Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Watchmaking Pilgrimage - So Far

Five days into our watchmaking journey, we’ve already been to, and left, Singapore after undergoing an intense three days of training on our Wire Electrical Discharge Machining (WEDM) machine. If you’re not familiar with what a WEDM is, just think of it as an ultra high precision electrical bandsaw capable of cutting in 5 axes.

After a 2 hour delay, and an 8 hour flight, we arrived in Singapore at 2am on Tuesday morning, and were up at 7am to make our way to the factory. Though we were all completely exhausted from the quick turnaround, the adrenaline resulting from months of planning and excitement got us through the day.

First impressions left us gobsmacked. Makino is a Japanese company with over 4,200 employees spread across the globe that specialises in precision machine tools, serving industries from aerospace, aeronautical, automotive, medical and, of course, watchmaking.
It’s fair to say that if you’re in the advanced manufacturing business, you’ve either heard of, or own, a Makino machine.

Given the small size of our Sydney-based watchmaking company, (not confirmed, but probably the smallest company Makino has sold a machine to), it was a privilege to have been given the chance to train at their facility and see how an advanced machine tool manufacturer operates. Things that you’ve long read about but struggled to imagine in practice, such as process-improvement methodologies like Six Sigma, suddenly become clear.

The training was intense, and our instructor did his best to share with us everything he’d picked up in his decade at Makino alone. Thankfully, we’re confident we managed to keep up, and take away, invaluable experiences, though the true extent of our learning will become clearer once the machine is finally installed in our Brookvale facility and we undergo a second round of training in late February.

Next stop, Germany! We’ll be heading to Murnau to train at Kern Microtechnik, the manufacturers of our CNC milling machine. Stay tuned for further reports.  I’ll leave you with some pictures from the Makino factory. What you’re seeing is just a small portion of what we saw - I just wish there was a way to share the incredible sense of scale, efficiency, noise and smell that pervades throughout the facility.

Till next time,


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