The summer is finally here, the bees are buzzing all around and our production hall is an equally busy hive of activity. With the production flow constantly improving and becoming more efficient, our entire team enjoys it even more to manufacture, test and ship more and more Heatles. Just like for Christmas, we’ve enabled our staff to work on weekends in order to move faster, so our facility doors practically never close.
We are still on track to ship all preorders within summer, and we don’t see any reasons for delays now that things are running smoothly. We are wary of the upcoming summer holiday season and we will do our best to plan our resources accordingly in order to maintain a steady outflow of shipments. Our production partners and suppliers are committed to the same goals and everyone is pushing very hard in order to catch up with delays in the past.
Many of you are curious and can hardly wait for your Heatle. To give you a rough idea: should everything go according to plan, we intend to ship the orders with numbers up to 236XXX in June and July, and the orders with 237XXX upwards in July and August. These are our rough estimates based on the agreed production planning, because all processes are largely dependent on the human factor (illness, vacation, etc.), which may cause deviations.
What happened so far
Manufacturing in Germany isn’t as quick and simple as we wish it were, the main issues being bureaucracy and the massive lack of qualified personnel, but we already started our mass production here and we are committed to finishing it in Berlin in a timely manner, given that we were lucky to find and employ talented and hard-working employees primarily for production and logistics.
In the past months, whilst trying to ramp up the production of our quite sophisticated components (made in Berlin), we had to change partners a couple of times, which resulted in unforeseeable delays in production.
As of now, we signed an agreement with new larger suppliers who can guarantee a high output at premier quality which will enable us to finish production in summer.
Photo above: our team members in PCB production soldering some THT components.
David and his team of engineers (in white coats) carry out regular quality checks on circuit boards at regional suppliers.
Once the main boards are done, they are transported to our production facility for further assembly and QA steps. As you can see above there is a constant bustle of activitiy. Photo above. Heatles stacked in various stages of production, final test and packaging.
The main assembly of the PCBs into the Heatle housing is one of the most time-consuming stages, but our team has become extremely proficient at this task, whilst maintaining the highest of standards of quality.
Every board is already tested and programmed by our PCB supplier. Our own team is mainly focused on assembly, testing and shipping.
Before a Heatle is put to the real heating test, it is being thoroughly examined and tested in a secure environment, as well as registered in our internal database for future management. Only then the protective foil, as seen on the picture above, is removed and the heating process (stress test) is performed.
If you’re following us on social media, you probably have seen our amazing test rig which can simultaneously test 4 Heatles at once, boiling water for a significant amount of time which is essentially a live stress test. The water is being constantly circulated and cooled by an industrial chiller.
After the successful boiling test, the Heatles are waiting to be packaged and shipped to customers all over Europe.
In our packaging station, we clean the Heatles and check your shopping history to make sure you receive the right colors, plugs and accessories.
After packaging, the orders are being prepared for DHL to pick them up as soon as possible. As you can read on all DHL delivery trucks nowadays, they are actively looking for employees. In our own experience, if our driver is sick, there is usually no replacement and the packages remain in our premises for a few more days until they can be picked up.
This is Lars, our regular DHL delivery guy. You have probably seen him on photos in previous updates. He often fills his truck to the ceiling with Heatle boxes. In this picture, all the shelves are filled with our products. The boxes on the top right contain 2 or more Heatles. Lars works extra hours and has many extra vacation days, so every couple of weeks he checks out and we need to convince his substitutes to pick up more Heatles than they are contractually obliged to do.
Peter picks up a few days per month, usually when Lars is out. We scared him at first when he saw our amounts, but now he is used to picking up loads of boxes from our office.
When the drivers arrive, we always mobilize the production team to help load the packages into the truck. Everyone is trying to help.
Some drivers prefer to load the boxes by themselves. They say they consider it a workout since they are usually too tired to go to the gym after a hard day’s work.
During one week in May, we had no pickups at all (we talked about it on Instagram). Michael’s Heatle was already packed and labeled, waiting to be delivered. When he saw our Instagram story, he asked whether he could pick it up somewhere. Our office was quite far away from his home, so we agreed to meet halfway. This is also a great opportunity to meet face to face, have a chat and understand more about each other.
Some customers prefer to drop by in person to pick up their packages. These young men came all the way from the Baltic sea.
Research and Development
Production isn’t just about assembly. Our engineers are constantly working on improving work flows and efficiency, like optimizing the flashing processes and making sure that the database is being populated and maintained properly.
Hai (electronics engineer), Anton (back-end engineer) and Marcin (embedded engineer) are validating our new flashing technology and process which will facilitate the production team.
Even though we are fully consumed by the mass production, we never stop innovating or optimizing. Here you can see an experimental draft of our new upcoming accessory - a single tray made of glass, our “Glass Tray”. It’s not just beautiful, but also sustainable, easy to clean and versatile. The new glass trays will be one single design for all 3 disc sizes, which is convenient for both users and our production and logistics. And the best part is: you will finally be able to buy separate disc sizes, without being forced to buy the Triple - which is valuable feedback from our customers that we immediately acted upon.
We will share the actual design in the next update. You will be able to order the Glass Tray from autumn onwards.
Speaking of customer feedback, this customer 3D-printed an accessory to reduce noise from the disc vibrating against the glass. We absolutely love and encourage this sort of creativity! These IKEA glasses have the same diameter at the bottom, which creates jingling sounds during heating.
It’s amazing for us to see when our customers become creative and come up with great ideas and solutions. When it comes to this specific issue, we are almost done developing an accessory which solves this problem as well as a few others. We talked about it in the previous updates and will share more information in the next one.
In other news
It’s been over 4 years since we started working on Heatle, and due to a couple of other anniversaries this month, Lavdim baked a super tasty Heatle Cake.
At this scale, you can’t even tell the cake apart from the real Heatles. A great team deserves a great cake. Many thanks, Lavdim!
David went to PCIM in Nürnberg to meet with our global suppliers and partners. One of them, Avnet, exhibited a Heatle operated by a robotic arm which would plunge the Rod into the cup and remove it afterwards. Two incredibly exciting technologies in one showcase!