Another quick blurb from us this week!
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.
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!
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