I’ve been doing some evaluations on products, packaging, and pricing lately. Most newer products have been of a complexity level that requires boxes, but legacy items I’ve still been shipping in plastic bags. As time progresses I’ve ended up with about a 50/50 mix of bagged and boxed product. The boxed items of course need labels to identify what’s in them, and I’ve also been applying RoHS labels to larger for the past couple weeks as I remember to apply them. This has made the bagged items look pretty cheaply packaged by comparison. Order sizes have also been increasing, which means a greater risk of product damage during shipping if in a loose baggie. I’m not having any issues yet with damage during shipping. I just want to be proactive about it before problems start.
So I’m going to be working to transition as many items as I can to individually boxed packages, with product labels. Another step forward in making my products look professional, plus better protective packaging for customers who don’t like receiving broken stuff. I’ve also finally run out of clear plastic 3×5 bags, and anything getting packaged from this point forward will have pink anti-static bags when appropriate. I’ve already started to use the boxes in order to test out viability of different package sizes, so you’re going to be seeing them on any orders from now on. The trade-off is that it will take me a bit more time to package items, packaging costs are going to increase a bit, and product will consume more storage space. This means items that I move from bagged to boxed packaging will have to see a $0.50 price increase starting on January 1st. Affected items will be the lamp matrix tester, switch matrix tester, solenoid output tester, special solenoid input tester, and diagnostic input switches.
I don’t know yet how much of an effect this will have on shipping costs, but for the time being I’ll be keeping my flat rate shipping prices the same. However there is a possibility that the extra weight and volume will dictate an increase in shipping price as well. It all depends on how many things get bumped from first class to priority mail.
Things are pretty slow right now so I am taking advantage of this opportunity to clear up some workspace issues.
The bad news is, I’ve been completely unable to find the layout files on the 2532/2732 adapter boards. They’re just flat-out gone somehow. Thankfully it’s not a complex layout and it only took me a couple hours to do a fresh version that included most of the changes I wanted to include. This means I can order a new batch any time I want, and I want to order a new batch pretty darned soon.
This spurred me to action. I’ve pulled the hard drive out of my old busted laptop which still contains some critical layout files, such as the originals on the drop target slider boards and Firepower EPROM adapters. A cable is on the way to allow me to plug the drive into my desktop and access the darned things already. Though I can’t currently access it, as the front USB connectors on my desktop have bad connectors, so tonight or tomorrow I’ll be getting off my lazy behind and installing the new parts that have been wandering across my workbench for at least a year.
I’ve also ordered a new DVD drive for my desktop as well. When I last upgraded my motherboard, it only had SATA drive controllers, and my old DVD burner was IDE only. I never got around to rectifying this, but want to get a functioning drive again.
This is leading into a lot of file management cleanup on my PC, workbench cleaning, and all that fun stuff. Hopefully this makes life easier, it will at least make my work area more presentable when we have visitors.
One area I badly need to get under control, and quickly, is managing my projects from a digital standpoint. I wanted to start working on the updates for the 2732/2532 adapter in order to plan the new run…. and I can’t find the stinking gerber files anywhere! I’m getting ‘better’, but my handling of board data files is an absolute mess right now. I hope I don’t have to re-draw the thing. I also wonder if it might not be on the dead laptop I’ve never gotten around to fixing the screen for. At this point I think I’ll just pull the hard drive, buy and adapter, and dump it to my desktop. I have a few projects on there which I need back, in order to easily do new runs.
Anyway, that’s the only real problem right now. Otherwise a restock on the Pinforge NVRAM adapters should be happening shortly.
Not much else for product updates in the near future.
Good News! I just packaged up and did the postage for the last pending customer order I had. Everybody that has paid for products now has it en-route to them. It’s been a pretty busy week and a half of near constant assembly work, when I wasn’t at my day job or taking care of other important obligations. I haven’t added up the monthly totals yet for the 4th quarter, but I can easily say that 4th Quarter 2014 has been the best quarter I’ve had as a company. For this I owe my customers some very sincere gratitude. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be here as a business.
This gives me a bit of breathing room, and lets me start looking into 2015’s capital purchases. I have a good number of ideas on things I’d like, but I have to also focus on what I actually NEED. It is nice to have some budget again for improving production. I just need to be smart about it.
This doesn’t mean I can relax for long. Inventory is still badly depleted and I have a lot of assembly to do in order to restock it again. That and I need to start planning for MGC.
Either way….. I at least get a night off.