Today we're taking you on a behind-the-scenes tour of our shop, where we assemble the GRIT Freedom Chair. If you find yourself in Boston, come see us! For everybody else, we hope you enjoy this virtual tour.
But first, a little context
There are a lot of different strategies for manufacturing a product. At the two extremes, the options are:
- Hiring a manufacturer or sourcing firm to take care of all production. They do all of the manufacturing and assembly, and you get a shipping container full of boxed products, ready to ship to customers.
- Manufacturing everything in house. This gives you the most control over the process, but requires you to have the tools, team, and expertise to fabricate all of the parts you need.
As a small team, we definitely don't have the resources to manufacture everything in house. However, there are a lot of risks associated with having an outside firm managing everything. So we're in the space between these two options.
We partner with three different manufacturers, all in the United States, to make the custom parts of the GRIT Freedom Chair (check out this this earlier blog post to learn more about this production methodology). We order all of our bike parts, fasteners, and other parts from national distributors. Everything gets shipped to our Boston office, where it's inspected, catalogued, and put on the shelf, where it waits to be assembled.
"If you use bike parts, why do you need to manufacture anything at all" is a question we get asked a lot and there's a simple answer: while we use bike parts whenever possible on the GRIT Freedom Chair, they only make up around a quarter of the total number of parts.
The other three quarters of the chair is custom designed by GRIT. We worked really hard to identify the parts that are most likely to wear down over time, or need replacement, and made sure that those parts are commonly available bike parts so that the chair is easy to maintain and repair. For all of the other parts, we put a lot of engineering talent and time into making sure that they will last for the lifetime of the chair. And if anything comes up, those custom parts are all covered by our amazing warranty.
Parts, parts, parts
The GRIT Freedom Chair has over 150 individual parts, which is a lot to keep track of! It would be pretty inefficient to start building each new chair from scratch, one at a time. Instead, we assemble the individual parts into batches of sub-assemblies, so they're ready to assemble into complete chairs when an order comes in.
For example, the push levers of the GRIT Freedom Chair are wrapped in soft handlebar tape and then capped on the end; we wrap levers in batches, and then store them so they're ready to go when it's time to assemble a new order. The same is true for the bearings on our quick release wheels: they get inserted and the parts are screwed into each other in batches so they can be ready to go at a moment's notice.
We keep all of our parts from fasteners, like nuts and bolts, to complete subassemblies organized on a long wall in our shop. There's a place for everything and everything has its place. We even take advantage of the high ceilings by storing wheels high along the wall!
A new order
When you order a GRIT Freedom Chair, we get to work assembling it, often that very day. With sub-assemblies ready and waiting and the remaining parts in stock, we can usually ship it within a day or two! Unfortunately, there are always bumps in the road - over the summer we experienced an unforeseen delay with one of our manufacturing partners, we are currently shipping in six weeks.
The next step involves putting the frame of the chair up on our assembly table, where the rest of the parts get built on to it. First we attach the seat and drivetrain, followed by the levers, wheels, backrest, and the finishing decals. Finally, each GRIT Freedom Chair gets its own unique serial number plate.
We stand behind what we build and only want to deliver the highest quality product to you, so we inspect every part from our manufacturers and suppliers as soon as they arrive at our office and nip any problems in the bud. We inspect every sub-assembly before it's cleared to be built into a complete chair. But our most important quality check comes after final assembly, when each GRIT Freedom Chair goes through a detailed 40-point quality control check. We fully inspect the chair to make sure it works well and looks good.
On to packing
Each GRIT Freedom Chair is then disassembled and carefully packed in our custom-designed box for shipping. We designed the inserts inside the box to hold every part of the chair safely in place. For extra security, we wrap it with straps and add safety stickers so that it gets handled with care. Then it's picked up by UPS and starts its journey home to you.
Are you ready to get rolling? The next Freedom Chair we build could be yours! Shop Now
The GRIT Freedom Chair is the most versatile chair on the market, designed from the ground up to handle any terrain. From trails to grass to snow, the Freedom Chair is built for you to push yourself. Born out of research at MIT, the Freedom Chair's patented easy-push levers reduce shoulder strain and put you in control of your mobility. Ready to hit the trails. Learn more about the GRIT Freedom Chair at www.gogrit.us