When a German engineer came to train Josh and Tyler on our automated CNC lathe, I couldn't help but ask him, "What is the biggest challenge your customers face while running the lathe?" Without hesitation he said that the major problem is since these machines are designed to run independently 24/7 for months at a time producing one component, the machine operators simply forget how to reprogram them for new parts. At that moment it became clear that we must use our machine daily, learn how to make as many different components as we can, and rather than just preserve the knowledge received during the training, we have to build on it and expand. So right now it is not our priority to make components but to continue to the learn code and to make as many different components as possible.
Wednesday night I arrived home late but Josh insisted that we go to the workshop. We arrived there about 9pm and by 11 Josh had prepared the technical drawings to create another screw. The material was already loaded into a bar feeder but the tooling had to be set and calibrated. Then he wrote the machine code from scratch and we started manufacturing case screws. The production cycle was 46 seconds per screw, however, the moment of truth came when we measured the length. The actual length of the screw was 1.969mm which was just a micron within the intended length and in this case the screw length is the least critical dimension.
The next step now is to beautify the screws, which means deburring, polishing, hardening, re-polishing and bluing. The video below goes for exactly 46 seconds, the time required to make one screw. Enjoy the video.
We arrived home at midnight laughing, remembering a statement made to us by Swiss manufacturers a few years ago that Australian watchmakers are too old and too dumb to be trained. Who's laughing now?