We’re excited to provide an update on where we stand with production. I know everyone has been eager for this information. In advance of announcing any delivery dates, we wanted to ensure we had all of the pieces in place on our end. Thank you for your patience.
First, as we recently shared, we built thirty units several weeks ago. Of these thirty units, we sent three to labs to secure the necessary certifications from Apple and CE (we’ve already attained our FCC certification). Our team has also been intensely testing seven of these units over the past two weeks, working to ensure the system is free of any issues. We sent the remaining twenty units from this initial batch to our ambassadors and beta testers, from whom you’ll soon hear an update.
Although shipping twenty units across the world (mainly to the United States, Canada, and Europe) sounds quite simple, it’s not. Several drones were returned to us by the shipping company we employed, as they ultimately required additional information and documentation to enter the countries to which they were sent. The shipping process is further complicated by the drone’s lithium-ion battery, which is heavily regulated when it comes to air transportation. But rest assured—we have our shipping efforts dialed for North America and Europe. If you live in these continents, we can ship your unit as soon it comes off the assembly line.
Because drones are considered a dual use product, they also require commercial export certification, which we have for North America and Europe. We are currently working with partners in other continents to attain this certification. Consequently, we will prioritize shipping units to North America and Europe, providing updates for other countries as soon as they become available. Please know that this is an ongoing process that we have already started. For many countries, we have completed all of the necessary steps on our end and are simply awaiting the necessary certifications and approvals.
We are now manufacturing 100 units for our current milestone, the Production Validation Test (for more information on the PVT, check out our previous update). This is the final step in validating and preparing for mass production. It ensures that our manufacturing process is optimized and yields exceptional quality.
To bring you up to speed, here’s a rough overview of the integration steps that make up HEXO+:
Similarly, we encountered an issue with the plastic we had originally selected. Mechanical engineers will tell you that when it comes to plastic, you have more than 100 options available, each with its own mechanical properties, weight, and capabilities. During the spring and summer, we worked to identify the plastic that met our specifications, one that was light and offered exceptional flights with no vibrations.
In September, however, testing with our certification labs revealed that the plastic we had originally selected didn’t meet the standards established by the CE marking for fire resistance. Consequently, we promptly took action with our partners to find new material, order it, push for better delivery dates, prepare the material, and coordinate shipping to where we inject plastic. This process is now over, as we have found and begun using the plastic that meets our desired specifications.
Essentially, we are receiving all of the mechanical parts between now and November 4th for the PVT units. Then, we will begin the manufacturing process:
All in all, this means that we will be ready to ship our 100 PVT units by November 11th. Concurrently, we are preparing all of our parts for mass production. This week, we started manufacturing our electronic boards, and we are aligning our schedule to ensure we have our mechanical parts to our CMS (Contract Manufacturer Service) partner by November 10th.
After we complete our PVT, we move to mass production, ramping up the number of units we manufacture each week. At this time, our manufacturing ramp up and forecast will allow us to produce all units for our backers by the end of November 2015.
On the delivery side, we’re exploring all of the potential options for helping address VAT and import taxes. Needless to say, things are a little complex—our Kickstarter project is based in the United States, our company and factory are based in France, and our invoicing comes compliments of our U.S. subsidiary. It’s a challenge to secure all of the necessary information from customs, but we’re getting there.
As you can see, a week with the HEXO+ team is intense. We are all fully committed to shipping you a unit as soon as possible. And this is just a glimpse at what’s on our plate. We have also dealt with a range of additional items over the past week to ensure HEXO+ is the best product possible. A few of these issues include:
Thank you for your continued support as we gear up to ship your unit. We’re committed to making the product you deserve—and we’re grateful for your patience as we enter the homestretch. We are honored to share this journey with you and can’t wait to take HEXO+ to the sky.
We look forward to being in touch.