* This is a duplicate of our last update. Sorry for the double email, but we realized that the last update was not visible to some backers--so here it is again. Everyone should be able to see it now. :) *
We received a box of completed production sample kits and 8X paper packs from our factory, and I can’t tell you how great it is to finally hold the completed kits in my hands, in all their shrink-wrapped glory! Ha! My kids were freaking out excited as we opened the boxes and checked out the sample kits. I’ve posted an unboxing video at the end, but first… a story:
As you know our goal was to be able to start fulfilling orders in February--which meant the deadline for all the kits to leave the factory was no later than the end of January. You see, in February nearly all factories in China, including ours, shuts down for several weeks during Chinese New Year. So, in order to get our shipment loaded into the ocean freight containers in time, the last possible deadline for loading was the end of January.
So our main factory and two other suppliers worked insanely hard to finish production as quickly as possible. I had lots of very late nights getting things coordinated and making sure component deliveries would happen on time. Each supplier worked amazingly hard! They worked tons of overtime, hired extra workers, etc. Our screw supplier finished all 400,000 screws in the nick of time. All of the light pads were delivered just in time. Everything was insanely down to the wire. For several nights in a row I was up at 2 or 3am having skype sessions with the suppliers making sure everything was coming together correctly… It was down to the last possible minute. Finally everything was delivered, packed and ready for final inspection.
You see, when you are manufacturing any product--no matter how long you have been working with a factory--no matter how good they are--you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS hire a trusted inspector to go to the factory and perform a final random inspection of all the goods before you allow the products to leave the factory and accept the shipment. This is the final step in quality control before the products are loaded onto the ship.
So, on the last possible day our inspectors went to the factory and performed a thorough random inspection and sent us their report. So there we were… it was the last possible minute, and everyone was waiting for us to give our approval. The factory workers were standing by to load our goods into the 20-foot shipping container... the guy who would transport the shipping container was there at the factory waiting for our go-ahead… then, as we reviewed the inspection eport we saw that out of all the inspected kits, 40% of the paper packs had incorrectly drilled holes and did not fit the light pads correctly. 40%! So we had no choice but cancelling the shipment. We were disappointed to say the least. Our factory rep was disappointed. The freight forwarder was disappointed. We paid a cancelation fee for the freight container, etc. But there was NO WAY we could accept the shipment, knowing that 40% of the inspected paper packs had incorrectly drilled holes. Something must have happened to the drilling machine which caused some of the paper to be out of alignment, and it simply has to be redone.
Okay, so! Here is what will happen. Our factory is currently closed for the Chinese New Year holiday for a couple more weeks. As soon as they re-open, our factory will remake the flipbook paper. It may be a matter of re-calibrating their drilling machine, or it may be that we have to use a different method like die cutting instead of drilling. One way or another the factory agreed to our specs and tolerances, so it’s on them to fix it.
We will send our inspector to be on site at the factory while the new paper is being made. And as soon as the new paper is inspected and approved, we will be able to give the green light to ship the cargo.
After the new paper is approved, the kits will be repacked and loaded into big shipping containers and loaded onto the ship for ocean freighting. The cargo will be on the ocean for 3-4 weeks and then--after clearing customs--will be delivered to our fulfillment centers. We are using fulfillment centers in 4 locations to handle all the shipping for each major region of the world.
Let me just say that while this was a frustrating situation, it’s a good thing we did our final inspection! And while finding this issue was extremely disappointing… I am glad we caught it just in time. Everyone involved was disappointed, especially as the factory and suppliers had worked so much overtime and worked so hard to deliver in time. But we had to make the right call, even knowing it would disappoint some people.
What does this mean for shipping? We would have been on track to start shipping orders by the end of this month, but with the factory being on holiday for Chinese New Year right now, and with the paper being remade, it may be April before we can begin fulfilling orders.
I have always been a people pleaser and hate disappointing anyone, so it’s never easy writing updates like this. I told myself going into this that I should expect the unexpected, that there may be obstacles which I couldn’t predict. And this was definitely one of them.
I’m glad you’re along with me for the ride. We are so close to the finish line!
After our factory staff is back from holiday, I will coordinate with them and post another update with more accurate timeline info.
And now… I am super excited about how the production samples have turned out, so check out the unboxing video below! This might be spoilery... so if you’d rather be surprised when you open your kits, don’t watch this video. But I just had to show you this. Enjoy.