Saturday, February 10, 2007

More on Microphone Production

Someone sent this shot in showing a vocalist using a Studio Vocalist Ribbon mic. Chances are it was shot over at Studio Bopnique.

But this is about production and the "OOPS" below.

People who are involved in manufacturing know about materials management, just-in-time manufacturing techniques, and of course lead times, second-sourcing of materials suppliers, process controls, in-process inspections, sampling plans, final inspections, process validation, finished goods inventory, back orders, and dealer stock.

People not involved in manufacturing, but involved in sales, already know about back orders.

We have never been in a "deep" back order situation where we were unable to ship product for weeks, but we have had "shallow" back orders of a day or two here and there as we continue to grow the product line and also the manufacturing capability. Well, last week we sold out of some products - I mean down to zero stock - and that startled us a bit. We had been doing so well to keep above zero while maintaining a steady production pace.

So what happened? Two situations co-conspired to catch us off-guard: The first was the unexpected popularity of The Recordist ribbon microphone, which as you probably already know, is sold in pairs. We incorrectly thought it was a niche product. But the new class of field recorders work so well with this mic pair, without a need for a preamp or battery-draining phantom power, that they took off stronger than expected. No complaints about that! But it used up a lot more parts than expected. The other conspiracy surrounded the availability of those nice storage boxes that we supply with Proscenium, Soundstage Image, SPLx, el Diablo prototypes, and Studio Vocalist mics. Our manufacturer in Dayton Ohio just could not make enough wood boxes to our quality standards, so we switched to an even better, more rugged (and stylish) vertical box from a local New England box manufacturer. This new storage container has dovetailed corners, so we think it won't split in the dry desert heat. A box like this has an intended service life of 100 years, which we hope is enough.

Neither of these are serious or long term problems, and of course complaining about back orders is like bragging about tax bills, our staff size has increased, and our build plan adjusted up. In a week or so it will have passed. But for now, it looks like nobody goes home early!

No comments: