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Iron-Mills November Update


Hello everyone 👋

Thank you for checking back in for our November update. In this post, we'll cover everything that we have been working on throughout November! 

Regulatory Compliance & Material Testing

Throughout November we have predominantly been working hard to demonstrate compliance with the relevant regulations that govern 'materials and articles in contact with food'.

Rightly so, the rules surrounding food contact are very strict in the UK/EU markets. We are committed to providing a quality product that will be safe to use for generations. 

The legislation is written to protect consumers but mainly with large manufacturers in mind. Because of this, we have been consulting with both Trading Standards and The Food Standards Agency (FSA) to apply the rules in a proportionate fashion to the scale of our operation.

We are waiting for a final decision to be made by the FSA as to how they would like us to demonstrate compliance. The likely outcome is that we will be asked to conduct material migration testing in a laboratory, which is unfortunately quite expensive. We designed our range and picked materials and coatings with direct food contact and safety in mind. Because of this, we are hoping that we will pass these tests without an issue. We diligently selected coatings that would not be harmful in contact with food. We have planned for this by liaising with testing laboratories in preparation to speed up the process. 

Unfortunately at the time of writing this, we have not received a final decision as to how we are to demonstrate compliance, so we cannot yet advise whether this will affect the delivery dates of your orders. We are confident that our first production batch of products will be built soon. However, finding testing laboratories, that are UKAS accredited and have the capabilities to conduct these kinds of tests has been a real challenge. We are pleased to announce that we do have a handful of labs working on test plans for us. Expect another update shortly where we will provide more detail!

We will be in touch with each of you individually with more detail around how this might affect your order. We will of course offer a full refund to anyone that does not wish to wait, with our sincere apologies! 

We'd like to apologise for writing this update without having all of the facts. But we have been communicating to our customers that we'd be posting a monthly blog post at the end of each month. We wanted to honour that promise!  

Manufacturing Progress

We have some slightly more positive news to share with you all on the manufacturing side. If you read our last blog post, you will be aware that we have received our second batch of castings! These are now working their way through the CNC machine shop and are soon to be delivered to the coating company, ready for paint. There are now only a handful of steps left before this batch of mills is ready (subject to material testing).

The first batch of castings have also had their interior and exterior coatings applied this week. This will really bring the product to life and we're really excited to see how they've come out. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, we haven't had an opportunity to collect them yet (expect pictures to be added to this post very soon).

Packaging

In other news, this month we have taken delivery of our packaging - another exciting milestone in the Iron-Mills journey. We decided to use a die-cut kraft brown box, printed with our logo - we'll use these with an external mailer box. Inside the box, the mills will come inside a lovely cotton drawstring bag for added protection. Plus, we will also be including a filling funnel with each order for our first customers.

Tooling

We have also designed and commissioned production tooling for use in the casting process. Initially, we only had one pattern to make all the moulds with. This meant that we could only produce one mill at a time, a time-consuming process that cost a pretty penny!

We hadn't envisaged the need to upgrade the tooling quite so soon - but there are a number of benefits to getting it done early.

The patterns that we will be using in the new year produce four mills at once, allowing us to increase our output, therefor reducing lead-times. To create the void where the salt/pepper resides, we currently use a sand core, these are currently made by hand at the foundry. In the new year, we are going to outsource production of the cores to a specialist local company, which will improve the quality of the casting and reduce the scrap rate. Finally, because the top and bottom half of the new mould will be mounted on a hinged board. The alignment between the two halves will be greatly improved.

All of the above said none of these changes will mean that the products we deliver next year will be any different in terms of quality. They will, however, reduce the amount of time we spend grinding and filing the castings before we send them for paint!

Message From Guy

I wanted to finish off the post by saying a huge thank-you to everyone that has visited the site, made a purchase and to all of the suppliers I have been working with! It's amazing to find so many people that have been searching for a good quality mill like ours for so long. I am thrilled to be working away on them and can't wait to actually start shipping them!

On a side note, it's worth mentioning that we have received all of our stock of mechanisms, spindles, tapered bungs, pins, screws, stickers handle knobs and everything else that goes into making these products. I really do feel that we are so close now! My better half is already fed up of 'all the gubbins' stored all around the house! It looks like I will have to try and find her something nice for Christmas to make up for it! 🤠