Look Inside Motorola’s Moto X Factory
The Moto X is a return to form for Motorola, and it represents the first device it has produced from start to finish as a Google company. But while the Moto X is a good smartphone in its own right, half of the story is Motorola’s surprising decision to move its final assembly to the US. This, according to the company, is what enables it to offer a quick turnaround time and direct fulfillment for customized, built-to-order devices.
To accomplish this, Motorola partnered with Flextronics to refab a factory in Texas formerly used by Nokia. In a mere six months, the factory was completely updated and transformed to Motorola’s specifications, which included the hiring of 2,500 workers to make it run. Motorola did not actually make a final call to do manufacturing in the US until late 2012, but the factory was operational by August 6th of this year. The factory currently puts out about 100,000 devices per week, but Motorola says that it’s possible to scale it to tens of millions of units. Given that more than half of the over 400,000 square foot factory floor sits unused right now, that’s not too hard to believe.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside tells us that having the factory in the US was crucial for the MotoMaker customization program to even exist, but it also offers other benefits to the company from an engineering standpoint. Since Motorola’s devices are designed in the US, having the manufacturing close by lets engineers make quick changes and tweaks to the design and look of the device much faster than if it were located overseas.
“There is a premium [with building in the US] but it’s not material to the economics of the business. It’s a myth that you can’t bring manufacturing here because it’s too expensive,” says Woodside. “We’ve observed that wages in Asia are going up, wages here are relatively steady, consumers care more about where their products are being built, and you have advantages of having design close to your manufacture. Those advantages will well outweigh the costs that we have today and those costs will go down over time.”