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August 18th – New production staff to help things go faster!

Hi everyone,

First and foremost, apologies for another 3 week delay in posting – between keeping on top of e-mails, continuing to update our software and instructions based on our first run feedback, and a few snags in the shop with our lathe, we’ve been extremely busy – but this is nothing new. Because of this, we’ve decided to bring on three more staff. As things have been going for the spring and summer, everything is pushed to the limit – 18 hour days, 6 days a week, with zero time for error. So whenever even the slightest issue comes up, it spirals into a massive delay in nearly everything we’re doing. Think of jogging vs. sprinting, and then tripping – if you’re jogging, you just recover and keep going, but if you’re sprinting, you generally fall over, might injure yourself, etc.

Between the (well deserved) angry e-mails and comments that we keep disappearing, and the internal stress and frustration of not meeting our targets, we’ve decided to bring on some more staff to help spread things out. In total we’re going to be bringing on a new machinist and two new assembly staff. This means that instead of one person having to do machining, customer support, assembly, and handling any materials sourcing (for instance), we can have each person perform one dedicated task. Similarly, instead of having one person handling e-mail, updates, software, electrical, assembly, and administration, those tasks can be split up so they don’t all get brought down when only one of them has an issue.

We’re in the process of hiring these staff as we speak and will let everyone know once they’re in place – hopefully within the next 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, the juggling act will be a bit more difficult, because hiring good people takes time!

Some other bad news for those that haven’t yet ordered a unit – our prices will likely be rising going forward to reflect both this change, and our fulfillment and logistics changes. As most of you know we ran into issues with US and EU fulfillment when we sent out our first runs, and have been looking to solve the issue ever since without letting shipping costs climb. Between that and requiring more staff to keep things operating smoothly, we’ll be raising our prices once our first batch of pre-orders has been shipped out and we’ve finalized our plans there. Shipping will likely become included in the price for North America and Europe based on a new fulfillment strategy, with marginal additional shipping costs for places like Asia or Australia. We haven’t quite finalized the price yet, but we will not charge anything extra if you’ve already placed your order!

Last but not least, a quick update on where we are: While we’re about two weeks behind in shipping out our first batch of pre-orders, they should still head out the door by the end of August, or start of September at latest. This will include some Indiegogo orders as well – think of it as a transitional batch. The two week delay is due to two things – the screen on our lathe broke, which has taken about a week to fix (we have a loaner in the meantime to keep it up and running), and our new plan to hire more staff and adjust the way we operate to try and increase our customer satisfaction has taken some additional plan to time, crunch numbers, etc.

As mentioned in our previous post we’ve also gotten a lot of feedback from our first run users, mostly on little quirks with user friendly-ness that we’ve been trying to tweak through software updates for all future units. With that being said, the first draft of our support page is now live and ready for you to look through, start reading, and open up the feedback to add on to everything we’ve gotten already. Keep in mind there is still quite a bit missing – the full user manual comes to mind – but the quick start, safety guide, and the current revision on how to use the software are all in place and ready for your feedback and constructive criticism! While the link isn’t yet up, head over to www.redetec.com/support to get direct access to these pages.

That’s it for this week – we should be back to weekly or bi weekly updates starting next week, though do bear with us as we bring our new staff on board and get everything adjusted to our new roles and operations going forward! A sincere apology from everyone as well that it’s taken us some time to make this change – in hindsight, it’s been foolish of us to expect the ongoing issues to stop at some point and to “get over the hump” of our current backlog, when in reality it’s now pretty clear that we can’t do it ourselves and need some more help to meet the expectations of our customers, and the level of service they deserve!

Thanks for your patience and support as always, and we’ll be back next week with more!

-The ReDeTec team

July 25th – Process Improvements, First Run Feedback

Another quick blurb from us this week!

Process Improvements

First on the line, we’ve made a few improvements in the shop to maximize efficiency. It’s no secret that we’re a little behind in delivery, so we’re taking some time on the weekends to implement a few changes that should help speed up the shop flow and ensure everything works as fast as possible.

First up is our Kanban board. While seemingly simple, this board ensures that none of our machines are ever sitting idle, and that each operator knows exactly what to do when, and what priority to do things in. This removes some of the overhead work of scheduling machine time, and ensures the shop runs as quickly as possible. It’s part of the Lean Manufacturing / Toyota Production System methodology, and should help us maximize our 12+ hour production days.

DSC01136 (1000x750)
The Kanban board lists what is queued, what parts have priority, and what’s done and ready for assembly…all of which helps the shop flow more smoothly!

 

Next up is our part catcher and bar puller for the lathe. Effectively this allows the lathe to run far more “automatically”, as it can now do multiple parts without any user interaction. When a part is done, the part catcher opens, the part is cut off, and the part falls into the open part catcher. Then the part catcher closes, the bar puller grabs the bar and pulls more raw stock into the lathe…and it begins making another part. This reduces the amount of time someone needs to spend with the lathe significantly, freeing up more time for running the mills or assembling units – always a good thing!

Part Catcher
This is our part catcher…the lathe triggers the stepper to open the lid (which keeps chips and coolant off the finished parts), a part is dropped in, the lid closes, and another part gets made! Depending on the size of the part, this really reduces user interaction with the lathe, freeing that person up to do other stuff!

Last but not least, we have two new electrical test setups and a new software load to pre-test all of our circuit boards and components, before they get installed into a unit. This involves both HiPot testing the heaters and circuit boards (which were a failure point on our first runs for a few units) before they get assembled, saving quite a bit of debugging time, as well as quickly testing to ensure a circuit drives all of it’s parts (motors, fans, LCD, buttons, heater, etc) correctly, as our circuit boards also had a few issues during our earlier assemblies. While neither of these steps reduce the assembly time of a unit, they nearly eliminate the chance that a unit will make it to final QC with any electrical issues – often the longest to debug and repair. So it should still save a significant amount of time overall in our production, and help ensure you get your units working and faster than before!

First run feedback

We have gotten a lot of good feedback from our first run users…so thank you! Despite our best efforts there are a few bugs in the software, mostly on ease of use aspects (the COM port list doesn’t refresh properly, so you can end up with 5 “COM1″s, and the dialogue window for opening a script asks you to save a file, as two examples), and our instructions need a bit of work in clarifying how to use things, particularly in the manual mode. We’re working away on this and while most of the basic support documentation is now ready to go, the entire first draft including advanced operation and any revisions for clarity should be ready to go by the end of the week. That being said, please keep the feedback coming! We are extremely grateful to have you help us with the final stages of polishing the product, and any input you have is more than welcome…so if you have any comments, complaints, etc at all…send them our way!

 

As a final note, our e-mail response time is improving slowly but surely. It’s still pretty bad, but we’re working on it and making a few steps in the right direction along with everything else.

That’s it for this week – thank you as always and see you next week!

-The ReDeTec team

 

July 17th – Firmware solution posted, EU figured out.

Hi Everyone,

A quick update this week – had hoped to get it out Friday but couldn’t quite get the Sparkfun driver installation figured out.

A short one this week! We’ve gotten our firmware solution fixed and sent off to all of our first run backers…a huge thank you for waiting for us to get this done! The installer and desktop app are now all ready, and the website should reflect how to use everything in the next day or two.

In terms of shipping logistics, we’ve gotten the EU figured out, but are still working with our US tax layer to try and get the US done…their tax laws are way, way more complicated. It’s looking like we might have to incorporate in Delaware, but we’re hoping to know by the end of this week.

Otherwise everything is ticking along on schedule – hopefully we’ve got some more exciting news next week as well!

Thanks,

-The ReDeTec team