Building Satellites with PartsBox: A Case Study

Orbit NTNU, a dedicated satellite development team, has found success in their endeavors by utilizing PartsBox, component management software. In this case study, we'll explore how PartsBox has helped Orbit NTNU in their mission to develop innovative satellites and improve their satellite-building processes.

Current Projects and Initiatives

Orbit NTNU is currently working on two exciting satellite projects: FramSat-1 (successor to SelfieSat) and BioSat. These satellites aim to provide cost-effective hardware testing opportunities and may potentially become the first satellites to be launched into orbit from European soil.

BioSat, on the other hand, is a unique project that involves growing plants autonomously in orbit inside a 3U cubesat. This project presents various challenges, including lighting, temperature regulation, communication, and power management.

Utilizing PartsBox in Satellite Development

One key aspect that sets Orbit NTNU apart is their integration of PartsBox into all their projects. Previously, they would order components independently, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of control over their inventory. Now, with PartsBox, they have enhanced control and can plan their purchasing and designs more effectively.

For example, they now focus on standardizing components across their projects and designs, reducing costs and ensuring they have a sufficient supply of each component. This is especially critical for components that may no longer be in production, as they discovered with the FramSat project.

Parts Substitutes and Inventory Organization

Orbit NTNU particularly values and frequently utilizes parts substitutes, given the challenges of sourcing components due to supply issues or discontinued production. At present, their storage is dominated by components ordered for past projects, and they aim to establish a standardized system for future component use.

Creating New Parts and Parts Info

Orbit NTNU finds creating new parts in PartsBox to be straightforward. They emphasize the importance of fields such as location, case code, component value, and whether the component is lead-free. This last feature is a significant time-saver for them, helping ensure compliance with regulations and standards regarding the presence of lead in components. This meticulous tracking of lead content is essential in their work and contributes to efficient and accurate component management.

Inventory Organization

Orbit NTNU maintains two primary storage locations: an EPA-lab for assembling flight hardware and their primary office, where most soldering, reflow, testing, and troubleshooting activities occur. Their primary office inventory is organized using a letter and number system to denote drawers in a metal cabinet, although individual drawers lack a specific internal system. Orbit NTNU found the process of creating their storage structure in PartsBox to be straightforward and effective.

Creating Bills of Materials (BOMs)

The team typically imports BOMs from Altium and utilizes the customization feature for displaying the necessary properties, which proves to be very useful for accommodating specific project requirements.

Benefits in Build Planning and Management

PartsBox plays a significant role in Orbit NTNU's build planning and management. It simplifies component tracking, helps them determine what components they need, and enhances overall project efficiency, resulting in considerable time savings.

Purchasing and Supply Chain Management

The software streamlines their purchasing process, saving time and minimizing errors. Orbit NTNU has set up a vendor list, which automatically selects vendors in their preferred order, simplifying the ordering process for both the team and their CFO.

Why PartsBox?

Orbit NTNU chose PartsBox primarily because of its user-friendly interface. They were impressed with its ease of use, which was crucial for their mission to streamline satellite development.

Features and Tools Appreciated

Orbit NTNU has embraced various features and tools within PartsBox, including the barcode scanner for entering components from old orders, the substitute part property, documentation of component changes, the builds feature, and the purchasing system.

Achieving Goals and Objectives

PartsBox helps Orbit NTNU in achieving their goals and objectives by saving valuable time and reducing the risk of component shortages. It allows the team to focus on learning and building, rather than time-consuming and tedious administrative tasks.

The case of Orbit NTNU demonstrates how a user-friendly and efficient component management system can significantly impact satellite development projects. By saving time, reducing errors, and enhancing control over their inventory, PartsBox has become an indispensable tool for Orbit NTNU's mission to explore the cosmos.

PartsBox is an online app that lets you take control of your electronic parts inventory, BOM pricing, and small-scale production. It keeps track of where components are stored, what the current stock levels are, and which components are used in which projects/BOMs.

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