In early spring, I went to Taiwan and met with our manufacturing team for the first time. I was back again in June and we had another intensive design review. What does intensive design review mean, you might ask? Well, we start with a group of engineers, the company owners, a project manager, and myself sitting around a table with a huge monitor at one end. We bring up areas of the stroller to look at and scrutinize. We review parts and assemblies in much more detail than we did at the first meeting. At this point we have agreed on the mechanisms and overall geometry, such as the folding linkage and the size of the package. With those types of decisions now complete, we’re starting to look at items with a more micro view, with one exception: the soft goods or fabric portion of the stroller.
In the back of my mind, I knew we needed to look at this, but there were so many other things to do that it was at the end of my list of what I thought we could accomplish in a week…until Daphne brought in sketches of some new fabric concepts at the beginning of our Wednesday morning session that made me say, “Wow!” The great thing about our manufacturer is that they have both artistic and functional types of people on their team. It’s thrilling for me to see input from the artistic side, because concepts rise to the surface that would have never crossed my mind.
The new concept opened up the front and side windows to provide a much more open feel to the child. It’s a big improvement. This type of collaboration is a joy to be a part of. It’s not only because of artistic contributions, but the engineering team and manufacturing team have also contributed so many great ideas to what I had originally brought to them, making the stroller a much stronger product than it was before.
We did chase a few issues involving some outside suppliers, but, as with most projects, things like that will happen. The key is how everyone responds and moves on. And fortunately, with this group, when we had one of these situations, everyone jumped right back in and contributed ideas to get us past what didn’t work.
What are we doing now? From the manufacturing side, we ordered a couple of small pieces of tooling that will allow us to build the new fabric pod and that is underway. Some of the other engineers and myself are working to finalize areas we had to adjust after one of the supplier options didn’t work out.
As soon as these updates are finished, we will build the rest of the first prototype. Please don’t let the words “first prototype” fool you; there have been numerous versions built prior to this. But this is the first one that will be completely done within the manufacturer’s system. That’s a big step, because it will enable us to make more accurate costing estimates for the tooling and manufacturing required.
Thank you for your support.