Ideas, new tools, and production--what it takes to bring a new tool to life

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I am curious, when you guys develop new tools, just what did you have to do to get them into production? What goes into that?  

I note that your blower is pretty unique. I had one stop functioning on me a few days ago and a replacement is on its way in from shipping, and I tried unsuccessfully to figure out what the problem was and to repair the blower, though I later figured out through reasoning that the problem existed with the circuit--it was broken somewhere. By the time I realized that, however, and how to go about fixing that, I had already cut the battery port's wires, so now I can wire up a 56 volt EGO battery to just about anything with ease now, but that's a detail, the point is, I took out the plastic components that direct air, and I noticed how the plastic parts were sharp, with the sharp edges pointing in the direction of airflow in order to maximize airflow efficiency. I am curious about just what went into designing the blower, one to optimize efficiency, and two to make its mass production and sale practical. I am curious about this because I am curious about how EGO got started and how much time there was between the time at which the blower was conceived and the time at which it went into mass production and ultimately to the market.

I am curious about that because I am curious about how new ideas would play out, like an EGO backpack blower, for example. There is the idea. I spoke about backpack batteries and stuff like that, but now I wonder, you guys I will guess are designing new tools, and I wonder what kinds of ideas you would actually bring to life. There is also designing and building equipment for part construction and stuff like that, and there are costs and financial items to consider, it seems of course like a complex process. You find an idea for a tool that you think would lead to prosperity, then you tweak it t so it has its efficiency and functionality optimized and so that it is budget friendly and can be produced. You also work its structural integrity among other things.

This would give me an idea of what kind of time schedule there might be for future tools and what you'd want to get out there. I know that I am going to try to design a few blowers that would work well for the professional, though the easiest thing to do would probably be to use your current blower design and just have a backpack battery much like Husqvarna's so the pro could more easily use the blower. I just have to design some that would be stronger, ones that will blow more air and at a higher velocity, which is why I was working with fan design. If you for example have a blower that blows 720 CFM at 138mph or 960CFM at 184mph, then it would match that of professionals' backpack blowers and it would still get plenty of runtime, though due to a need for much higher input power, a high-capacity battery would be a necessity. I am sorely tempted to design this blower. 

I'd imagine that for a very high-capacity battery, a riding mower might be a practicality, or maybe just bigger lawn mowers or push blowers or stuff like that.  You've already nailed the string trimmer and the chainsaw... Yeah, so for pro gardeners and blower fanatics and hobbyists, this might be interesting.
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TheAtomTwister

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Posted 4 years ago

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Dan

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From my own experience, I have worked at many places in the engineering R&D side of things. It all starts with idea, designing, time, money, there's laws, patented pending stuff, grants, trial and error. It might not seem as easy as we think (cut and dry)

Yet if you want a great product we will have to wait to ensure products work and maintain properly.

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SCDC, Champion

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Add to the equation all of the safety and government regulations, it takes a while!
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Jennifer VandeWater, Community Manager

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Dan, you read our minds!  We are working on new products but nothing we can announce or confirm yet, unfortunately.
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Jacob

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If ego was to release a bunch of new products, like ryobi does ever few weeks it seems, i would be worried about the quality, because ryobi makes garbage IMO. Better quality means no cutting corners and making sure every part is designed correctly. This takes time. Although it has been a long time since anything has been released besides batteries.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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In my somewhat naive opinion, time to market depends mostly on your expectations of the product.

If you're a middle of the road store brand who needs to release something simply to plug a hole in your lineup and your priorities are geared more towards getting it out there quickly and doing so with high margins, you're probably going to contract the tool through a supplier who already makes it. The design process then becomes more focused simply on styling/packaging, frilly features, and in the case of cordless tools, doing what's necessary to make it work with your battery platform.

This approach will put the tool on the shelves in a minimum time, with minimal expense and minimum risk since it's based on components already being produced. It also results in a middle of the road product that will share many attributes of the tools that share its key components.

In the case of a company like Ego, which introduced cutting edge top of the line products with (at the time) higher voltage than anything else out there, and did so into a market full of very average products, it is very much a "clean sheet" design approach.

Consider the very young cordless outdoor power equipment market we're dealing with, and then consider Ego's desire and suscess (so far) at being at or near the top of the class with each of its products. The motors have to be sourced (or designed from scratch) to suit the application, then tested. The control electronics need to be designed, then tested. The system needs to be tested in prototype application specific builds. The supply chain needs to be secured, contracts drafted, revised, revised again. Any intellectual property that may be patent worthy needs to be explored. Any of those ideas need to be checked and re-checked against existing patents.

Then you have pre-production runs, beta level testing... then the results of your accelerated long term durability/performance/environmental contamination testing come in and changes need to be made. Drawings are revised over and over, manuals are written and re-written as the lawyers dig deeper and deeper.

And I'm absolutely certain I have only covered a fraction of the action. I've taken products from concept to production before, but it was in the automotive world where my parts were nothing more than a tiny piece of a very large and complicated piece of consumer hardware (a car). I would imagine there are tons of hurdles for a company launching a consumer product such as a lawn mower or hedge trimmer.

If I remember correctly, the launch of the initial Ego tool lineup was the result of 7 years of R&D. Much of that, for sure, was the development of the battery and charger system, but the effort it takes to produce top of the class award winning tools should not be under estimated either. Ego is not in the business of releasing cookie cutter tools that simply complete the lineup... as we have all seen, they are in the business of pushing the envelope. So much so that, even as their second year in the market is coming to a close their tools are still competitive, and in many cases class leading, in a market where most of their competition released their products AFTER (and as a result of) Ego launching theirs in the spring of 2014.

I have no doubt that if and when Ego releases more tools into their lineup, those tools will continue the tradition. Now where the heck is my Snowblower!?!?!?!?!?! :-)
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Jacob

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Agreed 100%. Hey EGO. Hire more designers. ;). Ill work for ya.
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TheAtomTwister

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Aye. Blue, I know somebody who'd like to meet you given what you've just told me about cars. I'm going to see if I can get his rump to the forum. 

Yes, it appears to me that EGO faces a lot more obstacles than do I when it comes to getting technology out there. I'm really more of a DIY guy that mostly crafts and tweaks things just for the hell of it. I'm working on various fan designs for upgrading jet blowers and I'm also working with Toro blowers in more ways than one. I'm eventually going to get another Ultra and remove the main power switch only to replace it... I'm going to try to turn it from a 12 amp blower to a 15 to 18 amp blower just to see what happens. 

I don't know. I have a lot of different projects underway now to say the least, and I don't really know what I want to do with things.  I've been wanting to film the EGO in action, but I don't have a decent working camera right now.  I might settle for an older camera that I use... It's just not going to be the easiest thing in the world for me given the way things are for me right now.

Well, if there is anything I can do to help, I'm here.  One of the things that I like about the EGO forum is that it is not only a medium in which customers can present their problems to EGO, it is a medium in which EGO can present its problems to the forumdwellers like myself and some of the other guys here. 
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TheAtomTwister

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By the way, I want to update this here, I'm not advertising for Tools in Action by any means, but Tools in Action came out with a video in which they suggested ideas for tools, and then shortly there after, they released another video of a tool that Black and Decker sent them. I'd like you to check that out, maybe see what it means, see if it may open new doors for possibility for EGO. 

Here is the link to the video of TIA coming up with ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc7tHsX8WeU

Here is the link of them going over the Black and Decker cordless glue gun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLI9rSLQtV8

Again, I'm not advertising TIA, I really think that this is something that EGO should look into, see if Black and Decker actually developed this in a week, and if it did, how they pulled that off.  I'd really like to see EGO come up with a lot of really good stuff really quickly, though I recognize that such is not exactly easy to do, but if you really go on to high gear and put work per unit time beyond belief into it, you'll be able to pump out some really good stuff quickly, depending on a few things of course. I don't know much about EGO's company layout, so I don't know how practical it is for EGO to go on hyperdrive, but it would be really awesome.
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David Cline

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Just to be fair, there is a huge difference between building a working prototype and devoping a premier product of the caliber Ego is known for. Black and Decker may have some great products, but I don't own a single one and tend to think of their products as junk. Someone recently gave me a B&D drill and I threw it away.

I would include Ego among premium brands like Apple and Samsung. Apple hasn't been the first to market with any of their products, yet their products are so much better than those first to market that they almost instantly dominate the segment at launch. If they rushed even a single product to market at the expense of quality then their reputation and brand would be instantly eroded.
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TheAtomTwister

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Aye, that's a good point. B&D probably sent a prototype to TIA.  I'll do a bit of investigating. I know that Toro is ahead of B&D in respect to quality and functionality.  

Black and Decker seems to be hit or miss with things, and I get the impression that B&D sent TIA that prototype to show that it's listening to TIA, assuming of course that such was a prototype. I would imagine that testing to check how well something would hold out under extensive use can be time consuming.  

It seems to be a tough market out there... That doesn't mean that there isn't a way. I did suggest or at least attempt to the idea of hyperdriving without losing quality... Again, there are too many things that are unknown for me to know that such is possible, so it is up to EGO to find out for itself about that. I know that I am in the business of invention and development of tools and items, and I know a bit about what goes into it, but I have my setup for creating things. I'm not in EGO's shoes, nor do I have a pair (unfortunately). I'm left with just presenting info and ideas with just what I do know, including the knowledge or awareness of what I do not know. 

I state this as Vulcans state facts, no emotions involved.