Production Notes23 Jan 2007 07:43 pm

The increased flow of new orders is not letting up. If anything it’s getting worse as more people discover the joys of owning a EV. The increase in Z2K orders without a corresponding increase in Z1Ks shows me that a number of people are switching away from Z1K’s to Curtis controllers. I can’t blame them for that; 6 months is a long time to wait for a controller. Still I do feel bad that people have to suffer with a Curtis when they really want a Zilla. For that reason and because I’ve decided that this upward trend may be a longer term upswing, I’m taking steps to speed things up at the shop while trying to keep our costs reasonable.

First I should review. Everything has been going as planned in the last month. Carrie built sub-assemblies while I took a much needed break in warmer weather. I came back to a smooth running shop with piles of stuffed PC boards awaiting test. I expect we can assemble and test a mixed batch of both 1000 and 2000 Amp Zillas this week. This should have us shipping orders placed up to mid August of last year.

As for speeding things up, two events are on the horizon:

First off, we have a new assistant starting Monday. With any luck Jack will turn out to be as helpful as he seems and we’ll be speeding through production. At least until the Fall when he runs off to grad school. I’m hoping that he will help us reel in the backorders faster than ever.

The other action that I hope will help speed things up is that I’ve ordered a used pick and place machine to automate our surface mount PC board assembly. This is not exactly low cost, but I believe it will pay for itself within a few years. The machine is a Quad IVc from the mid 1990’s and with the ability to place 6000 components per hour should be able to handle all of our SMT assembly needs.

On the other side things the news is not all rosy. There are a couple of parts on the Hairball and Zilla that have recently become obsolete with no alternates. As a result I will have to re-layout the PC boards. While I am doing that I’ll be sure to optimize the design for use on the new Quad. I just hope I can complete the new designs and testing before we run out of the critical parts.

So, that’s the latest. Thanks again for your patience.


3 Responses to “More Help Coming”

  1. on 07 Feb 2007 at 10:22 am Mark Jarvis

    I didn’t see mention here, but have you considered farming out the assembly of the Zillas? I know there’s a lot of special magic that goes into building them, and I don’t know how narrow your margins are. I’m a test engineer by trade, and I work with contract manufacturers a lot. Your new pick and place is a nice machine, but with a CM, all that expensive stuff is in someone else’s overhead.

    I’ve simply heard such great things about Zilla controllers, and it’s a shame to lose business due to lead times.

  2. on 08 Feb 2007 at 12:35 pm Otmar

    I’ve tried to farm out the simpler parts of the assembly. That was a key part of my business plan when I moved up to Oregon. Unfortunately I was surprised to find that the CM’s here want even more for labor than the ones in California. I run on some pretty tight margins since I want to see EV’s succeed at the home built level so I can’t do the usual (wasteful) business practices that much of the USA considers normal. I do expect lead times to get better, I just can’t throw the big guns at it with the margins that I run.

  3. on 26 Feb 2007 at 4:10 pm David Boord

    You MIGHT consider MFG.COM. I belong to the site and you can find some pretty good vendors. Just an option you might consider. I sure wish I had one of your products.