Maker Tip: Labels on all your Custom Pieces

I’m a big fan of Kaizen, the process of continual refinement. Opportunity is everywhere if you’re looking for it. Sometimes it’s obvious like “hey man, I think you should put a link to X on page Y of your tutorial!” …Ok! Sometimes it’s more subtle, like when a customer on the phone tries to describe a part for which they have no name.

On the good suggestion of Sarah Petkus​ of RobotArmy I’ve started putting part numbers right on all my laser cut pieces. Now I realize it was a hole in my inventory control system. I had a separate inventory number for every item in the store, but the laser cut parts were clumped together as “laser cut parts for kit X”. Now that I have separate part numbers I can…

  • file that one extra piece sometimes left over after a production run and give it a kanban card;
  • refer to them by name in the assembly documents and tutorials;
  • sell them individually as replacements; and
  • discuss them in the forums with people.

    All of which leads to better quality control, smaller inventory, and happier making.

    You’ll see part numbers start appearing on all our laser cut parts, starting with the Makelangelo. I’m not sure how we’ll fit them on the smallest 3D printed bits in the Arm3, but we’ll figure something out.

    I just want to say again how much I love all your great feedback. The forums, the tweets, the emails, the live chat, and even saying ‘Hi!’ at Maker Fairs… Every bit of feedback has given me something I can work with.

    If you like Kaizen, you may also enjoy The Red Queen Hypothesis: In a world where everything is constantly changing, you have to change at least as fast just to keep up.

    If you make more than ten of anything, you should probably keep Kanban in mind: