[Vaio X Teardown (4)] Harder to Assemble Than MacBook Air

Nov 13, 2009
Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad
When the back cover was removed, we found three circuit boards under a transparent sheet. There are no components mounted on the back of the main board (upper right).
When the back cover was removed, we found three circuit boards under a transparent sheet. There are no components mounted on the back of the main board (upper right).
[Click to enlarge image]

An engineer examined the main board from behind and said, "All of the connectors are facing the other side. This kind of design lowers labor effectiveness and normally cannot be accepted by a manufacturing sector."

"They employed a drastic measure by mounting all the components on one side," he added. "But it contributed to the slimness. I wonder if they mount the components all at once after connecting them with one another. In any case, it is very difficult to assemble."

We removed all of the screws that we found on the main board but failed to take it out. Some screws, including the ones fixing the 3G module, were covered by tapes. Then, we detached various kinds of connectors. Some of them were pulled upward, and other were pulled out in a normal way.

"If I did not know how to remove them, I might break some," an engineer said.

Finally, we were ready to take out the main board.

"By the way, it would be very difficult to come up with the assembly sequence for the Vaio X," an engineer said. "Are the components mounted all at once after connecting them with one another? There must be a correct procedure, but it must be very difficult. That's why Sony manufactures the PC at a plant in Japan."

"On the whole, the Vaio X is more difficult to assemble than the MacBook Air," he continued. "I do not say it is impossible for ODM makers, such as in Taiwan, to assemble the Vaio X. But it is Japan's specialty to put together devices whose assembly sequences cannot be even imagined."

However, the cost of assembling the Vaio X is probably high.

"I think it costs twice as much to assemble the Vaio X than it does to assemble a normal notebook PC," an engineer said. "Normally, about 6% of the cost of an A4-size notebook PC is used for assembly."

"In the case of smaller notebook PCs, which are more difficult to assemble, it is about 8%," he added. "Considering the number of man-hour needed for the Vaio X, the cost to assemble it is more than twice as much. The Vaio X is a little smaller than other mobile notebook PCs, and it has connectors on the back, lowering the labor effectiveness even more."