standards that are being used in Taiwan and other manufacturing plants across different locations.
Redmi Note 8 Pro- Most Popular Xiaomi Product Even At Foxconn’s Facility
We were quickly sent to the Redmi Note 8 Pro's assembly line after the warehouse visit. The assembly line which uses sophisticated testing equipment and human expertise remains functional for 24-hours. The employees (95-99% women) work in shifts to convert individual components of the Redmi Note 8 Pro into a finished product. A series of tests are performed to evaluate the functionality of the components at their individual and combined state on the Redmi Note 8 Pro's PCB units.
Redmi Note 8 Pro’s Camera Goes Through Intensive Camera Testing Process
There's a reason the Redmi Note 8 Pro features one of the most capable camera hardware on a mid-range smartphone. A lot goes into the testing phase before making it a photographer's delight. I was quite and happy to see that the Redmi Note 8 Pro's quad-lens camera setup goes through a series of tests before coming into action. The company follows ISO-standard 6 for the camera assembly. The camera testing process comprises of three stages. These include- CAM 1, CAM 2, and DCAM Tests.
CAM 1 Test- Evaluate Luminance, Shading, Discoloration and Color Accuracy
The CAM 1 test machine at the assembly line checks front and rear cameras for blemishes by performing luminance test, blemish test, MURA test, Lens shading test, Color shading test and DELTAE test. Combined, these tests check for irregularities in the light that falls on the sensors to create the final image output on the display.
CAM 1 checks for discoloration, clouding effects, shading effect and the color accuracy on the screen, which is nothing but how the camera sensors capture and create the colors of the seen objects.
CAM 2 Test- Evaluates Irregularities In Resolution
The CAM 2 test is performed on the Redmi Note 8 Pro's 64MP primary lens, wide-angle lens, and the macro lens for irregularities in the resolution. The CAM 2 test checks whether the three lenses are working at their full resolution capacities for detailed image output.
DCAM Tests- Evaluates Synergy Between Dual-Lenses
The third test in the Redmi Note 8 Pro's testing procedure is a bit confusing. It checks for the synchronization in the main camera and telephoto lens; however, there is no telephoto lens on the quad-camera array of the Redmi Note 8 Pro. Instead, the test should check the synergy between the dedicated depth sensor and the main sensor.
We are awaiting some clarity on the same from the Xiaomi team. The team at the assembly line performs a series of automated tests via a machine to check if the two calibrated lenses are synchronized and working within the limits.
Redmi Note 8 Pro’s PCB Has Over 850 individual Components
It takes around 24 hours to completely build one Redmi Note 8 Pro unit from scratch. The Redmi Note 8 Pro's PCB unit alone has over 850 individual components. The series of tests continue before and after the components are assembled into a finished product to maintain quality standards. Xiaomi states that the quality starts at the R&D stage when a device at NPI stage undergoes rigorous testing.
Some of these tests are as follows:
• Tumble Test: 3 hours
• Ball drop: 14 hours
• Point Pressure Test: 3 hours
• Extreme thermal test: -15 degree C to +60 degree C: 20 hours
• USB endurance test: 10000 times
• Headset endurance test: 5000 times
• Plus stress test: 8 hours
• Key endurance test: each key 50 million times
• Fingerprint module key heat test: 60 million cycles
Once components and devices pass the NPI stage, they are brought for local manufacturing. Here, a series of tests - also known as Mini Loop tests are performed.
· RF tests
· Climate chamber test
· Thermal shock chamber
· Free fall/drop test
· Vibration test
The Production line testing also comprises of a series of tests including:
• 11 ‘Critical To Quality' sections
• 100% of the devices are manually tested at 3 stages
• 100% of the devices are automated tested at 10 stages
• There is an ageing process of 8 hours for 100% of the devices
• P2i coating chamber is also for 3 hours for 100% of the devices
Once the aforementioned tests are performed, the finished products are sent for post packaging. Later, OBA is conducted by Foxconn and Xiaomi both. The duo shares a close relationship as the Taipei-based manufacturing company started its operations in India with the company's first-ever investment for a Xiaomi manufacturing unit. However, Foxconn also manufactures products for several other smartphone brands.
India is the top priority for Foxconn and the company is already holding talks with the government authorities for its expansion. The Taiwan based contract manufacturer also practices ‘Intelligent Manufacturing' (Foxconn Industrial Internet) in global markets.
Will India Get Foxconn’s Intelligent Manufacturing Plant?
It is too early to predict on Foxconn's plans of setting up an intelligent manufacturing unit in India that uses AI, Big data, and other modern internet technologies to automate the manufacturing process. However, the future seems exciting for Indian manufacturing industry with Foxconn as one of the key players producing products for brands like Xiaomi which have become a household name in the country.
Last but not least, let's understand what the Redmi Note 8 Pro brings to the table when it transforms into a finish product ready to hit the stores.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro- Price, Features, And Specifications
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is by far the most feature-packed sub 15K smartphone you can buy in the Indian market. At a starting price of Rs. 14,999, the smartphone offers a premium IP52 certified design, big 6.5-inch full HD+ display, Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back, 64MP quad-lens camera, and a 4,500 mAh battery unit. It is the first handset to be powered by the recently launched MediaTek Helio G90T SoC that makes it a great budget device for gaming.
The list of features does not stop here as the handset also introduces self-cleaning speakers (first in its price-segment), built-in Amazon Alexa support and a dedicated microSD card slot for Indian users. These on-paper specifications look downright impressive and they do translate to powerful real-world performance which made us call the Redmi Note8 Pro a budget smartphone better than some value flagship devices.
The smartphone is available in three variants- 6GB + 64GB (Rs. 14,999), 6GB + 128GB (15,999) and the 8GB + 128GB at Rs. 17,999. The Redmi Note 8 Pro comes in Gamma Green, Halo White, and Shadow Black colour options.