Overall, we are still keeping to the schedule to start shipments in December 2017. However, since the tool refinement process took longer than anticipated, we will skip the showcase events detailed in the the updated schedule.
The Massive Scale of Arist Tooling
In previous updates, we shared some examples of the challenges we’ve encountered in bringing the Arist into production. And many of these challenges appeared when the Arist went into tooling. We’ve used the word “tooling” quite a bit in our updates when we talked about manufacturing so here’s a quick explanation for anyone who forgot:
Tooling is the process of acquiring/making the manufacturing components, also called tools, and machines needed for production of a product. These manufacturing components or tools include molds and dies, which are used to create the actual product or part of the actual product. Needless to say, the more tools a product requires, the more complex it is. Now please take a look at the table below.
To manufacture the Arist, we had to make a total of 119 new tools to create all the different unique components, from brew group to the outer casing. If you include the PCBs and the OEM parts, that’s a grand total of 148 individual components required to assemble the Arist. And that’s not counting the tubing and wires. For comparison, the average home use superautomatic espresso machines only require 60 - 70 components, which is half of what we need. The Arist truly is a groundbreaking machine that has reached a complexity that the other machines cannot match.
Tooling Takes Time
One of the most important things to know about tooling is that it takes time. Most manufacturers in China outsource tooling to a specialized factory that only makes tools for manufacturers. Since it is outsourced and there are only a limited number of tooling factories and exponentially more manufacturers creating different products, the queue is long and not even paying more can speed up the process by much. These factors play a huge part in why it takes about 30 - 60 days on average to create a set of tools (mold or die) for a new component. Please note that this estimate does not factor in tool adjustments and refinement, which may double the time to finish the tool.
For a medium sized tooling factory, employing about 15 - 20 people, the average tool production rate is only about 20 - 30 tools per month. If all of Arist’s tools were made by one dedicated factory, it would take a minimum of 90 days to complete. And that is under the most ideal conditions. Worst case scenario, it could take over 360 days to complete all the tooling. The tooling process for Arist falls somewhere in between both extremes. The reasons why Arist’s tooling process is taking longer than expected are:
1) It’s gone through a few redesigns which required new tooling
2) We’ve had to refine and retool, for some components, due to poor quality
3) The overwhelming number of tools needed - 119 in total
We hope this update can show you a clearer picture of the difficulties we’ve had to overcome and the enormity of the Arist project. The closer we get to the finish line, the more we appreciate all the support you’ve given us, so THANK YOU for being here for us.
Until next time...
Vincent and the Arist Team