The whole world is fighting with this pandemic, which did not bypass us either. Supply chains have gone through major disruption and are still recovering. Country restrictions, such as those placed on our company in Croatia, are limiting our capabilities. Even shipping companies have greatly increased their delivery times. Nothing is as it used to be, and we are doing our best to deliver Inkplate 6 to you on time. Unfortunately, given the situation, we are guessing that you were all waiting for an update like this.
For Inkplate 6, there are two critical parts: electronics and the e-paper display. The electronics were never expected to have supply chain issues. PCBs and components and pretty standard, and there are many manufacturers of the former and many distributors of the latter. The e-paper displays, on the other hand, are much harder to obtain, and this is particularly true of the part number used in Inkplate 6. ED060SC is an e-paper display that has been used on older Kindle readers, and now it can only be bought recycled—which is great for the environment, but not so great when it comes to sourcing.
Recycling companies that carry parts like this tend to be in China, and our supplier has been closed for a while now. The Spring Festival is the biggest holiday in China, and all companies close so their employees can go to their home towns. And, as you know, the pandemic struck immediately afterwards, so many companies have been forced to remain closed. This is what happened to our e-paper supplier. While they were finally able to re-open on the 10th of March, they then had to prepare a large quantity of displays, and they needed some time to get them ready for shipping.
The good news is, just this morning, we received notification that the screens have arrived at Croatian customs. It will take few more days for them to reach us, as customs officials are working at reduced capacity as well. Once we have them, we have to test each screen to confirm its quality, which is a time-consuming process.
When manufacturing Maker Displays for our previous campaign, we were able to deliver our product even earlier than we promised, and we were very much looking forward to doing the same for Inkplate 6. We were supposed to start shipping the first units on April 1st, however, and that clearly did not happen. We’ve lost 40 to 50 days due to unexpected delays related to the e-paper screens, and we must now acknowledge that we are going to be late. That said, we expect the total delay to be less than 50 days, and we plan to ship last batch by the date promised in the campaign.
Our new estimated ship date for the first batch of Inkplates is May 20th. We expect to ship all units by July 2nd.
We are genuinely sorry about this delay. It was completely out of our hands, and we have been doing our best. We will continue to do our best in order to deliver a quality product as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience! If you have any questions, we are available as usual.