Just about everything we use has electronics in it. Generally, this consists of a printed circuit board with components soldered onto it. Thousands, perhaps even millions, of different boards exist, and each one gets assembled into some hardware device people expect to have work. The majority of companies get most of the components soldered onto boards automatically at factories (called "contract manufacturers, or CM's) which specialize in this kind of work.
One would think that one gives them the boards, the reels of components (machine-loadable tapes with components along them) and the instructions about what goes where, and then just gets back nice nifty working electronic assemblies.
One would, in at least some cases, be wrong. Expensively wrong.
Having spent the last several weeks learning about the details of this process, and trying to find a workable compromise, I was once again confronted with the truth I started this post with.