Over the past two weeks production has continued and accelerated, as we've shipped 176 boards. Check out some pictures and videos of our shop in action:
Earlier this month we encountered some delays in production that we have now solved.
Delay for rear hangers
During the Beta process we determined that we needed to adjust the way we mounted motor arms, as the way we were mounting them previously was occasionally moved out of position due to curb impacts and vibration, causing the belt to slip. Incorrectly mounted motor arms had to be replaced, and the design and hardware used have since been updated. Because of this, we made a large new order in January but Chinese New Year and other production and logistical issues meant they did not arrive until several weeks ago. When production was initially complete we learned that that manufacturer had made the mistake shown below:
The axle on the drive wheel side had been cut too short, meaning there would not be enough thread to mount the wheel nut. This entire batch of rear hangers had to be thrown away and a new production run was started immediately. Once these rear hangers were received we were able to immediately restart shipping out boards.
Additional testing required for each board before shipping
In April we were hearing from a portion of customers that their boards had issues on arrival. We had each of these boards shipped back to our shop to be analyzed and fixed and more importantly to determine where in our manufacturing and testing process they deviated from our protocols. We've been revamping our manufacturing and testing processes and our last two batches of boards have been our most consistent, best riding yet.
Finding a balance point between manufacturing speed and consistency has been a challenge. In the past month as we have been tweaking our manufacturing process and we did not feel comfortable bringing on additional staff to speed things up. We wanted to make sure that the building / testing processes were 100% dialed in before training new people on them. We now have fully documented this process and added increased testing at each stage of production. Starting next week we are training new assembly mechanics so we can increase our output.
Shipping Schedule Going Forward
Our new hires will have a positive impact on our output and the delivery schedule. We know we have to begin shipping more boards, faster. We're working to do that. For best accuracy, we will post an updated schedule in two weeks after assessing the incremental increases in output that additional staff will give us.
Since we are US-based, the handful of issues encountered with boards built in Jan – March have affected the international shipment schedule. We have decided to delay international shipments until we can get verification from recent board recipients that the latest refinements have eliminated the issue rate and increased board consistency.
We have a network in place to maintain boards internationally but it is extremely important for the boards shipping overseas to have a high level of consistency as we can't expect our maintenance partners abroad to be able to handle the volume of corner cases we saw in boards built from Jan - March.
We recognize your frustration with the lack of speed and communication regarding these orders and we do not take these delays lightly. All in we feel the delays are necessary in order for you to receive a board that works great out of the box and for hundreds of miles into the future.
ZBoarders in Action
One of the highlights of the week is receiving pictures and videos from customers enjoying the Z2 all over the country. Be sure to email your pictures and videos into firstname.lastname@example.org or tag them with #zboard to have them featured. Here are some of our favorites from April:
Jerome in Utah
Eddie riding around Boston
Matt doing some trailriding in Georgia
Kyle and Jay riding in Santa Cruz
Jeremy riding hands-free in Denver
Ryan at the end of the pavement in Florida
Marty in California
James using the Z2 on the NYC Subway
From the Founders
Scaling up manufacturing has been quite a challenge. We looked at contract manufacturers to potentially expedite the process but in the end we decided that it was extremely important for us to have our own team's eyes and feet on every single board at this stage. This is a decision that requires patience from both our internal team and customers but we believe it is the best way to ensure the highest quality.
Thanks for your patience and we can't wait to get you riding.