Pillow Talk Heads into Pre-Production!

Hello from China! 

This week was what we call a "pre-production" run. This is a small manufacturing run of around 100 units, which is done as a trial run to test the entire process, end-to-end. It's basically a way to check everything - from the individual pieces, through to the process we use to put the product together.


On the ground in China

One of the most interesting things about finally being in China is meeting all of the people who work on Pillow Talk every day. These are people we have spent months (nearly two years, in fact) talking to via email, video call etc, who are responsible for the day-to-day process of manufacturing Pillow Talk. 

It's also been fascinating to really understand the whole process of producing Pillow Talk. Obviously we had a fairly reasonable understanding of what was involved, but it's very different to see it all happening in real life!
 

Visiting the factories

Pre-production involves making a lot of little decisions. And when we say a lot, by that I mean the decision making is constant and unrelenting. A lot of time this week has been spent assessing the items that have been made so far, and either approving them or requesting changes. 

Packaging
The first place we visited was the packaging factory. We were shown round and they explained how they make Pillow Talk's boxes! 

Box assembly line

Box assembly line

Our week of decision making began here, when they handed us three giant booklets of paper samples and said "please choose which paper you want your instruction leaflet printed on". Oh, okay then...!

White paper starts to look the same after a while

White paper starts to look the same after a while

IMG_2840.JPG

So all in all, we think our packaging is looking pretty good. 

Product
Next up, we visited the plastics factory, where they use injection moulding to produce the plastic elements of Pillow Talk.

Here is Joanna with our "tooling", which is effectively the big lumps of steel they use as moulds for our plastic. It probably looks quite underwhelming, but what you see in this photo is where about 50% of the money we received from our Kickstarter campaign went...! 

These lumps of metal are probably the most expensive thing we own

These lumps of metal are probably the most expensive thing we own

The tooling also took a staggering six weeks to make. We never understood why (and it felt like an eternity when we were waiting), but in the factory we learned how they mill away the metal in a way that only removes 1mm of the surface every hour. 

A closer look at the tool

A closer look at the tool

The Mixing Man

It's an interesting process - the colour of the plastic is produced by assembling the correct ratio of small coloured pellets. You can see here in the photo, he has a little scale on which he weighs out the ratio of each colour. With every new test shot in the mould, they note down the combination and ratios of colours used to make the final plastic mix. 

We took each sample out into the daylight, reporting back if it needed to be "more blue", "less brown", etc. Eventually we ended up with a shortlist of options.

 

50 shades of grey

50 shades of grey

The good news is that we finally mixed the correct colour, and the new batch of plastics were produced the next day. 

What's next?

As I write this, our assembly factory is doing the final assembly on our first 100 units. At the end of this week we have a big review meeting with the entire manufacturing team to discuss all elements of the process to confirm any final changes. We will discuss everything any final tweaks to the product, as well as any production issues that cropped up in the trial runs. 

Final assembly takes place tomorrow, so more news and photos to follow soon!

With love,
Joanna and the Little Riot Team
xxx

June Update from Little Riot HQ

June Manufacturing Update

Hi everyone,

Just a short update this time around, but wanted to keep you all in the loop.

Manufacturing

We were expecting to receive our final samples at the end of May but they were delayed by 10 days due to some unforeseen blips. However, these have now been finished and are winging their way to us from China! 

Excitingly, we are expecting these to be the final samples. We've spent months studying stitching, creasing folds in cardboard, flexing cables and polling our friends and family on the 'matt or glossy? packaging debate.

 

What happens next?

When we approve these samples (hopefully as soon as we receive them!) we tell the factory to go ahead and make the 'tooling'. The tooling consists of all the things the factory needs to manufacturing the product: the moulds for the plastic casing, the cutting shape for the fabric, jigs for testing the PCBs etc. 

 

We're expecting to place the tooling order within the next week or two. Once we do this, the manufacturing process will be officially underway and we will be within weeks of heading to China!

When the tooling is complete (circa 8 weeks) we make a small batch of products - around 100 units. These units are mostly sent off to be used and abused in the safety testing and certification procedures, but we will likely use some of them for some final user testing. More to follow on this in another update - we will likely need some volunteers! 

We expect to begin the mass production run about 4 weeks after the tooling is complete.

We're almost there!

With love,
Joanna and The Little Riot Team
xxx 

LDR Tips-Talking about long distance struggles

Be sure to talk about the issues and niggles which comes up, chances are you are experiencing the same challenges from afar. Telepathic?! Be honest about how you feel things are going so you can address things which come up together :-)

Switchboard

We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!

Fall asleep next to each other

What our customers say..


We know that communication is important in relationships, especially when you are separated from each other for long periods of time. We are due to ship Pillow Talk to 42 countries so far and our customers really know how to get in touch with the right messages  and encouragement!

Pillow Talk

As we all know, are long-distances very hard for couples to keep the physical contact in balance if you don't meet your partner for many weeks. So I am looking and so much-needed a gadget which helps my boyfriend and me to “fall asleep next to each other” even with the big distance.

(Teuta)

Behind the scenes at Little Riot HQ

We work with a team in China who oversee Pillow Talk production. This has been a long process of trial and error and we have gone through a few iterations till we reached the final versions. We just received final samples with only a couple of details needing changed so we will be hitting go on mass production soon! (eek!)

Pillow Talk samples for testing!   

Pillow Talk samples for testing! 

 

After some long years of building, sampling and testing prototypes we are pleased to share that the product it a joy to use. The speaker is phenomenal - far better than anything we built ourselves during the prototype stage. We can't wait until you can use it to feel connected to your loved ones!

Pillow Talk set

Pillow Talk set

What's next?

We're expecting to receive a final, finished, polished set of samples within the next 3-4 weeks. Once this is signed off, we can head into the production set up. Words cannot tell you how excited we are about this! 

LDR Tips- Feeling relationship security

Foster a sense of stability in your relationship by discussing and planning its future. Plan as a team working through a geographical separation with the same goals to feel more grounded and certain about your relationship.

 

(We found these cute tshirts on Etsy- https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/252030058/what-is-your-number-couple-t-shirts ) We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!

(We found these cute tshirts on Etsy- https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/252030058/what-is-your-number-couple-t-shirts )

We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!

LDR Tips-Being practical about visiting and travelling

Deciding whether to meet up halfway, hosting a visit or deciding to explore somewhere new together can become stressful and travelling all the time can get tiring. Create a schedule together so you can see what works best for both of you.

We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!

We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!

LDR tips- Let them know you’re thinking of them

Whether you are in different countries or different colleges it is always nice to get in touch to say you care. Think of things you can send in the post, print out photos from fun times together!

We have customers and friends with long distance relationships all over the world, we are always excited to see what country combinations arrive into our inboxes! Time differences, expensive travel fares, busy schedules, friends and family, jobs, school, holidays, the list goes on, life is full on. Sometimes we just miss our other half. We talk to lots of couples, and families in long distance and everyone has their own tactics and strategies. We share tips and suggestions here. We would love to hear more the ways you tackle long distance relationships!