We are looking for feedback regarding the FRC Kit of Parts (KoP)!
We would like KoP feedback from one mentor (adult) and one student (preferably a team captain if your team has one designated) for each of the over 1,300 2007 FRC teams! Mentors, please forward the information for the survey to your student/team captain so that he/she can fill the survey out as well (FIRST does not have email addresses for students).
Please visit (link is in original email) to tell us what you really think! If you have trouble clicking on the link, please copy the url and paste it into your web browser. The survey takes less than 15 minutes and is available until July 11th, 2007.
We are excited to review your feedback and hope it will help us improve the KoP and the KoP process.
This is actually a very interesting survey, it leads me to believe that FIRST is considering big changes to how we get the parts in the KoP. Even sounds like they are considering when we get the KoP and how. Personally I always find there are things in the KoP we never use, and there are parts we can never get enough of. I personally like the idea of being able to choose more of what comes in your team’s KoP to personalize it to your team’s needs and reduce the amount of wasted unused parts.
I think it would be cool if they could use this data to perhaps save money not only for themselves but for other teams. If they could make a website with a shopping cart and a user name and password, teams could shop for parts that they needed. They could also potentially save money for some parts, but they could also have in bold print that certain parts will be sent to them with their order no matter what because they are required.
[Check Out]] - The following mandatory parts will be shipped along with your order: RC, OI, etc.
This could not only save FIRST money but this could potentially also help create some sort of financial aid for FRC due to the amount they save (if any).
I’ve been totally open to the idea of an a la cart KoP because 1023 uses VERY FEW of the supplied items. If they take orders way back when we register in the fall, they can ask donors for LESS items and save money on things that wont be used. They can also reduce the registration fee for teams and invite more participation with the lowered cost.
So maybe teams could be allowed to purchase supplemental items later on.
A staggered price scheme could even be developed, and it would allow items from the KoP to be purchased individually. It would reward proactive teams who order their stuff well beforehand, and it wouldn’t punish teams who need to pick up extra stuff after kickoff.
Here’s my example staggered price scheme–
“way back when we register in the fall” to 4 weeks before kickoff: 75% of full price of the KoP item
4 to 3 weeks: 80%
3 to 2 weeks: 85%
2 to 1 weeks: 90%
1 to 0 weeks: 95%
My worry is that with where some of the kit of parts items come from, if you didn’t select them when you ordered your custom kit, you might not be able to ever get them again unless you traded with other teams.
Also, I’ll take a guess that the issue here is not to reduce the registration fee, but to keep it from rising.
This has been brought up many times at the team forums. The answer from FIRST in the past has been that it’s too complicated to have to assemble “custom” kits for each team, track them, and make sure they get to the right kickoff event. The implication was that it might actually be more expensive to give you a custom kit of less stuff than to just give you want you don’t need. There may also be a sponsor issue - much of it is donated and perhaps the sponsors are hoping you have a ingenious idea in week 3 and pull out their widget from the KOP and use it? (speculation on my part of course).
I only suggested it because thee survey asked what type of kit we preferred based on ‘complete robot’ ‘some parts that you may use’ ‘etc’ and it asked how we preferred to choose the parts we wanted: -everyone gets the same, -kit A, B, or C, - ala cart, -etc.
I also suspect that First gets a lot of these parts at a volume discount. Ordering 1300 Van Door Motors, for instance, probably gets you a bit of a price cut.
Therefore, not being able to gaurantee a certain order amount from each company might actually make individual part prices rise, and offset any potential savings.
It might save money for the teams who don’t use much from the KOP - but it would probably cost the teams who do use a large portion of the KOP more. That would be the exact opposite of what you wanted, because the teams that use the KOP are the ones who likely can’t afford much else.
While I think a “a la carte” Kit Of Parts is an interesting concept, implementing it in the real world would just be a nightmare for FIRST and teams. Just like in engineering a mechanism, the more points you create where something can go wrong, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. K.I.S.S. doesn’t just apply to robots. http://www.team228.org/images/emoticons/wink.gif
Even if our team don’t use parts from a particular KoP that particular, we just keep the parts for prototyping for the next season. This year, our team went through the equivalent of 2 Kitbot chassis (which we have never used) in prototyping ideas. We still keep all our Victor 883 speed controllers from older robots on hand, as they still work for prototyping and/or low-current mechanisms on practice robots. Just because you may not use every component in the KoP every year doesn’t mean it won’t find a useful purpose at some point in time.
Or if your team has these extra parts, and is in a graciously professional mood, why not donate them to a new rookie team to help get their team started? Surely, for a rookie team who doesn’t have a huge (or at least modest) “archive” of parts on hand that established teams do, any additional parts for them would be a Godsend. http://www.team228.org/images/emoticons/cool.gif
Rather than FIRST [try to] overly complicate the Kit of Parts, why not have them officially “endorse” something like CD-Swap for the spare parts from Kit that teams are willing to donate/trade to other teams. It would take a lot less manpower on their behalf (which saves $$$), and would only strengthen the program while building gracious professionalism. Two birds, one stone.
Did anyone else notice the questions skip from #5 to #12?
I agree with the tried and true system of one common kit of parts for everyone that is available to most right after kickoff. Not only does it cut down on additional sorting and tracking headaches for FIRST, but I’ve always liked the idea of every team starting out with the exact same base set of components. Here’s your kit and the game rules - ready, set, go! Besides, you shouldn’t let the extra parts from your build sit at home on a shelf somewhere! In addition to Art’s excellent suggestions, another option is to bring your extra unused kit parts with you to competitions. Sometimes you don’t know a part is useful until someone experiences that “Oh fiddlesticks I wish I had a so and so!!!” (thinks of Paul Copioli) moment during a robot crisis at an event. Also, we all know how shorthanded the spare parts table is with certain items. There’s always that one major part everyone needs that the table just doesn’t have. If you don’t need it, chances are, someone else will. Not only is it fun to give your spare stuff away, it’s practical - you will end up with less stuff cluttering your shop storage bins at the end of each season.
If each team makes an effort to support all other teams by using CD-Swap to exchange parts from their fixed kits and by swapping or giving them away at competitions, eventually the majority of the parts teams find useful will be distributed to the teams that need them.
From a supplier’s perspective, how much of the kit is donated? What items are sold to FIRST at a discount? I imagine the suppliers who provide the “lesser used” parts all donate their products. That means a very justified tax writeoff. I don’t know - would they rather hold onto their parts and not give them out ahead of time if these surveys generally classified them as “not useful”, or would they instead still prefer to give their parts out to everyone with the knowledge that at least one team will use their products and find enjoyment in integrating them into the robot, and that is justification enough for donating? I thank the “little guy” suppliers who may not see much use out of their products but still manage to inspire a few FIRST students all the same.
What I would love to see is a prize for the best use of KoP items. I could be as simple as most creative use to greatest percent of the robot from the kit. It would be a neat prize for those young teams without a lot of material/monetary support
I think that giving teams options on the kit is not a great idea. It would absolutely KILL if, a few days before ship, you have a situation like this:
P1: Okay, lets hope this works robot makes bad noise P2: the wrist motor is backdriving, switch it out for a window motor. P1: We don’t have another window motor because we wanted the extra chassis material, remember? P2: (insert the words often replaced by stars you would use here)
Its a good idea in theory, but I don’t think its really worth the problems that could come up.