Our plastic formers, who make our Chew-proof dog beds are very good and knowledgeable. Nichola, the boss, took my foam model back to their factory to have a think about how to develop the tool. The first thing that happens is that they get a tool maker to make a wooden tool, which can be used to form a small number of dog beds before the heat and strain is too much and the wood starts to break up. This is very important because if there are any changes to be done, it is cheaper to change the wooden tool than to change a metal tool once it’s made.
I went to the factory when the wooden tool was ready to witness the first Raised Dog beds being made. It is an impressive process as the plastic is gently melted just enough to get soft and “formable”, but not so it breaks. There is air blown in under the sheet so that it forms a humongous bubble suspended in the air only fastened on the edges. The operator presses a pedal and the tool is shut upwards at the same time as the machine shifts from blowing a bubble to forming a vacuum and the plastic sheet suddenly looks like a Raised Dog Bed. It’s like magic and a bit frightening as it suddenly jumps out of the plain sheet.
We were all very excited and I immediately stood in it to test that all was well. The staff at the plastic formers did give out a gasp, which was slightly surprising, and they seemed very relieved that I didn’t break it by standing in it. I should maybe have known that there was not quite the confidence in the product as I would like. However, it took my weight, and I was happy. As I got out in the car park I met a family with a Labrador, who willingly let me put their dog into the bed and it fitted perfectly.
The real production could start once the metal tool had been formed, which takes a few weeks. So eventually we could see the end of the tunnel and expect our Raised Dog Beds to arrive very soon, which made me stick my neck out and launch them on line. Orders were coming in and we had a looong list when we finally took delivery of the beds. This was going to be another fine string in our bow of top quality dog beds, which we are renowned for. We took the first ones off the pallets and our hearts sank!! They had weak areas and were clearly not strong. They were all sent back and a new, improved batch came a few weeks later. They were ok, but we were not overly happy. Reluctantly we sent them out and to our utter heart ache, some broke in transit.
Some were strong enough and customers were happy as the concept is spot on and very popular, but of course we can’t have the inconsistency in quality. Basically we had to start again. We have now changed the type of plastic used to a fantastically strong mixture of plastics and we are awaiting the latest batch in the next few days.
I have to say that the ones we kept here for doggy testing have been fantastic. They are everything you need to ask for in perfect dog beds. They are high off the ground, they are stylish, they have sides for draught exclusion and for the dog to rest his head on, they are fabulously simple to dismantle for washing, so they are hygienic. Our dogs go straight for them out of choice. I can’t wait to have them back in our repertoire of top quality dog beds.