To all our wonderful supporters of Qi Aerista!
For the past 3 weeks we have undertaken the following activities:
- Worked with our main manufacturing partner on tooling design, sample production, safety certification and mass production plans
- Further testing of our newest prototype
- PCBA, firmware, app and backend development work along with our partners
- Contact tea suppliers on cooperation
- Confirming our production and delivery schedule with our main manufacturing partner and other partners
Mass Production Stage Progress
We continued with a series of brewing tests with our new prototype using different teas, including making our signature HK-style milk tea, to further verify the brewing performance of our new design. The positive results show all our new design changes work as we initially expected and we can freeze the design as is.
Along with the design freeze, we are now preparing the necessary patent application documents for our new design. Once submitted, we can officially disclose our design in its entirety with full IP protection.
As we enter mass production phase, we have been engaged in frequent daily communications with our various partners via telcos, instant messaging, emails to steer our project forward. We have also made quite a bit of on-site partner visits and we expect such frequency to increase as we go.
Our main manufacturing partner is close to completing the product structure refinements for making all the parts 100% fit for manufacturing. Here it shows one of many detailed 2D drawings for all the parts in our product. Next comes tooling fabrication, sample production, safety certification, pilot production, mass production and shipment. Our latest production schedule will be listed later in this update.
Our PCBA manufacturer has just completed the production-version PCBA sample that matches our new base. Testing will be carried out to verify the many basic operational and Wi-Fi connectivity functions. The latter part is closely related to app development work, and we are facilitating the collaboration between both teams to ensure our new app will work seamlessly with our electronics and firmware.
Our app development partner is also finishing up the UI/UE design and is continuing with the rest of the app and backend work. Our new app not only enables you to control Qi Aerista and customize the brewing settings, it also features a tea database that let you learn more about tea and help with your tea selection and purchases through an interactive method we have devised. More details will be shared upon app beta release.
Developing the app and backend itself is like starting another brand new design project using a new set of paradigm that is quite different from the brewer part of our project. We are closely working with our app development partners on the many details to make sure the app deliverables work well with our brewer hardware.
Updated Production & Delivery Schedule
After rounds of discussions with our various partners, here is our updated list of major milestones for our production and delivery schedule:
PCBA & App
- First delivery of PCBA+firmware fully functional sample - week of Sept 25
- Chinese National Day Holiday - week of Oct 1 (all work ceases)
- App alpha release - week of Oct 10
- Completion of PCBA+firmware - week of Oct 30
- App beta release - week of Nov 6
- Production-ready design revisions complete - week of Sept 18
- Tooling completion - week of Nov 20
- First brewer production samples ready - week of Dec 4
- Completion of internal lifetime tests - week of Jan 8
- Completion of safety certification - week of Jan 15
- Chinese New Year - month of Feb (all work ceases)
- Pilot mass production run complete - week of Mar 7
- Mass production complete - week of Mar 26
- Inspection & shipment - week of Apr 1
From the schedule, our app would be ready for beta testing in early Nov for our backer community to download and test. Originally we plan to have the the app ready by late Oct. But due to the upcoming Chinese national holiday and Mid-Autumn festival that span 8 days, we have to push it back to early Nov.
On the other hand, we regret that for most of our backers, the delivery date for our brewer hardware will be delayed till early April due to the following reasons:
1. The scouting, due diligence and contract negotiation process to confirm our manufacturing partners was time-consuming, which delayed our entry into mass production phase by 1 month.
2. We have underestimated the time and scale of activities our main manufacturer would need to complete the mass production phase and produce a quality product in the end.
a. It took their team an extra 3 weeks to revise the new prototype design to make it 100% fit for manufacturing.
b. The tooling process takes an extra 4 weeks to complete due to the large number of parts involved in our product.
c. It takes a lengthy 5-6 weeks to go through all the safety certification processes with the external testing labs.
d. It takes multiple rounds of sample production runs, usually 3 with each spanning 2 weeks, to make sure our products are being manufactured efficiently and correctly off the assembly lines.
e. After each sample production run, we would take 2 extra weeks to perform lifetime testing on the off-tool production samples to make sure everything works right.
f. It takes 4-6 weeks to order and receive all the materials needed to manufacture the thousands of brewer units during the actual mass production run.
g. Both Chinese National Day Holiday and Chinese New Year would lead to a total of a month's time of work stoppage.
We sincerely apologize for this second delay in delivering the brewer hardware. If we experience any more delays in shipping out our brewer by our target date in early April, we are willing to offer a full refund afterwards.
In between, we may be able to ship out a small number of units produced through our sample and pilot production runs. However, most of such units will be reserved for internal lifetime testing and safety certification.
We are now closely working with our main manufacturer to make sure that things move according to plan and look for ways that can save us a bit of time. On the other hand, we will follow all the necessary steps and not cut corners on important areas such as lifetime testing and safety certification.
Fresh Chinese Tea from Plantation to Your Doorstop by Qi Aerista
We understand that some of you are hoping to receive Qi Aerista in time for the holiday season. While we still need a bit more time for the brewer hardware to be ready, we would like to offer every backer an exclusive discount on our new tea delivery service where you will receive fresh loose leaf tea sourced directly from tea farms in China and shipped directly to your doorstep.
Our growing list of independent tea producers and partners will provide a wide variety of tea types, from green, yellow, white, oolong, black, dark, pu'er, floral and more. The teas will be personally sampled by our in-house tea taster Karen and the rest of the Qi Aerista team to meet our taste and quality standards.
Our new tea delivery service will be rolled out in early November along with the beta release of our app. Details on the delivery service, exclusive backer discount and ordering process will be available in our next project update.
Together we are making Qi Aerista a reality!
Rick @ Qi Aerista