This is a quick turn for the next edition of SoundBytes to gear everyone up for the National Narrow Gauge Convention this week in Hickory, NC. In this edition, we will meet the newest face at SoundTraxx, Jaime Ferry. We will also have the last installment from Jeff at Blackstone Models about model selection and production. Our Dealer Spotlight will fall on Spring Creek Model Trains in Deshler, Nebraska.
Intro to Jaime FerryJaime joined our team in July as an administrative assistant. She grew up in Massachusetts and relocated to Durango to work with SoundTraxx.
Since moving to Durango, Jaime and her fiancé have started the preparations for building their own layout. They plan to model their home, the Boston Area, and may throw in a tourist narrow gauge railroad so they can model the Blackstone Models. Outside of work and planning their layout, Jaime is an avid horseback rider and owns a Quarter Horse named Awesome.
Jaime has worked for the Ritz Carlton as a concierge and several other customer service oriented companies. If there is anything she can help you with, “It would be her pleasure.”
Product Development Primer
By Jeff JohnsonIn our second installment of the Blackstone Models development process, we discussed the research phase up to the 3D model preparation of the prototype.
MAKING THE MODEL IN CADNow the drawings are off to our manufacturer! Depending on the project and development schedule, we may see a first offering of 3D model designs within 6 to 8 weeks for us to review and begin the model design and review phase.
· Ensuring the accuracy of the prototype specific detailing.
· Accepting certain limitations that the molding and assembly process may require.
· Reviewing the proposed assembly process/hardware and identifying any constraints that may arise in the assembly phase.
· Assuring that the proposed parts and assembly are compatible with previous designs to ensure product consistency.
· Reviewing the cost effectiveness of the assembly process to avoid needless “design creep” that may challenge our ability to keep the model affordably priced for the future.
· Signing off on the various Bill of Materials for each version to ensure the detailing differences are understood.
Locomotive creation adds considerable time to the above process as we determine the sound system constraints and motor/gearing assembly, as well as the electrical pick up design. Before we can sign off for the next step, the SoundTraxx engineering team is hard at work determining the Tsunami decoder layout and wiring that the locomotive will utilize. As an example, the C-19 required a reduction in physical wires running between the loco and tender as well as the sound system PCB (Printed Circuit Board) size when compared to our K-27 design.
TIME TO CUT THE MOLDS
After many weeks of detailed study and revisions, we make that decision to head to the tooling department. The 3D model goes through a final sign off from the tooling department to determine the feasibility of each part and any limitations that may need final study, than it’s off to cut hard tooling.
For locomotives, it may easily take three or more months before we see the first test shots and/or running samples. This break in the model design phase means it is time to gather final information and create the decoration liveries, box artwork, insert documentation, and labeling. During this time we will also receive box and protective blister proposals from the manufacturer for approval.
All the while, the engineering team in Durango has created prototype sound systems for the locomotives. These decoder samples will need to be in the hands of the manufacturer when the first loco parts are coming out of the molds.
ENGINEERING AND DECORATION SAMPLES
OFF TO THE PRODUCTION FLOORThe samples have been approved and our final purchase order was prepared weeks in advance of production so our manufacturer has had time to order consigned parts from their vendors. For locomotive production, the sound systems are completed and sent off so their arrival will coincide with the first models headed for assembly. Scheduled months prior, our manufacturer goes to work shooting the zinc and plastic molds and sending them off to the assembly floor. Within a few weeks, we will receive at least two samples of each production piece/version to check for the success of the quality control process. If we identify any issue, this is our last chance to make adjustments prior to shipment. Our manufacturer is eager to please and they studiously review any feedback and make any revisions to assembly if the need arises.
OFF TO DURANGOThe excitement has been building for us, and finally we receive the shipping documents that verify our latest release is on the way. We can now start to contact dealers and confirm the ship dates. It will be 3 to 5 weeks before the cartons arrive at our door. Once received, the models are subjected to final testing and inspection before we send them your way.
Thanks for following this development primer. We hope that you have gleaned a little understanding into the process, one that we enjoy each step of the way!
Dealer Spotlight: Spring Creek Model Trains
David Zucker along with his wife Debby, started their hobby store business in 2000. It has been a lifelong dream to own a model railroad hobby store.