Update #14 - Ship Hold

My old mentor used to say that mistakes are an opportunity for improvement, and how an organization handle a crisis is what really defines good leadership. Well, we certainly have an opportunity for improvement here. The team at OpenBeam, as well as our manufacturing partners, have been working hard to bring you a quality product. So, imagine how bad it was when I got these pictures in my email box one day:

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Mid last week, the folks at Dan Terry & Associates had already packaged up and readied for shipment all the local Seattle orders (currently transferred to Metrix:Create Space) as well as all the $45, $65, $100 and $300 orders. However, before I called Fedex for a truck to come by and haul the orders away, I wanted to verify that the rate being quoted by Fedex is actually what I would be charged. (Fedex is directly linked to my business checking account, so any issues there would result in a VERY nasty surprise). I also wanted to make sure that the packaging is okay, the package will arrive in one piece, and that my computer kung fu had actually yielded a proper database that Fedex's shipping software parsed correctly and printed me the right shipping labels. To do this, I randomly selected 15 or so backers, based on their packages' weight and final destination, to perform my shipping test. These backers were notified by email.

Since then, we have received numerous reports from all over that kits were missing parts. But the most telling is Craig's pictures above (Thanks Craig for the photos!). The plastic end caps have been shearing off in transit and Fedex has been taping them back on. Sometimes, when there is an end cap, they will reseal it (and leave our backer wondering why their kit only shipped with extrusions). Other times, Fedex does their best to seal the ends up with packing tape, as seen above.

So, for the 15 or so people that had won the OpenBeam test shipping lottery - thank you, for helping us tune the shipping process. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused, and we will take care of you. If your order is damaged, please take pictures of the damage and send it to us and we will ship you a replacement.

With the Forth of July holiday here in the US, our response is unfortunately a little bit slow. Here are the corrective actions that we have taken:

1) We have ordered and received 1000 new metal end caps. These new metal end caps are stamped out of mild steel with a barbed edge, and they dig into the cardboard liner when you try to push them out. They make for a really good seal; you will probably have to cut the tube open to receive your parts when you receive your order.

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2) We have built a laser-cut packaging fixture to secure the extrusions for the wrapping process. This fixture guarantees the position of the extrusion in each of the package and eliminates the variance from different staff members packing the part.

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3) The fixture above also allows us to form an air-tight seal between the extrusion bundle and the wall of the tube by wrapping 3 sheets of pre-cut 4" x 4" foam to the end of the extrusions. This has the effect of floating the extrusion in the middle of the tube to protect it from overzealous package handlers.

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4) We have done some *preliminary* drop testing of the new packaging, and captured it with a 300fps high speed camera for analysis. These are preliminary tests, done in my driveway, duct tape on the packaging and a step ladder to get a warm fuzzy feeling. They are not meant to be final testing to certify that the packaging is holding up.

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5) Based on the analysis, we have concluded that a fiber-reinforced packaging tape is still necessary, even with the metal end caps. We have ordered a crate of heavy duty fiberglass reinforced strapping tape from Uline and we expect to take delivery of this tomorrow. In the mean time I have conducted some drop testing with duct tape as a replacement for fiber-reinforced strapping tape. My package survived 12 drops from over 1 meter onto concrete with very minimal damage to the extrusions. (This is a condition that's unlikely to be encountered during Fedex shipping - the standard loading dock is only 1 meter high and I certainly don't expect my package to be dropped 12 times!)

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6) While Dan Terry's staff have the rest of the week off to celebrate 4th of July with his family, Mr. Dan Terry himself and I will be conducting drop tests on the new packaging tape to validate the final configuration of the packaging. We will share the results of our drop testing with everyone.

We have double-taped all the $45 and $65 pledge rewards and dispatched them via Fedex. For the $100 and above pledge rewards, we have been opening the packages, rechecking the content and repacking them with the metal end caps. So far we have yet to encounter a single instance where the kit was incomplete.

With luck, we will be coming out of ship hold next Monday and resume shipment to our backers.

-=- Terence, Rachel and the furry monster puppy