Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's that time of year.

Hi everyone! This spring we have been busy receiving and inspecting a ton of ITW kites. This has kept me extremely busy as my primary responsibility here is quality control. Even so, I thought I would take a moment to blog about this to let you know how important quality is to Into The Wind.

The process of making kites begins with George and Mary Ann working hard with designers such as Christoph Fokken, George Peters and Dan Leigh. Prototypes are made, adjustments are requested and the kites are approved for production. We know that we are making excellent kites, but we still take the time to guarantee this even after they are shipped to us.

Here is an example of our process:

  • Depending on the quantity of a specific kite received, I will randomly pick 12% or more of them to inspect. We never inspect less than 12% of a shipment and frequently, we inspect 1/4 or more of the kites we receive.
  • We have created checklists tailored to each kite design in order to make the review process efficient. I assemble a kite, compare it with the checklist and make sure my random samples are correct. Some of the things we look for are:
      • Proper spreader length
      • The sail and case are perfect with no fabric flaws
      • Stitching is secure and even
      • The pattern/design is correct
      • Bridle measurements are as specified
      • Secure and proper detailing and fittings
  • Each kite design has different specifications. Currently, there are 53 different worksheets that list each kite's review points. (We make more than 53 kites but the same worksheet can be used for different diamonds or deltas.)
  • Each style of kite has different needs, a delta's spreader should not be too tight, but a box kite's spreaders should be just tight enough. These are small, but very important details I look for when inspecting our shipments from China.
  • If the kite is a new design or if we have changed something since the last production run, one of the kites is given to George who personally test flies it. With George's stamp of approval, we know it is a good kite and we can ship it out to our customers. Any kite that has been test flown cannot be sold as new. It then goes into our "Bargain Bin", give us a call and we will let you know what we have in there!

I admit I am biased, but I think quality control is the most important step in our kite making process. It gives us an opportunity to make improvements for future production runs while also guaranteeing that the kites are ready to fly now.

That's about it for me. I have got to get back to some Sweet 16s that aren't going to Q/C themselves! Oh, and that kite that is folded just perfectly in its case... yeah, I looked at that one.

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