Holiday seasons are always hectic but it feels like this year sets some kind of record. A lot is happening at Narrative even over the the holidays and we figured we should share with you what’s new since last time.
Second batch shipped last week
We shipped another batch of Narrative Clips the week before Christmas and this time mainly to early backers in Europe. As far as we can see, they seem to have arrived as they should, although some of you might still have your unit in transit. We hope you will all get them in your hands as soon as possible!
While waiting, here are some thoughts (and a picture) from three of the earliest users on what it’s like to use Narrative.
Successful delivery from new supplier
Those of you who’ve been following our updates regularly might remember that we awaited a crucial test during the holidays. As has been described in these previous updates, we’ve experienced serious issues with two of our suppliers (mainly the PCB supplier but also the camera module supplier), rendering a yield (i.e. percentage of assembled units passing quality tests) of finalized Clip units far lower than required. This caused costs and heavy delays and forced us to take the long term necessary decision of replacing these suppliers, a replacement that in itself causes additional heavy delays. Here’s a collection of old updates describing all this in detail.
So what’s the status of those suppliers now? Replacing the camera module supplier with a new one is a process under way and in the meantime we keep purchasing components from the old one. Since the issue is in the yield, the only effect of using the old supplier is that we have slightly higher costs than desired (having to discard more units than necessary). The end quality of each unit is not affected and the camera modules are currently not a bottleneck for the short term production.
The major bottleneck has been the PCBs: it’s been the component with the affect highest to the yield. A few days ago our factory received the first batch of PCBs from the new supplier and after surface mounting the components, the new PCBs have been tested to find out if they will render a higher yield or if we will have to look further to resolve the problems.
The outcome was the one we hoped for: the yield of the new PCBs is near 100%, which is great. We can now move to a new phase of shipping and start scaling up production rate to where we need it to be. There is still a three-week lead time to get the new PCB supplier up to speed, but this was accounted for when we adjusted all shipping dates before the holidays. The camera module supplier is also replaced but as described above it’s not a replacement that we see will significantly affect the production rate in either direction.
What this means for you as a Kickstarter backer or pre-order customer is that the shipping date you see on shipping.getnarrative.com still holds. We have no information at this point that indicates further delays. If we get any indications of further delays, we’ll let you know immediately.
We also want to emphasize that the Clips already shipped all have the high quality we demand. Replacing the suppliers will not improve the quality in an individual unit, but render a higher percentage of assembled units to achieve the high quality standards (i.e improve the yield).
About shipping orders
On a related note, some have asked us how we choose who to ship to first. And how it can be that even though you backed us on Kickstarter on the very first day, your delivery is not coming until many weeks after the first batch.
Basically, we have three governing parameters that control the order of shipments:
1. Time of backing on Kickstarter or placing your pre-order. This is the strongest parameter: we ship only Kickstarter pledge reward units right now and, as far as possible, in the individual order that the pledges were made. After these have all been shipped, we will start shipping to pre-order customers. Remember that we had over 1000 backers the first day on Kickstarter, but the so far low production rate has meant that the deliveries of the rewards for these early pledges have been spread out over more than a month (mid-December to early February). This is why some of you frustratingly have a shipping date in January or February even though you backed us the first day.
2. Color. As described in previous updates, color mixes have been an issue in the mass production. Therefore, we’ve only produced units in one color, namely gray since it was an easy color to mix and one that a lot of you requested. Starting now, we will produce white units and in the next batches orange and black.
3. Geography. To minimize the risk of problems with shipping (including multiple shipping partners, customs, etc) we’ve strived for keeping each batch in geographical areas close to each other. The first batch was to US backers only, the second one almost exclusively to Europeans and this next one will be a mix of the two. For the next batch (estimated for mid January) we expect to be able to ship to all over the world.
TL;DR: new PCB supplier is great so far, the shipping schedule holds and we keep shipping Narrative Clips according to the current schedule. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.
Until next time: Happy New Year!With love,