Two years ago, on our last visit to the Kobe factory, we were told that Panasonic would be expanding the factory if needed, by using the third floor for additional manufacturing space. Well, it seems like the global economic downturn in 2009 did hit Panasonic somewhat, as we didn’t see any signs or mentions of a third floor expansion. That said, from our brief time at the factory, the second floor area seemed slightly more packed with more notebooks being made in the same work space.
Panasonic designs their own circuit boards which are built in the machines you see below. They state that their designs offer additional power savings over the usual circuit boards. We were told they work very closely with Intel, so don’t expect to see any AMD based Toughbooks anytime soon.
The various components are then assembled by hand and inspected closely to ensure that there are no defects. Once the components are fully assembled, Panasonic then puts the notebooks through a software test to make sure all components are properly integrated. Each batch, some notebooks are randomly selected for further testing to ensure the Toughbooks really stay true to their name of being tough. Over in the next page, we detail more about Panasonic's testing procedures.