Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses China United Kingdom Technology

Raspberry Pi Production Heats Up In UK Surpassing Chinese Production Soon 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the cranking-them-out dept.
hypnosec writes "The majority of $35 Raspberry Pi production was shifted to a factory in Wales from China and the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced this week that the factory in Wales has produced its half millionth unit in just over six months. The weekly production has shot up to 40,000 units in the UK factory and that number is 'set to climb further.' The Foundation is optimistic about the Welsh factory and said there will be 'more Made in the U.K. Pis in the world than their Made in China cousins.' The Foundation didn't reveal anything else apart from this, but we already know it sold the millionth Pi back in January."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Raspberry Pi Production Heats Up In UK Surpassing Chinese Production Soon

Comments Filter:
  • Subsidised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robpow (2772251) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:59PM (#43446951)
    So how come it can be done in the UK and still sold at the same price? Either there's a subsidy in place or the manufacturing cost is a negligible part of the selling price.
    • Re:Subsidised? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:05PM (#43446977) Homepage Journal

      well.. that price is without vat, so the time I could buy it the price is 48 euros. they don't pay license fees for codecs(that's extra) and so on. and the production is probably fully automated. you might have worse luck sourcing the parts at their pricing though but I'm pretty sure the chip companies aren't doing this as a charity..

      once there's no manual labor involved then assembling them is pretty much the same regardless of where it happens if scale is big enough(that automation can be done).

      • Re:Subsidised? (Score:4, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:38AM (#43449559)

        well.. that price is without vat, so the time I could buy it the price is 48 euros. they don't pay license fees for codecs(that's extra) and so on. and the production is probably fully automated. you might have worse luck sourcing the parts at their pricing though but I'm pretty sure the chip companies aren't doing this as a charity..

        once there's no manual labor involved then assembling them is pretty much the same regardless of where it happens if scale is big enough(that automation can be done).

        That's the deal - the Pi is sold pretty much manufactured by automated processes. Whether in the US, UK, China or anywhere else, all the effort is in setting up the machines and they spit out a fully assembled Pi.

        And that happens because the Pi is sold as a bare circuit board - no case or other frills - everything is mounted on the circuit board and wrapped up in an anti-static bag.

        When all you're going is taking the output of the pick and place machine, it's cheap. The hard part is in the casings - Steve Jobs and Woz realized this over 30 years ago when they moved from the bare board Apple I to the plastic-cased Apple II that "normal" people would buy.

        Of course, once you start putting cases on, it adds production steps and that's where the price differentials come into play. Setting up a human assembly line is cheap and agile - change a design and they can be retrained in a few hours and building your product in a new revised case. An automated assembly line is more expensive to set up and not so agile (they need to be programmed and overseen as slight variations can trigger failures in the vision system), but they're cheaper once everything is up and running as machines are cheaper than humans.

        There's not too much assembly work or even human hands touching the Pi required. Even testing can be automated using the right production test software.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it is the latter. The factory in Wales is highly automated, so there aren't very many staff that need to be employed for the Raspberry Pi production there.

      • Yep (Score:5, Informative)

        by goldcd (587052) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:37PM (#43447087) Homepage
        http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/2569 [raspberrypi.org]

        More interesting question is around import duty. I think I read (possibly when last trying to work out where the f*ck my OpenPandora was) that there's different import duties on finished electrical good and components (these being more expensive). Even assuming assembly cost is the same, it means it always costs more to assemble in the UK.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/2569 [raspberrypi.org]

          More interesting question is around import duty. I think I read (possibly when last trying to work out where the f*ck my OpenPandora was) that there's different import duties on finished electrical good and components (these being more expensive). Even assuming assembly cost is the same, it means it always costs more to assemble in the UK.

          Except that the Raspberry Pi foundation have never been able to point to any of these so-called duties. A question was asked in parliament and the minister replied that nobody in his department had any idea what they were talking about. Bear in mind that the Raspberry Pi foundation is run by engineers and programmers, not by people with a background in navigating import procedures.

          A quick search of the UK trade tariff [www.gov.uk] shows that there is no tariff on these sorts of components from any country. VAT applies,

          • by Rakishi (759894)

            How does the VAT work regarding something that's being exported?

            If you sold it in the UK you'd recoup the VAT from the components by the VAT the consumer pays you. What if you export to a country with no VAT? Do you need to charge more to offset the component's VAT?

            • Do you need to charge more to offset the component's VAT?

              Yes.

              When you buy thing in the UK, you pay VAT (any goods and services, including parts, office rent, cleaning, etc). When you sell them you charge VAT. If you're a business, you can take the VAT you've charged and use it to pay the VAT that you were charged. That's sensible since it stops the tax growing exponentially with supply chain length.

              Basically, the VAT going to HMRC is on the difference between sales and VATTable expenditures (pretty much eve

      • by SB2020 (1814172)
        68 is not very many? http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3686 [raspberrypi.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is it being "manufactured" in the UK... or assembling the parts made in China?

      Assembly is usually what passed as manufacturing in the UK these days.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      IIRC they wanted to manufacture in the UK originally, but at the volumes they planned it wasn't possible to do at the target price. Since it as a huge success and sold in quantities beyond their wildest dreams it became possible to manufacture in the UK. So the short answer is volume!

    • Re:Subsidised? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MLCT (1148749) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @05:15PM (#43447499)
      The days of everything being far (i.e. an order of magnitude) cheaper to make in China than the west are slowly coming to an end. There is still a price advantage ATM, but it is eroding, and parity exists in some areas, and there is an actual price advantage with western labour in a few situations.

      There was a documentary on UK TV last year that looked at a cushion factory which was seeing parity between its Chinese and UK plant - and this is sowing and stuffing cushions, not making high value goods:

      The Town Taking on China [bbc.co.uk]

      Basically wage costs are rising fast in China, coupled with a labour force that shops around constantly to get the best deal, playing factories off against each other (that leads not only to higher wage costs, but also difficulty in skill retention). Skill retention may not mean much when it is sowing cushions, but there is always a learning curve for efficient work, and poor retention impacts on productivity. The third string in the bow is shipping costs - the price of fuel has quadrupled in the last 15 years.

      All of these things add up. The good thing is that some basic manufacturing jobs will move back to the west rebalancing the economy - the bad thing is that most manufactured goods will jump back on to the inflation conveyer belt again - after ~20 years of their cost being frozen while our pay still rose at 3-5% per year - they will be back in step again as China starts to level out with the west on living standards.
      • by jrumney (197329) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @09:19PM (#43448655) Homepage

        There was a documentary on UK TV last year that looked at a cushion factory which was seeing parity between its Chinese and UK plant - and this is sowing and stuffing cushions

        At a guess, I'd say the higher rainfall in UK would benefit any industry that involves sowing.

      • I'm surprised that fuel costs make any significant difference. More fuel is required to ship things from (e.g.) the shop to the home than is required to ship form China to the UK by continer ship. Not only that, but the ships use much cheaper, lower grade and untaxed fuel.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      So how come it can be done in the UK and still sold at the same price? Either there's a subsidy in place or the manufacturing cost is a negligible part of the selling price.

      Pick and place machines don't cost more to operate in the UK than in China.

      • by fnj (64210)

        Pick and place machines don't cost more to operate in the UK than in China.

        Actually, a moment's thought would suggest not. Actually [wikipedia.org], the electricity to run those machines costs from 0.075 to 0.107 USD $/kWh; in the UK it is 0.2. Wages of the few people you do employ (it clearly can't be zero), most notably in management, are also bound to be higher. You can take it to the bank that the investment in the land to build on to house the machines, as well as the buildings themselves, will also be more in UK. And

    • Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @05:48PM (#43447649)
      They are producing in the Sony plant in the UK. How Sony does it, I don't know, but presumably they have come up with some sort of financial plan that includes tax breaks and possibly subsidization of some sort to get these produced in the UK at a competing price. Don't forget that import taxes for ICT equipment into the EU are quite hefty. Maybe substantially lower than on electronic components? What I know is that they got a price quoted by Sony that was more than interesting enough to commit to a large number of RPis made in the UK. That number was enough for Sony to re-tool the UK factory and get the special equipment required to mount the memory chips on top of the SoC. That was the main investment for Sony, since they didn't have anything that could do that part of the process. The rest was basically just rearranging existing equipment and staff for this production line.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I learned something interesting some years back when working for a computer consulting firm as a contractor at the Nissan automobile manufacturning plant in Smyrna, Tennessee here in the USA. I don't know the full scope but it seemed that the plant (covers more than two square miles under one roof) is considered either 'foreign' or 'international' territory somehow. So it seemed that US law may or may not apply within it's confines. I was informed very clearly that taking pictures inside was forbidden, a

  • I am still trying to get gapless playback out of VLC.

    [Never mind VLC -- it's no use.
    But I think I've had all major players (pun unintended)
    over the past few years -- RB had a memory leak,
    Audacious only had the stinking 'horizontal' playlist
    display, Amarok was too heavy on a non-KE-user,
    etc., etc.]

    • I am still trying to get gapless playback out of VLC.

      Of what?

    • OMXplayer isn't there yet either. However, recently, they moved from buffer to FIFO, making it theoretically possible to put new files/streams at the end of the FIFO, in theory never stopping playback. Since OMXplayer is the only player using the hardware accelerated playback of the Pi, I'd say people that actually know how to code should put some effort in it. Either that, or get a capable media player to play nice with the libs for hardware acceleration on the Pi...
  • by kenh (9056)

    Seems to me the import fees on a completed unit is higher than the total import fees on the individual components.

    I'd like to buy one made in USA (or US/Mexico duty-free region along the border), but I probably won't wait...

  • by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:36PM (#43447083)

    I have a couple RPis and they are useful learning tools but there is a lot more information that this group could spread to those to help the community. One of those would be why or how they are now able to move/transition production to the UK from China. It would be a great piece of information for the community to understand how they managed that so that others could benefit and perhaps do the same with their own projects.

    In general there must be a whole host of lessons learned that could be shared that would help someone else avoid the pitfalls these guys undoubtedly had to work through. I'm interested in the process in general such as choosing a manufacturer, how they went about going through the regulatory hurdles, etc. All the stuff you would want to know if you wanted to take a hobby project and make money on it.

  • Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whizbang77045 (1342005) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @04:02PM (#43447171)
    Amazing! You make something available people actually want, and they buy it. No hard push advertising required!
    • by ThePeices (635180)

      Amazing! You make something available people actually want, and they buy it. No hard push advertising required!

      This is a novel idea, and should be looked into further.

      I wholeheartedly approve of this product and/or service!

    • "No hard push advertising required!"

      So you don't get the at least once a week slashvertisement, the front page el reg articles, and raspberry pi coming from just about every faucet on the internet?

      It was not only advertised, but falsely advertised all over the place. An educational tool. All you need is a keyboard, monitor, power supply. Run scratch, learn programming. It's for the good of our children.

      What they didn't tell you was that the USB doesn't work with most of keyboards and mice (I tried abo
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SB2020 (1814172)
        This is pure misinformation, I have a RPi with an up to date OS and adequate power supply and it works just fine. I have used several keyboards and mice (wired, wireless) and never had a problem with USB.
        Ethernet has never dropped out - ever. The only real issues I've had are with SD card corruption when overclocking - taught me a bunch about repairing filesystems, data recovery and importance of backups.
        It's currently plugged into my TV running XBMC which it does adequately, it can be a bit sluggish but
        • by csumpi (2258986)
          "This is pure misinformation"

          No, it's not. Just google "raspberry pi ethernet" or "raspberry pi usb".

          I've tried about a dozen keyboards on mine, most didn't work, the others randomly repeated keystrokes. This was from $5 nonames to Logitech and Microsoft high end keyboards. I also tried it through powered usb hubs, and I even pulled out the soldering iron and bridged the on board fuse. Which helped some, after that I could use a GE keyboard with key repeats only happening once or twice a minute. But tha
          • by Schnapple (262314)

            I've tried about a dozen keyboards on mine, most didn't work, the others randomly repeated keystrokes. This was from $5 nonames to Logitech and Microsoft high end keyboards.

            Your problem is your power supply. It's pretty much the culprit of just about any RPi issues. Get the right power supply and just about anything you plug in works.

            The way to be sure is to plug the RPi in for power to one of the USB ports on your main PC. Yes that's counter-intuitive and not the long term goal but once you get the ri

            • by csumpi (2258986)
              No it wasn't. I've also tried a bunch of power supplies, some even with 2A output. Also experimented with two powered USB hubs.

              The problem with both USB and Ethernet are design issues, well documented on the rpi forums. Even the foundation knows about them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 14, 2013 @04:53PM (#43447413)

    I remember posting a comment on Raspberry Pi's forums suggesting that they also offered an UK or even EU-built raspi, even if the price was higher than what they charged for the chinese version. In reply to that suggestion I received one of Liz's trademark sarcastic comments, along with insinuations that this suggestion was based on racism. That lead me to decide not to purchase one. Ever.

    Now lo and behold: EU-made versions are outselling Chinese ones. Does that mean Raspberry Pi users are packed with racists and bigots?

    • by Kingston (1256054) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @05:30PM (#43447555)
      I think I found your comment, it makes for a fun contrast. This week Liz Upton Said:

      Soon there will be more Made in the UK Pis in the world than their Made in China cousins. This is wonderful news for us; and it’s great news for Welsh manufacturing.

      but last year she told you:

      The Union Jack emblazoned, UK-only board for angry lunatics^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hpatriots is a charming idea, but it's not remotely realistic.

      you told her:

      Finally, I'll say only this: if you want to curb the amount of arguments in this forum then you could at least try to tone down the propensity to post passive-agressive and provocative comments. It doesn't look well for a charity dedicated to an educational project to have its PR done by someone who is unable to have a polite and educated conversation. Take care.

      So she signed off with:

      I've had a better idea. I've removed your posting privileges, along with Sylvain's. My preferred sort of aggression is aggressive-aggression. Take care.

      I think we should all take care and put on out tin helmets.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        For anyone wondering "where is the fucking source?", it is here:

        http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2301&start=50 [raspberrypi.org]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Countless people have been banned by her purely for raising polite and logically written suggestions or questions that she finds "inconvenient". Discussion that isn't compliant with her personal agenda is completely blocked by the woman and her adoring legion of fanbois.

        It's an interesting case study, interesting that is as material for a thesis in pathological psychiatry. For anyone else, it's a good reason to stay away.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rephlex (96882)

      Liz can be just so incredibly abrasive sometimes. She once implied I was a lunatic when I complained about the Raspberry Pi's USB issues. How a person like her ends up doing PR is beyond me, although she appears to have done a good job with the media side of things.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @07:19PM (#43448065)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

    "Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.
    Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,”"

    I think its about time Apple [and the media;shills] stopped making excuses if Sony can manufacture the Rasberry Pi in Wales!?

    • He was/is part of the problem in another sense. Looking up to
      him is as well.

      I can hear it now, the answer to the 'problem' raised in the NYT
      article: "lower wages, clamp down on workers' rights, in short,
      more capitalism".

      The only true answer is: less oligarchy, which will enable solidarity
      to return, which will empower workers, which will give them back
      a sense of ownership of their workplace -- in short: less rampant
      capitalism.

      How do you arrive at that end? I heard the USA is a democratic
      society. How about

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Firstly, Apple is now moving manufacturing to the US.

        Secondly, Steve Jobs said the problem in the US was:
        - NOT the wages, which only increased the cost by a few dollars
        - lacking infrastructure (for JIT mfg)
        - lack of experienced mfg. engineers, in large numbers
        - lack of sufficient numbers of trained staff able to work mfg
        - suppliers (integrated and co-located)

        The US education system just doesn't produce the right kind of engineer or skilled workers because it hasn't be

    • by Nivag064 (904744)

      Well perhaps the jobs won't go back to the USA, but they might move to Wales! :-)

      I think Wales probably has fewer Fundamentalist Christians trying to suppress science than the USA has!

  • I'm all for people learning to develop in a Unix environment and working with hardware but how do we keep this from becoming the Javascript/HTML of the hardware world? What I mean is that too many people learn nothing more than Javascript and HTML and call themselves programmers. How do we encourage people to go beyond the basics and not just build everything based on a Raspberry Pi?

    • I'm all for people learning to develop in a Unix environment and working with hardware but how do we keep this from becoming the Javascript/HTML of the hardware world? What I mean is that too many people learn nothing more than Javascript and HTML and call themselves programmers. How do we encourage people to go beyond the basics and not just build everything based on a Raspberry Pi?

      The R. Pi is just one of many single board computers. It did not create the market. It is not interesting to those like me who have been working with embedded systems prior to its release (except where low cost is more important than power). Unless they offer competitive pricing for even more capable units, then have no fear: Folks will migrate to other platforms when they outgrow the R.Pi. For another $100 you can get a more powerful Linux based single board computer, that's is in stock, and has more

      • $_ =~ s/hat all t//; # :-P
      • No, not Linux. I'm concerned that people will start designing everyday product around an RPi because a) that's what they know how to use and b) it's dirt cheap. As a learning tool, it's pretty cool. My personal embedded development beefs come from a things like Linux SBCs not being designed as an appliance with a real power switch. I don't want to waste time waiting for it to boot nor do I want to have to remember to shut it down gracefully. I also have a problem with manufacturers not telling you exac

  • Apart from the stacked CPU/RAM, the Raspberry PI could be sold as an assemble it yourself kit. All the key components are still produced in Asia, and will be for decades unless Wales wants to invest high-billions in new fabs.

  • ... be referred to as the Shepherd's Pi?

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

Working...