June & July: Production ramp-up, getting the last remaining parts for the big batch

June & July: Production ramp-up, getting the last remaining parts for the big batch - KiteX

Hi backers & friends 

A long waited update on what's going on with your turbines! 
It's now been twice with a bi-monthly update, mainly due to Chris having had 3 weeks of vacation, but we're back to speed, and we expect a monthly update again going forwards.

TL;DR of the update:
  • Turbine production progress: Updates were delayed due to vacation, but now back on track for monthly updates. Turbines tested at campsite, attracting attention.
  • New employees hired (Jakob & Gintaras) to scale production. Test site verification ongoing.
  • Minor changes to firmware, electronics, and mechanics. Goal is 10 turbines without failures before shipping without outdoor pre-tests.
  • Working on tools for faster production. Currently, making 2-3 turbines/week, aiming for 5/week, then scaling to 3/day.
  • Materials for 100–200 turbines purchased. Waiting on bags before larger shipments.
  • Electromagnetic certification almost complete. Electronics altered for noise reduction. CE markings for safety in 95% done.
  • Challenges: Belt wear and gear system tolerances. Long-duration turbines in field for testing.
  • Featured in German wind power magazine.

A little bit of vacation

Let's start up on a light note. We're still very busy, but we've also taken some vacation - which was much needed. Let's start there, with some pictures: 
Here's Wind Catcher in use at a campsite in Denmark. What do you prefer, orange or black adjustment straps? 
The surf camp was a good place to try out Wind Catcher for a few days in a row. There were large trees around, which made for quite gusty winds, so the generation was not that much, even though it was windy. 
What is needed is a little bit more open space around, but it attracted a lot of attention. It's definitely an eye-catching piece of equipment. 
It's still useful for us to get feedback from people, and see if we can make things even easier for people in assembly, understandment etc. 

New employees, and target production volume 

We've slowly been expanding the team. We're still in the process of hiring even more people. 

But here's the two newest additions to the team, Jakob & Gintaras. They'll help us scale the production effort, so we can start shipping turbines. 

We're still setting turbines up at the test site in Risø to verify their function. 

We've changed a few minor things regarding firmware, electronics hardware and mechanical. (Gear system tolerances). The next goal is to get 10 turbines without any failures, and then we will confident enough to start shipping directly without outdoor testing / verification of each turbine. Hours hours hours - is still a thing to eliminate potential failures, frustrations and costly re-shipments of units. 

At the moment we're splitting the time between making wind turbines, and making jigs/tools/improvements that will help us make turbines even faster. For August, we're currently hitting 2–3 turbines per week, but if everything goes smoothly, we should quite quickly get to 5/week. After this, it's a matter of scaling to 3 per day, which the workshop currently is sized / set up to handle. 

Production, items & status

Last update, we left with the news of closing the investment round. We've already purchased and received 98% of all the materials we need before shipping units. 

Buying large quantities is necessary for a company to scale business, we're still very much on the low end, but we've purchased enough parts and materials for between 100 - 200 turbines (depending on which component).

Here's a short glimpse of some of the things that's been going on - small things, but many of them.

From top right: Pallets of foam, cardboard boxes and profiles are coming in to the warehouse/workshop. Full drawers with subassemblies. Oliver is testing the fit of the new packaging solution. Last, the new bag prototype. 

We're now really only waiting for the bags before we'll start shipping out in larger number. Our supplier has said the bags should be ready mid-August, but we've already postponed this before. We're staying in close contact with the bags supplier, and we will order some of the first units with air-freight so we have them more quickly. 

The production is ongoing. We're still a little bit bottle necked by some of the electromagnetic compliance tests that are required, meaning we need to order larger quantities of electronics, but we just the need testing to be completed, so the design can be locked in. 

Electromagnetic certification 

This should be done this week. Fingers crossed. We've been in the test-chamber 4 times now. We're only missing a few tests more, and then everything should be set. This is quite a task, and running power electronics is something a little different than the usual components they see in the testing facilities. 

We also need to run a large compressor for an air engine (that can drive our generator). 

What you've not heard or seen is that the electronics testing has facilitated a few alterations on the electronics. More filters, a few ferrite cores, and also electromagnetic noise dampening

More certification efforts - CE markings 

We're in full swing of getting the required certifications needed. This is related to machine safety. We've been in contact with some very experienced consultants within this field, and through discussions we've implemented a few safety parameters; mainly: 

  • Added a small buzzer in the turbine, to give a sound when it starts up (should there be people around it)
  • Added a signpost with a pictogram indicating there's a moving rotor
  • Various warnings labels + update of manuals, and safety / service instructions 

You can see the service guide here

We've also made a few small things a little bit better. Here's a pic of some of the things: 

New spliced lines (still not completely rolled into production setup), even better color coding. 

We've made the print farm better with relation to part quality. It has also taken some time. 

Still ongoing troubles:

1. Belt wear, after 6 months

Our long-duration turbines are still in the field. So we can see what breaks/wear when. It's now been twice we've had to replace an alupulley. We've found that this part needs a replacement every 4000 Hours or so. (half year of operation). At this point in time, it's done more than 300 million revolutions. 

In this picture, you can see an additional consequence of not replacing it fast enough.  It destroyed the belt. No matter what, we'd also recommend replacing the high speed belt every 6 months. Possibly it can live for 12 months. 

2. Squeaky noises / bad tolerances from gear system 

We're currently running a lot of indoor tests of the gear system using different tolerance settings, and we're also planning investigating different materials. In a previous batch of test turbines we had some squeaky noises from the gear, that is not troubling, but are a little bit annoying. 

Let's end this post on a higher note. We're featured in the German magazine KleinWindKraft.de, which is an online place for discussing small wind power. The things in there are very honest and good. Overall it was positive about the technology, but it is, as you know, early days. 

Here's a link: https://www.klein-windkraftanlagen.com/allgemein/mikrowindanlage-in-20-min-aufgebaut-dieses-startup-sollte-man-kennen/

Thank you for reading and hanging in there - we'll continue to push on as hard and fast as we can! 

Good winds

The KiteX Team



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1 comment

  • Michael Bowman on

    I am glad to hear that progress is moving forward, And I look forward to trying it out here in Nevada USA, Where the winds can be variable from light breeze do strong winds up to 40 to 50 miles an hour depending on the weather system, I look forward to giving it a really good Testing in all types of weather conditions, Between this and solar panels it should be a lot of fun To do some Beta testing and perhaps I could find some way to improve things. Remember quality is what’s most important. And I have great confidence in your team Achieving your goals you’ve done a lot more with wind turbines than I have done with mine experiments, Good luck To you all

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