April 2020 Progress Update
May 07, 2020
Dear Kniterate community,
We continue to make progress, albeit slow, in delivering the remaining machines. The good news is that we expect to be shipping units again between May and June.
This quarter we hope to pick up from where we left at the beginning of the year. We want to recover the excitement that we all experienced shipping Kniterate’s first units and putting it in the hand of our users for the first time.
We really appreciate your incredible understanding and emails of support during these difficult circumstances. You have all shown a level of patience that we don’t take for granted!
We realize that some of you have considered our communications insufficient. We aim to balance our work as a small team with communicating progress. Our goal is to communicate every month, but we have not done this consistently, we are sorry.
Having said that and for those not aware, our community is open to everyone and we are always happy to answer any questions you have there. We actively check the boards and try our best to respond in a timely and transparent manner.
Now, let’s see what the team has been up to!
On the previous update, we shared how we had to move the production of the electronics between countries as we escaped lockdowns. From China to the US and then back to China. We finally managed to get all the components into China and resume the manufacturing process.
This means that after a slow comeback, our factory is now up and running again. We are calibrating and testing the remainder of the Early Bird units before shipping them. As discussed, we now expect to start shipping these units between May and June.
Another important factor slowing our manufacturing productivity is the fact that travel restrictions currently in place make it impossible for our team to travel to China and supervise production.
Since our last update, we’ve been working hard on making the Chinese team more independent. We have done so by developing documentation, systems, and processes to keep track of the progress they are making and ensuring we can keep the quality of the machines consistent and to our standards.
We have increased the number of daily video calls, allowing us to be more “present” at the factory. We have also introduced new cloud-based inventory tools and are sharing more media, which allows us to log all the details related to each machine and follow it from work in progress inventory to a unit ready to be shipped.
As for the production of the next batches, we want to be extremely careful about committing to the forecasts we are sharing. We are aware this will make the timeline on the Machine Backers board somewhat elusive.
We have started ordering parts for the next units but there are observations we want to share. Some of our suppliers have shifted their manufacturing capabilities to support the current global PPE needs. Either they are producing masks or they are providing components to manufacture mask production machines. This means that the supply chain remains highly sensitive to the cycles of the pandemic.
Furthermore, when available, suppliers will have backlogs and we will be competing to be prioritized for their capacity while balancing our own. This may require us to be flexible with the quantities we order and it will have an impact on our ability to produce at scale.
We will have to adapt, scaling up or down our monthly production until things get back to normal.
What does this mean for you? We will continue to ship machines monthly but potentially not at the speed we predicted in Q1. We all want to see more machines in the hands of their backers, particularly in a time like this, but we don’t want to sugarcoat the circumstances: given the current situation, at times, it may well feel frustrating.
We will, of course, prioritize shipping the units of those who have paid the full price of their machine, which means that those who have only paid the deposit may have to wait more than they expected. We hope that the extra time to pay the remaining balance is welcome news at this time of uncertainty.
Over the last weeks we’ve been mainly working on a bug we found on the compiler and some front end enhancements.
That bug is now fixed and it is possible to generate k-code from your designs. It was a bug that wasn’t catching long floats, originated from an incorrect arrangement of elements during the design process, that could compromise the success of your knit job and even the integrity of the machine.
Along with this bug fix, we’ve implemented the first version of an error reporter that points out these invalid arrangements. We will continue to enhance the error reporter to make it easier to fix mistakes and to offer insight on the workings of the machine.
Other improvements go around the ability to have more control over the yarn feeders. You can now choose the feeder you want to use to create your stitches and structures and swap colors for a better representation of the final output.
You can find more information in the machine backers only forum, link here.
Learning how to use your Kniterate
This is exciting! We’ve been producing video tutorials on how to use the machine for a few months and we are excited to share them with you today. These series show the basics of the machine, its parts, and how to keep the machine running well for a long time.
The instructions manual, which we are updating, is still the main source of information, but the videos complement it nicely, illustrating some of the information contained there but also providing new instructions in a consumption-friendly format.
Special thanks go to London-based knitwear designer Valentina Karellas for lending her amazing voice to our videos.
You can view the videos on the playlist by clicking on the top-right icon in the video.
If you’re considering ordering a Kniterate in 2020 we’d love to connect with you. Please complete this form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.
Do you have some time to spare?
Over time we have created a number of surveys. If you’re new to the community or missed them when they were published, we’d love to hear from you. If you have already answered, thank you!
This is all for now, we are looking to share another update before the month ends, with thought-pieces by the team.
Thank you for reading!