And... we're shipping!
It's been a busy two weeks since our last update. The most important news to report is: we're shipping!
On Monday, we shipped 1200 blink(1)s to our fulfillment house, Fulfillrite. The wonderful people there should receive it early next week and start shipping them out to you shortly after that. They are based in New Jersey so don't be alarmed that it's not coming from California. We will try to ship in the order that people backed.
Next Monday we will ship out at least an additional 1200 blink(1) units. Why aren't we shipping all of them at once? Because we have to have a...
blink(1) Assembly Party
Almost two weeks ago we had our first "blink(1) assembly party". This is where we get together as many of the extended ThingM family together to do the final assembly, QA, and packaging of the blink(1)s. It turns out it takes quite a bit of work to do this final step.
Here's what one of those parties looked like:
We fast discovered an efficient assembly process was:
- Take electronics ESD packet and liberate 25 blink(1) electronics boards onto ESD mat
- Inspect electronic board for "bump"; if bad put in reject pile
- Snap electronic board into plastic case bottom
- Snap metal case tops onto case bottom
- Clean and Inspect finished blink(1); if bad put in reject pile
- Place blink(1) in holding box
- Repeat with another electronics packet
Then we had a separate packaging process:
- Fetch blink(1) unit from holding box
- Quick inspect to make sure it's good
- Fetch white blink(1) box
- Inspect box for blemishes; if bad put in reject pile
- Insert blink(1) into box
- Put blink(1) box into to-be-shipped box
Once we get going, these processes allow us to assemble, QA, and box up about 100 blink(1)s per person per hour. All that snapping gets your fingers pretty sore after a while.
Effusive thanks to Carlyn, Abe, Amber, Kim, and Ben, our inaugural assembly party people!
You may have noticed in the process above, we can kick out components into a reject pile. This is expected. Whenever you make thousands of something, some will not meet your criteria. We try to have multiple points of inspection to catch any issues. And we have ways to recover from the loss of those rejected parts.
For instance, while the electronics have previously been tested to be good, we found that some had solder bumps on the USB jack that made it difficult to snap the board into the case. The fix for this is easy: a quick snip with diagonal cutters shears off the solder bump and the board can be used.
Another issue is with the milled aluminum enclosure tops. Besides needing cleaning to remove trace amounts of cutting fluid residue, there were a few with obvious manufacturing mistakes.
Here's the three examples we've seen. On the left, the part was apparently only milled on one side, leaving the top large and flat. In the middle example, the piece is slanted to the right, perhaps because the piece wasn't level when milled. On the right, there is a blemish in the metal that looks kind of like a freckle. It's cute, but not part of our design.
We recover from these issues by ordering extra tops, assuming some would have problems. I'm pretty impressed we've only had a handful of bad tops.
A third issue we've experienced during assembly is that some of retail blink(1) boxes got damaged during shipment. We didn't expect this, but when we contacted our box maker, they agreed to ship us some extra boxes to make up for it. Here's what that damage looks like:
The awesome folks at IFTTT.com have received their pre-production blink(1)s and have been experimenting with integrating them IFTTT recipe output actions. We'll have more details soon. If you don't have an IFTTT login yet, go get one! It's an incredible resource and will be the easiest way to get info from Net-based services displayed on your blink(1).
So look for a blink(1) channel on the IFTTT channels page soon.
Just a reminder, you can pre-order extra blink(1)s on our new shop: http://shop.thingm.com/
Note this is for pre-orders and they will only be shipped after all shipments to our Kickstarter backers have been completed.
To everyone in the US, have a Happy Thanksgiving! And to everyone outside of the US, have a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a great holiday for everyone, a celebration of food with friends. It does mean we'll need to move blink(1) packing off the dining room table for a day, but we'll be back at it on Friday. With our belts set a notch looser. :-)