Announcing EE Concierge

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Upverter just launched a new product. It’s called EE Concierge. If you’re a hardware engineer and you don’t use Upverter to design your PCBs you should check it out.

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Upverter is the same professional, collaborative, cloud-based design tool you know and love except more so. We’ve made our free plan even better than before, and added even more professional layout and 3D features – more on this soon.

17 months ago we began an experiment within the Upverter editor to make sure that every single part a user ever needed, every part they ever searched for, and every part they ever used existed in the Upverter parts library. At the time we thought it would help us get users to adopt Upverter as their preferred EDA tool. You can read more about our early experiments, and why we built the concierge here.

We’ve since realized that the concierge is so much more than a way to convert engineers into Upverter users. It turns out that most engineers hate making parts. It doesn’t matter what tool they use, where they work or what industry they’re in – making symbols, making footprints, modelling parts in 3D and copying attribute data out of PDF datasheets is tedious. It’s slow, painful and error prone. 75% of manufacturing problems are a result of mistakes by engineers who should be designing, instead of making parts.

We built a new product for these engineers. For engineers that don’t want to make parts, but can’t or don’t want to switch to Upverter; engineers that have better things to do, engineers that can’t afford manufacturing errors because they made parts themselves.

We call it EE Concierge. The Electrical Engineering Concierge Service. And we’re here to help you with any electrical engineering task that you need help with, starting with making your parts for you.

The big difference between this new product and other online part libraries is that you can trust it. When we started the parts concierge for Upverter users we decided that it wasn’t enough to just give people questionable data. No true professional would ever use a random part off the internet – they’d rather make it from scratch and be sure it was going to work. So for the parts concierge to work, we knew the parts had to be perfect – perfect attributes, symbol, footprint, pricing, and they would need to come with a 3D model.

It’s a very hard problem to convert PDF datasheets into CAD symbols, footprints, attributes, and 3D models reliably. Especially if people are involved. To address this, we built a massive distributed team of electrical engineers, and software to split up tasks and spread them around the world. These electrical engineers all work on the same parts together collaboratively using the Upverter toolset and our amazing crowd-sourced design rules. Their data is compared, and checked and improved to eventually produce a winner, or if a winner is not produced, we request more samples from more and more electrical engineers until we are confident the data is correct. We then pass all this data through a machine intelligence to verify if the part is correct. This is the only way you can reliably make the highest quality parts in huge volume and still trust that the data is correct. This is our first secret weapon. You can see an example of our quality by downloading our example library here.

We store all of this parts data in a common format that we’ve been developing over the years at Upverter. This common format is our second secret weapon. It allows us to build intelligent export configuration and translation tools so that the users of EE Concierge can configure their parts library to export in exactly the same style as parts they make internally. One of the first steps to using EE Concierge is to provide us with your internal hardware team style guide, so that we can help you setup your export to be exactly the same as the parts you make manually. You can see our Style Guide and all the many configuration options here.

Finally we’ve built a sophisticated pricing algorithm so that you get charged a fair price for every part you request through the concierge. We think it’s crazy to pay the same price for a resistor that you’d pay for a 2500 pin BGA. That’s why our algorithm is based on the complexity of the part – not one price to rule them all, not how long it took us to make it, or how many parts specialists needed to be involved, or anything like that. You pay an algorithmic, deterministic fair price based on the complexity of the part we made for you. Resistors are cheaper than BGAs, and parts that can be generated with our software are cheaper than non-standard connectors that we need to draw by hand. You can see example pricing on the pricing page of the EE Concierge site.

Our part concierge has grown considerably over the past 17 months. I thought some of you might be interested in some of our stats:

Requests per week:  301,  trending up
Part edits made by our Parts Specialists:  1,145,  trending down per request
Manual Intervention Required rate delivering parts:  4%,  trending down
Error rate in verified parts:  0.2%,  trending flat
Average cost of a request:  $34,  trending up
Mean Time between request and delivery:  21 hours,  trending down
Mode Time between request and delivery:  6 hours,  trending flat
Contract Parts Specialists working full-time for EE Concierge:  22+

Finally, I want to tell you about a special promotion we’re doing right now. For a limited time, if you sign up for EE Concierge we will give you an Example Library of parts worth more than $1500 and an additional $150 in request credit that you can use to request any parts that you want from the concierge – all for free. This is enough credit for 5 or more average sized parts, so you can truly test our capability, quality, performance, and turnaround time.

As always if you have any suggestions, feedback, or questions please comment here, or in the Upverter forum, or email me at zak@eeconcierge.com.

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