Composite Mobile Mini Factory - KITSTER

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by anvegger, Dec 3, 2016.

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  1. Dec 3, 2016 #1

    anvegger

    anvegger

    anvegger

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    I am working on one very challenging idea and would like your input. This idea is based on the fact that composite construction could be presented as a mobile factory. Let's assume that there is an aircraft (or a boat, a car, or even an RV - anything) is designed and ready to be sold as a KIT. The KIT manufacturer usually hosts the shop to share the construction of that vehicle at the location Such as Sebastian FL (Velocity) or Redmond OR (Lancair) with plenty of Builder Assistance labor and well equipped hangar. The KIT's owner is invited to participate in his/ her frame construction (assembly) and in less than a year the plane is ready to fly. The problem for me is that I don't have any time to spend at the out of home location . Instead of bringing buyers to KIT's manufacturer I am thinking of shipping the KIT to the buyer in form of a Clean Lab. That would be a set of containers fully equipped with the climate controlled mini lab - ready to produce and assemble any of Composite Frame construction. The lab would be remotely video monitored with the Support Center that is located wt the KIT's design office and any kind of skills would be shared directly at the time when needed conveniently used an independent resources such as generator, vacuum pump ,HVAC system fire protection etc.

    That may start from a 3D printer delivered inside of the First Container and ready to build any prototype the small scale model as an entry-level learning curve break thru production. Then based on the level of interest the KIT producer may ship the first Container (clean lab) KITSTER-I with mold(s) and Carbon Fiber (as an example) collection (raw materials + resin) to start the production of an empinnage , then the second Container (clean lab) KITSTER-2 would be with some pre-manufactured parts + molds to make an assembly fuselage etc. The combination of such a process could vary based on the process and requirements. The idea is to rent out the equipment with the tooling directly to the homebuilder's shop, that would be located at the homebuilder's most convenient location instead of in one hangar in 2000 miles from his home.

    My question to the audience would be - what the set of clean lab equipment would be recommended to set up as a UNIT : power supply + vacuum pump + mixer (for resin) , may be CNC , HVAC block to produce the climate controlled atmosphere for that shop..
     
  2. Dec 3, 2016 #2

    anvegger

    anvegger

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    The delivery of such KITSTER complex could be similar to PODS distribution. The special truck could pick up and drop off the Clean Lab per Homebuilder's request at any time



    These containers could be delivered one by one or a few at the same time - for larger assemblies
     
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  3. Dec 3, 2016 #3

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Wouldn't it be easier to build a RV instead?
     
  4. Dec 3, 2016 #4

    anvegger

    anvegger

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    The RV model is a small version of such a factory. Ideally the factory is a set of containers surrounding the Central Unit. The Container's approach is based on the fact that the container should be sitting somewhere at the Homebuilders land for at least a week, may be longer. I am thinking of an RV based as a demo shop. And the collection of Containers as a Mini Factory.

    A Central Unit may be equipped with all the rental's equipment that is needed and Replacable Containers would be hosting Molds , Materials and Resins - for a specific part production.
     
  5. Dec 3, 2016 #5

    anvegger

    anvegger

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    The Central Unit is a KIT's independent collection of major tools. And each KIT manufacturer could supply pre-manufactured parts as well as molds or anything related to the specific PRODUCT as an addition to the Central Unit. The idea is around the re-usability and remote support of such a factory from the KIT manufacturer. KIT producer could host no inventory but simply supply or distribute all the materials in form of a KITSTER directly to the local shops - homebuilders across the country . The KIT producer is becoming an orchestrator of a project instead of manufacturer of a KIT.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2016 #6

    TFF

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    I think shipping and builder procrastination are going to be the biggest problems. Convenience is great but it has to come cheap in this industry. And since the average builder has to take years to get a few tasks done, a procrastinator could stop the business in its tracks. Now a modular system of "two weeks to fly" might be better, where a team shows with one part of the puzzle and does a builder assist for that one part at the builders place. Schedule the part of the pie and that team shows. Have the trailer show with everything to finnish in lets say a week end or week time, depending on part .
     
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  7. Dec 3, 2016 #7

    Little Scrapper

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    I am not familiar with composites, probably because it seems like witchcraft to me. So bare with me and my lack of knowledge.

    Is the reason for the idea to make building an airplane easier or making composites easier?

    Only reason I ask this is because the customer comes first. In modern times are more potential builders interested in material selection or ease of assembly?

    For example, a Wittman Tailwind is a great cross country airplane and it's efficient. So is the RV series of airplanes. The RV's are much more popular vs the Tailwind. I suppose modern looks play a role but I think it's appealing to most buyers that they don't need to build it, they assemble it instead. Like a lego kit in a box with instructions. Like the lego box it doesn't need a pod outside, it can be assembled inside the house or garage etc.

    My wife would divorce me if I put pods outside. I am not a RV fan, I'm old school tube and fabric 100%. However, a whole bunch of friends are building RV's and Sonex right now. They all live in neighborhoods with restrictions that would never allow or want pods sitting in the yard.

    It just seems like the idea, although I like it, doesn't make sense unless the buyer really wants composite. I don't believe buyers who spend this kind of money are focused on composite but rather easy, simple, proven assembly methods that don't require laboratories and the end result is a very efficient flying airplane.

    In short, why go through all this effort when they could skip the pods and just rivet an RV together in the garage?
     
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  8. Dec 3, 2016 #8

    Little Scrapper

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    In short, composite airplanes seem like much more work than riveting a pre punched airplane together.
     
  9. Dec 3, 2016 #9

    anvegger

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    The major part of the KITSTER program is an on-line support and non-stop training from the Community. Same as Software Development goes on. The community is the major contributor of the distribution. This program in my honest opinion would be a KIT's producer effort. Look at the Raptor's Project team: just two guys making the step by step delivery of the entire evolution of prototyping and KIT's producing program. It does not matter they succeed or not - their program would be a good example of how to deliver any of the Composite collection to the public. The builder's procrastination part is becoming a history for the "off-line homebuilders". That generation (my big respect to them) did not get any luxury of global communication. The upcoming group is living on-line with mobile devise in their pocket. There is no an unanswered question exists for that generation of homebuilders.
     
  10. Dec 3, 2016 #10

    Little Scrapper

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    I'll give that link a read. Thanks.
     
  11. Dec 3, 2016 #11

    anvegger

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    The KITSTER is your garage and nothing else. Or - in better words : it is an extension to your Garage, Hangar , boat shop etc. It is a covered space under the sun that protects your investment and helps you to succeed with your dream project. That is it. You still use your garage if you want but in Composite World construction you no longer need 1500 ++ predrilled and shaped parts and superior sheet metal tooling to produce nice quality RV airframe. All you need - is a Climate Protected area with independent power source and ventilation. The rest is delivered by the KIT producer.
     
  12. Dec 3, 2016 #12

    anvegger

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    You may still use any of your home space for any of small parts production such as this



    But the large parts - fuselage wings empennage - all of those would be too hard to keep at the Garage or at Home, and would be waisting building under the open air without any Clean Lab Luxury.
     
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  13. Dec 3, 2016 #13

    anvegger

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    KITSTER package not necessarily would be delivered inside of a framed container. Container could be your space (Composite Construction) shipped to you as well as all the Molds, Raw Materials, resins etc distributed per your request - the mobility of such configuration is KIT's producer's imagination driven


    View attachment 56632
     
  14. Dec 3, 2016 #14

    Riggerrob

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    Are you willing to rent out a certified welder or experienced composites fabricator?

    What slows me down is reading instructions and figuring which part goes where. So end out manuals or videos a few weeks in advance, but having an experienced fabricator on-site would eliminate dozens of delays.
    That way the customer can devote most of his time to building, increasing his 51 percent time.
    Also having a fabricator onsite for only a weekend - at most a week - focuses a customer on completing one component per visit. IOW the customer needs to "clear his plate" and focus only on the build project for a week.

    Another advantage to containerized workshops is limiting noise, fumes, etc. in quiet residential neighbourhoods.
    While you are insulating for noise, also insulate for temperature control and build in coolers and heaters to adjust for all 50 states.
     
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  15. Dec 3, 2016 #15

    anvegger

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    Many thanks Riggerrob for your valuable input. It makes perfect sense to set up sort of distribution center that would be providing a qualified on site support from the KIT producer's recommendations much similar to the Builder's Assistance Program - but in a way that you have described. It would come eventually with the local EAA chapter's knowledge build process. For example my local Chapter 106 President Mr. Izzy Briggs is a superior Composite material second generation profi who is currently providing safety composite construction classes to our local members. I am sure in every Metro area people could find some support in form of paid or volunteer (shared) labor. The KIT producer may be also working toward providing inspection and on-site review when needed. That is only the matter of time.

    Noise reduction and environmental protection is the base requirements for the complex - that is for sure. Security, fire protection , any form of insurance - point - of view engineering protection is a requirement. That is without any doubt
     
  16. Dec 3, 2016 #16

    anvegger

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    That is definitely true. However the difference between regular metal construction vs Composite Construction frame is a number of parts. Usual amount of a metal only KIT is 1500 + parts and 13,500 + rivets to be applied to the airframe. The average Composite Construction frame is under 100 parts.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Dec 3, 2016 #17

    anvegger

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    Silicone Membrane Bagging is one of the state of the art multi-use laminating

    [video]http://www.nauticexpo.com/prod/magnum-venus-products/product-22249-248962.html#video[/video]
     
  18. Dec 3, 2016 #18

    autoreply

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    That's a lot of hassle. The only large win in construction time that needs significant tooling is joining in the molds... which will always stay at the manufacturer.

    By far the biggest win in build time for conventional kits is getting the builder up to speed and build confidence.

    As for a composites shop... mine (stone) occasionally is below freezing. Big comfort issue, but works for most work, save metal.

    As for infusing or laminating, a big electric heater is all you need. No more than 100 bucks...
     
  19. Dec 3, 2016 #19

    Topaz

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    First off, let me say that I fully appreciate your out-of-the-box (or maybe "in-the-box"?) thinking. One of the things that will move homebuilding along is innovative new business models. So kudos.

    What follows is not criticism, but rather some questions I think would need to be answered before a venture like this could be successful. I'm a small business owner, so I'm looking at your idea through that lens. While I read your inital couple of posts, I only skimmed some of the later ones, so forgive me if some of these questions have already been covered.

    The first thing that strikes me is how much capital you're going to have tied up with each builder. In essence, you're going to be replicating most of an airplane-building shop or factory for every single customer. That's a lot of money tied up with each builder while they have the "Kitster" on-site. The mark-up you're going to have to do on the kit to finance each "mini-factory" seems like it will be enough to make the competitve value of providing them a complete "shop" negligable to me. How do you see this issue?

    A collateral issue is how many of these "kitster" shop/containers can you keep going and shuffling around the country at the same time? Let's say you make 50 of them. And then you get 75 orders. What happens to the other 25 builders? They just wait?

    Which brings up another related issue: How long is each builder allowed to keep their "kitster" shop? I presume that "once they're done", they return the containers. How long are they allowed to keep them? While it's a nice assumption that providing a "lab" or a "shop" will mean that they drop everything and get the airplane done in two weeks, or a month, or whatever, the reality is that some people just take five years to build an airplane, regardless of how "quick-build" that airplane-building process might be. Do they get to keep the shop the entire time they need it? If not, what do they do then? Just stop building? Go back into the queue for available shops? Do you "rent" the shop, based on how long they keep it, and just keep collecting rent as long as they need the thing? I'm trying to figure out how you reconcile the reality of slow-building customers against the need to keep the inventory of shops small, and constantly moving to new customers. You're going to have a LOT of money tied up in each shop. Unless the returns on renting out each shop are very high compared to the revenue of getting a customer into the program, you'll need to keep the shops moving quickly with the shortest possible retention by each customer. Otherwise, you're just tying up money in equipment that's sitting in the customer's driveway, earning you little.

    Liability also seems to be an issue to me. You're providing the tools, and essentially providing the facility. Who pays for the customer that drills a hole in his hand, or cuts off a finger with the fabric-cutting shear? Can you count on every customer to have appropriate insurance (and not claim the injury was the fault of your equipment), or are you going to have to carry liability coverage against user injuries? I'd guess the latter.

    How would someone like me work with this business model? I live in a condominium complex. I can't drop a set of containers in the parking lot for weeks or months. Do I just not build your design?

    Shipping and transport seems like it could be an issue as well. You have 47 of your 50 containers rented out, and an order comes in from California. The three you have available, just wrapping up with their builders, are on the east coast. Shipping an entire container across the country isn't cheap, in the scheme of kitplane kit costs. Who pays for transporting the containers around the country, and by what mechanism? (i.e. - Your customers ultimately pay for everything. Are they paying for shipping directly, or is a generalized shipping cost tacked on to every purchase?) PODS gets around this by having many licencees around the country, with at least one being fairly close to each area where they advertise. Kitplane companies are national businesses - you won't have the luxury of limiting your customer base geographically to areas you can serve quickly and inexpensively.

    Like I said, these are NOT criticisms. But you'll need to be able to answer these questions before you could hope to launch a business like this successfully.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  20. Dec 3, 2016 #20

    cheapracer

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    Yup, end of story.

    Taking the anthill to the ant.
     

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