Hiku Production Update 4

Dear Backers,

We continue to be impressed at the depth of knowledge of commenters and the fascinating coffee hardware discussions. Hiku for sure must have some of the most passionate and discerning backers ever!

Although we don’t spend much time surfing Kickstarter or reading through other campaigns, we do have the unique opportunity to meet and work with entrepreneurs, investors and engineers on a regular basis. In our opinion, these are some of the most focussed, driven individuals one could ever encounter and we are inspired the most by people who are able to maintain that fine balance of optimism and realism.

Product development is such a diverse discipline. Every project gives our team new opportunities to demonstrate how to cope with anticipated and unanticipated problems. Creating innovative products is a challenge because new ground has to be covered and the path forward isn’t always obvious. We do our best to manage this uncertainty with sound design practices, reviews, testing, and careful anticipation and planning. We remind ourselves to go out of our way to look for problems, and never to be surprised that problems are happening, even when the plan seems solid and proven.

As you can probably tell, we didn’t hire a PR firm to control or “craft” our messaging. We prefer to do it ourselves, and this direct engagement provides all the reality we need. It’s difficult to explain to eternal optimists that we just have to keep working when it looks like we are nearly done. Or that we might have a few problems but “imagine how bad it would be if we didn’t anticipate this or that”. As much as some think that development proceeds in serial fashion towards production, at which point everything happens all in parallel — we know it’s never like that. At this stage of the project, we look to close off outstanding loose ends, we try to make decisions that contain the risk and uncertainty, and we prepare to solve problems — both expected and unexpected.

Hopefully that gives you some context for the way that we think about scheduling and the project details that we are providing in the following sections.

Vendor Selection

Complete. We had shortlisted vendors before the campaign closed and it took us about 6 weeks to nail down all orders, negotiate pricing and acceptable terms, and to identify DFM, process issues, and exact material selection. We are working primarily with known vendors as mentioned some time ago. We have specific vendor terms and conditions that we require for a supplier to win business.

Hiku Enclosure

The enclosure consists of several key components and supporting parts in aluminum. As stated before, this was the first category under design freeze. Some parts required tooling and others do not. Those that didn’t require tooling are expected to arrive in pilot production sample form before mid April. Those that required tooling are expected to arrive as pilot production samples before the end of April. Once this set of components was released, our changes were immediately heavily constrained, making it easy to focus on...

Hiku Lid, Cup and Handle

The lid and cup were released two weeks ago and at least the cup is expected in pilot production form before the end of April. The handle is in tooling and samples are anticipated for the end of April, or worst case early May. These parts were staged after the enclosure parts due to the need for more fine tuning. Previous updates discussed the lid, cup and handle changes at length which led up to design freeze.

Fasteners and Supporting Components (non custom)

Off the shelf components such as bearings, screws were identified and either ordered or just about to be ordered. If anything in this category has not been ordered yet, it is because there are no lead time issues here. We’ll need to keep monitoring this closely, as it might not be perfectly smooth sailing if we don’t.

Custom Fasteners and Supporting Components

In this category are custom gaskets, custom fasteners, elastomer parts, and the components comprising the stepless adjustment mechanism, among other things. The parts related to the adjustment have not been released to production. These parts must be staged last because they depend on everything that came before. We will have the opportunity to measure some pilot production samples from categories above in early April before releasing these final parts to production. This might take us one more week.

Schedule Impact

Given that our standard disclaimers apply, with the best information we have today and a reasonable amount of time allocated to shipping, pilot sample checking and validation, we maintain a small (but not realistic) chance of shipping our first few Hikus to backers at the end of May. More likely would be for those first units to leave in June and for significant quantities to be shipping in the June or July timeframe. We usually get very good results with first shot off-tool parts but at least one round of fine adjustments or improvements might be necessary before we approve mass production.

HALT Testing

Our HALT fixture continues to run with the full Hiku assembly installed. We have been swapping parts to gather more data and for comparison purposes. Every bit of data helps, but it’s true that we learn more when things fail or break. Nothing has broken yet outside of a few spun bearings that we were trying to stress purposely.

Summary

This was a rather lengthy update with a lot of information about both our project status and our philosophy as it relates to project execution. We’re thinking a future update to address the topic of quality checking / quality assurance might be interesting for backers. We would attempt to explain how we work with suppliers to ensure we have maximized the probability of success with the fewest iterations.

Thanks for following this far, and please do let us know if we’re maintaining the geek speak at a desirable level!

Sincerely,

Amanda and team

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