As if the design, features and a whole new platform weren’t enough for the Uniti range, a completely new manufacturing facility has been built at the Naim factory to build the products.
Like almost all of Naim’s products, the Uniti products are hand-built by the expert Naim workforce in Salisbury. As part of the massive investment involved in replacing the old Uniti line-up, a dedicated area has been designed to build, test and finish the Uniti Core, Uniti Atom, Uniti Star and Uniti Nova, based around a number of production ‘cells’ and specialised test areas, with all-new equipment to meet the demands of assembling these future-proof products.
Although the nimble-fingered Production staff admitted to being slightly daunted by the new build technology at first, they’re now getting used to it, and can see the flexibility and quality it brings. As in the dedicated Statement assembly area upstairs, each cell has its own touchscreen display, on which the step-by-step process of assembling a Uniti Core, Uniti Atom, Uniti Star or Uniti Nova can be followed and checked.
Each cell builds a product from start to finish…so each Uniti product you buy will have been hand-assembled by a single person.
Each cell builds a product from start to finish, using a kit of parts delivered ready to go, so each Uniti product you buy will have been hand-assembled by a single person, not run down an anonymous production line. The new build process programmes cover every aspect of the process, from ‘what goes where’ to the finer details of cable dressing, the torque to which bolts need to tightened, and so on.
Flicking through the screens, it’s interesting to see alert points popping up to ensure the product is built exactly as it should be: for example, when installing the hefty toroidal transformers used in the Uniti power supplies, the warning says ‘Do not let the transformer strike the tall threaded post, a deformed post will prevent correct fitment and affect performance’. The technician is also told the precise orientation required for the transformer, and even given tips on how to handle components to ensure they’re not damaged or weakened, during assembly.
It all makes for a more accurate and effective build of the products, reducing the need for remedial work down the line, although given the initial testing and set-up carried out during the assembly process, and the rigorous checking of components before they even reach the cells, failures to be picked up in final testing should be pretty rare.
It also helps that the people building Uniti – and all of the Naim models coming out of the Salisbury factory – are also Naim enthusiasts: talk to them and you hear tales of the classic products they have owned, from ‘chrome bumper’ pre/power amps up to the original Uniti series.
Each cell is kitted with equipment and tools to build the new products, from baskets of minor components such as cable-ties and fixings through to custom jigs. A further advantage of this layout, with the touchscreen system, is that each cell can also switch swiftly from making one of the New Uniti products to another, or even switch between models on the fly as demand from the sales people requires.
All that needs to be done is a swift flick from the on-screen production routine for one model to the next, and each cell is ready to build it. It’s hardly surprising that there are already thoughts about expanding this method of working to the rest of the range.
All the processes created by R&D ensure the new Uniti products are built to the highest possible standards: the distance from assembly to testing – both ‘soaking’ under power and functional and performance checking (using new dedicated stations with more touchscreens, and patch-bays to allow all the connectivity to be tested) – is just a matter of a few metres.
This reduces handling and any opportunity for dust to get into the product and need cleaning out, and after meticulous inspection, the units receive their top panels, which are bolted through from the base panel using another torque driver while sitting on a custom-made jig. The tightening of the through-bolts is as precise as the rest of the production process – as is explained in the quality control section, ‘if they’re unevenly or over-tightened, it can affect the sound. The whole product is designed to that kind of specification, and built to sound just right with exactly those settings’.
The production methods employed for the Uniti range may be as new as the design, engineering and style, but when you hear that even the torque of a bolt is factored into the sound, you’re left in no doubt that these are pure Naim products.