Packing kits - part 2

October 12, 2012 5:30:46 PM CDT

Short one today..

I've caught myself padding posts for length lately out of a misplaced notion that "good enough" requires "long enough." That's a common writer's trap, so it's a habit I need to break.

Conveniently, this occurred to me while I was trying to wax eloquent about a simple and obvious step of kit packing.


Skipping lightly over the middle bits:

There are only about two real ideas here:

  • I use bag labels for my printed matter rather than dropping a printed sheet into the bag.
  • I use a grid to align the labels as I put them on the bags.

Front of kit bag, main kit label:

kit label

Back of kit bag, Adafruit barcode:


Front of parts bag, parts list:

parts label

Back of parts bag, QA tag:

QA tag

The QA tag is the hook that takes me to a subject that actually warrants a few words.

Quality Assurance:

I can't put enough emphasis on how easy it is to screw up a shipment. I once sent out a shipment of kits without ethernet jacks (which are kind of the main piece). Fortunately for me, Limor at Adafruit is amazingly patient and easy to work with, so I was able to fix the mistake.

Still, you should never allow mistakes like that to get out your door. I learned from my mistakes by making them, and am posting this in the hope that someone else can learn by reading about them.

As with many such things, the solution was mostly a matter of applying things I already knew once I finally believed they applied to me. In this case, it was a simple matter of adding documentation to my process.

Every kit I ship now has one of these (WARNING: the link goes to a 3.8 megabyte file):

QA photo

Parts go out of that counting table directly into the bag. If I even think there's a problem, I dump the bag out and count/photograph the parts again. The full-size photo gives me a view of the parts that's roughly twice actual size so I can confirm details like bent pins if I need to.

The parts are arranged in a standard layout that makes checking the groups and item counts trivial. It's another "out of the head and into the world" trick. I've looked at so many of those photos by now that I can tell at a glance if any parts are missing, which was exactly the point of the exercise.

As for the counting table itself, that will be the subject of my next post.

Random brain cookies:

Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.