Another Reason Why We Need a Revolution in Manufacturing: Get Legacy Kruft Out of the Supply Chain

Through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, I backed a project called Bug-A-Salt, an air gun that fires a load of salt at flies and other flying insects.  As we say a Valhalla, a small bet on a big win.

Here’s a picture of the device.

 

 

BUG-A-SALT 20120910022859-bugasalt-exterminating-4359-500x416

The entrepreneur, Lorenzo Maggiore, has overcome all design obstacles and produced, with an overseas manufacturer, a first run:

 

Lorenzo Maggiore posted an announcement 17 days ago

A humble thank you from the BUG-A-SALT Team to each and every one of our 10,768 contributors. Your energy, enthusiasm and incredible support has inspired us in a way that was impossible to imagine only 66 days ago when the campaign was launched. The final hard work now begins to get over 21,400 guns in the hands of the new BUG-A-SALT army spread out in 70 different countries around the world. Check back here for frequent updates on delivery dates and thanks in advance for your patience—we are building the business not only right under our feet but right in front of your eyes.
Thanks again,
Lorenzo

Now the fun begins.  Lorenzo is trying to import the first 7000 units, and runs afoul of one of those legacy constructs, government and Customs.  Here’s the deal:
Lorenzo Maggiore posted an announcement 4 hours ago

Post Campaign Update #3

To all our restless and excited Indiegogo supporters: Below is a letter from our Custom’s agent yesterday (names blocked) regarding our first container load of 7,000 guns now being inspected in US Customs. Please remember and forgive us—we are first time business people trying to deliver on a magnitude of orders much, much bigger than we ever anticipated. The logistics of manufacturing, ocean transport, Customs, and fulfillment are complicated. We underestimated timeframes but we are learning and we are trying our best! Hang tight and get ready to pity the fly….

xxx,

Since container is at exam site on the floor, if it gets released tomorrow, they will still have to re-load and will give us until Monday to pick up without charging storage. I just left a message for Customs to find out status and I have to wait for their call back. I also called the exam site and they advised that CPSC is also examining this container since these are air guns. The lady at exam site reminded me that today is just the second day that exam is in progress and Customs/CPSC have 5 working days to decide what they want to do so that would be until next Tuesday. I’ll keep checking and provide status daily.

Best regards,
xxxxxxxxx, CHB
Assistant Import Manager

 

The problem?  Customs doesn’t know what to do with something like this.  Years ago, a scientist I worked for was telling a story about a colleague of his trying to import a box of (harmless) microorganisms into Turkey.

The Customs rep asked what it was.

The scientist said it was microorganisms.

The rep asked what a “microorganism” was.

The scientist said it was a tiny animal.

The rep asked how many he was importing.

The scientist said “about 100 million.”

The rep looked up “100 million small animals” in his book of customs duties and proposed to charge the scientist a huge sum.

Shorter supply chains — which the Maker Movement and other technologies can bring us — avoid legacy entities like governments and Customs authorities.

And get us our Bug-A-Salt units faster.

 

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