The China Wrap-Up
Part 2 of our Enertion China documentary
As most of you know, the Enertion team have spent the last 2 weeks in China with the objective to audit and improve QC processes at the manufacturing and assembly level. Another critical element of this trip was to address problems that we’ve encountered with our freight forwarder, and working on ways to improve the efficiency with which we fulfil our customer orders.
We’ve also been documenting this whole process on film, to give everyone insights into the problems we’ve encountered along the way, how we’ve solved them, what it’s like doing business in China, and the reality of taking a wild concept all the way through to mass production.
Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day workings of Enertion, where it’s status quo that we are consistently behind on delayed shipments of boards to hundreds upon hundreds of waiting customers, despite having shipped out more than 600 boards so far. Combined with QC issues that we’ve identified at the manufacturing and assembly level, it can be hard to see any positives, and detractors will always be the first to reaffirm these with unbridled passion.
Bara, our Quality Assurance manager, leading the way and showing what's required
to build the R2 to proper specification
The entire leg of the trip dedicated to auditing and reviewing the assembly process and management structure of our assembly team has yielded great positives. The mantra we left them was simple –
Make the boards the right way, and don’t send out anything that doesn’t work.
Teams need effective leaders. We knew it was absolutely vital to communicate all our QC issues directly to the assembly line manager. Our first few days with the assembly factory was spent with our Project Manager to set the standards and procedures for producing the Raptor 2 to it's required specification.
We believe that when our customers receive their Raptors, they will be ecstatic over the performance and reliability of their new boards.
Effective meetings with the leadership of the assembly and production team were a key part
to ensuring that clear expectations have been set for production Raptor 2s
Our assembly line manager instructing his crew - this took place before each and every
production session, addressing key points for various steps in Raptor 2 assembly
August production: The speed vs quality battle
With so many customers lined up for a Raptor 2, rushing production runs in the past has shown us quite clearly that the sacrifice that often results in terms of quality is, to be put simply, not worth it. Customers don’t get a damned fine electric skateboard in the mail, and we don’t get to send something we’re proud of.
Rather than push to make as many skateboards as possible before the end of August, we have taken the approach of making sure everything is done right, even at the expense of finishing our August production batch of 250 before the end of the month. We know this is going to piss off some people – but hey, if we send out a board that’s not right, it’s even worse – so the assembly to complete this batch is being done with one sole purpose in mind: to build high-quality boards. This is likely to only take a week, but could take up to two, to complete the run of 250.
Tracking numbers for approximately 100 orders will become available over the next week, with more to follow as more boards are completed each day.
August production bottleneck: Motors
While production delays are never ideal, these were ultimately related to not receiving sufficient stock of motors in due time for production – it’s become abundantly clear that lead times that suppliers give us are almost never accurate, and even our new motor factory suffers from this problem. 30 days in China just isn’t 30 days in the rest of the world.
The great news is that our production factory is now up to speed and delivering 100 motors a day to our assembly team.
Software incompatibility - motors
In testing of our latest batch of motors, we’ve discovered the root cause of some previous customers experiencing stuttering (otherwise known as ‘cogging’). It’s become evident that the software that had been used to configure these motors could have slightly different parameters to the default values set in the software. In most cases riders have had no issues (as their motor values matched the software’s values), but in situations where a motor’s values did not match those inside the R2’s FOCBOXES, stuttering (aka cogging) could occur.
If you are experiencing erratic motor behaviour, please follow this guide to recalibrate your motors for optimal performance. Do not run this guide with new (silver) motors.
Please note: Customers receiving boards with new motors (i.e. silver in colour) have already had their motors calibrated using our production line setup procedure, and as such do NOT require any re-calibration.
Days upon days of testing, fuelled by syrupy Chinese versions of energy drinks, have yielded the answer to
a long-standing problem, and prevented this from affecting users ever again!
Old motors vs new
Although aesthetics have changed, the performance of our R-Spec motors remains the same
Aside from cosmetic changes (most noticeably the change from matte black to a shiny chrome finish), the performance of all of our motors should remain the same. The main difference in moving to our new motor factory has been access to more stringent testing equipment and processes allowing a lower IQC failure rate. We took the chance to change the look of these new motors to give the Raptor 2 some chrome detailing - we hope you think it's as sexy as we do!
Quality Control - Decks
IQC procedures for decks have been found to be inadequate leading up to now, and despite moving to a new, well-established deck factory, we’ve seen 2 aesthetic problems arise – the first being that the deck factory we employ have the tendency to cover blemishes occurring during the production process with pigment that is too concentrated, possibly leaving some darker marks on areas of the deck. While these are not concerning for almost all riders, since boards start getting marked up on day 1, we still understand that feeling that you want to get when you unveil the Raptor 2 for the very first time, and want everything to be perfect - so you can scuff it up with your own mad riding skills. We’re working with the deck factory to improve this in future, and implemented AQL checks on all incoming deck stock.
The packaging that our deck factory used to send our last order of decks was also far too light, which meant that the uber-aggressive-grip-tape-hide of the Raptor 2 could potentially scratch the stored deck above it. Although the marks are extremely minor in most cases, and all boards will likely end up scratched from the first ride onwards, we understand it’s left some Raptor Riders wondering if they’d received ‘a used deck’. We can assure you that you haven’t!
We are working closely with our deck factory to improve and replace processes currently
resulting in minor (but infuriating) cosmetic damage
- What do I do if i'm not going to be home to receive a shipment?
- Why isn't my tracking number updating?
FINALLY, these controllers are back in stock, so any backorders and replacement orders will be sent out in the fastest time possible over the next few days.
These wheels and outwheels are due back in stock from next week onwards.
Aside from the previous batch's wheel concentricity problem (previously mentioned in our last update,) we have also requested that all outwheels have their width shortened by 2mm, so as to allow a more precise fitment to the motors of the Raptor 2. In previous outwheel revisions, the slight overhang could increase the possibility of the outwheel being damaged, particularly in the case of heavy riders who like to carve it up like a Sunday roast.
These new wheels and outwheels are due to be completed and received by our forwarder within the next two weeks.
RAPTOR WORLD TOUR CONTINUES
Next event in LA!
Barcelona - Aug 5th
Paris - Aug 11th
Amsterdam - Aug 18th
And London. - Aug 25th
LA - Sept 15th
San Francisco - Sept 16th
Chicago - Sept 18th
New York City - Sept 22nd
Montreal - Sept 29th
Toronto - October 6th
Vancouver - Oct 14th
San Diego - October 18th
And finally Las Vegas, where we will be participating in the Esk8 Renegade event. Oct 19th-21st.
We've now locked in dates for Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, and can't wait to see you there!
Apart from the newly designed decks and handles which have been implemented to improve rider usability and comfort, we've taken the opportunity to add a few little touches to the deck's aesthetic design.
We look forward to unveiling the new e-tray with integrated switch (and most likely Bluetooth as well!), that will be used for Raptor 2.1 production.
The 2.1's deck will feature new blue accents on 2 of the deck's layers