A good start to 2015
The new year has got off to a busy start, but we've been making good progress. The focus this month has been on refining the components and rehearsing bag production.
This next milestone, scheduled for this month, has been to produce the first small batch of Wolffepacks. Before now we have only produced one bag at a time, so it is encouraging that we have just succeeded in producing a small batch of pre-production samples.
This stage includes moving the components from being produced one at a time by 3D printing techniques, to production on high volume advanced machines. It involves intense time in reviewing the new parts, and working with the experts in the manufacturing team on getting the details exactly right.
So to share with you a flavour of the last few weeks, here is a look at some of the technology we are using, the raw materials we have ordered, and what the batch looks like during assembly.
Technology with personality
Before the aesthetic design and textiles of the Wolffepack wrap around the technology of the expetoSYSTEM, we have to produce the custom components that make the unique function work.
The advanced machines that are capable of producing the Wolffepack components in large quantities use the latest techniques. They are amazing to watch in action, and seem to have an organic quality, almost a personality.
The hi-tech injection moulding machines to produce parts like the Wolffepack handle, use robotics to control the movement but also the moulds themselves almost have a human face....
...and the spring inside the handle is made by high-precision machines that seem to weave like spiders...
At the bag factory we have been gearing up and now have all the raw materials to prepare the first volume production run. This means the textiles for the Wolffepacks are now in stock and have been cut to shape, ready for the stitching and assembly.
Here is the Dyneema cord all spooled up, before it is carefully cut to length and sealed for assembly....
The first batch in progress
Part of the process of preparing for the first full production run is to test each stage of assembly, and to check the performance of the Wolffepack after every step.
The first small batch is a significant learning process for the manufacturing, and also gives us more units to test in the field. These are both important in helping us get the product right before shipping to our end users. As a result, in the last couple of weeks we've made a number of improvements to our plans, which all means the preparations are going well.
This batch has 2 jobs to do. Firstly it will be starring at the ISPO trade show in Germany next week, and then it will be helping out with the validation and testing of the new components and construction.
It has been very exciting seeing the Wolffepack parts gathering in small piles, and it shows that we are making good progress on our journey to full production. This is how it is starting to look on shoulder straps....
So onwards we continue, with the ISPO trade show and more testing and preparation planned for February, and the full production run to follow after.