Interview with person in charge of manufacturing large THINKY MIXER models
November 22, 2017｜Topic
All THINKY products, including the THINKY MIXER, undergo a variety of steps ranging from planning to design, production, inspection, and shipment, until they reach customers. In the manufacturing process in particular, with a view to quality products manufacture, work is carried out with a sincere attitude every single day in cooperation with affiliated factories.
This time around, we paid a visit to the factory located in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, where the manufacture, assembly, and inspection of large THINKY MIXER models (ARV-5000, ARV-3000TWIN, and ARV-10kTWIN) and the ARC-600TWIN large-scale filling machine take place, and asked Mr. Takafumi Oda, who is in charge of the final manufacturing process, about manufacturing in an interview.
1. What types of products are mainly manufactured at this factory?
We manufacture, assemble, and inspect large THINKY MIXER products here. Many pieces of large metal working machinery, such as lathe, milling or grinding machines, are deployed here. Many of these machines are fitted with CNC (Computerized Numerical Control), and we are proud to say that most of the members of this factory are highly skilled professionals who can perform both roles as a software programmer and a machine operator. Nowadays, many things are automated, but still proficient human skills are required. Needless to say, all those who handle manual procedures have outstanding skills and techniques as well. Each and every part is also manufactured here. Because we make everything internally, we can enjoy economies of scale, and most importantly, we can have a firm grasp of our products, which is the biggest advantage.
Large THINKY MIXER machines are shipped from this factory to customers both at home and abroad.
*The shaft part of the ARC-600TWIN: Although this part is not visible to the customer, it is also made in the factory.
*The rotating body of the ARV-3000TWIN before the milling process: Each weighs 150 kg, and is reduced to 30 kg after the process.
2. In this factory, you play a key role in commercializing what is designed. Have you ever encountered any difficulties in playing such a role?
I have been involved with the THINKY MIXER ARV-3000TWIN from the prototype stage of the first machine. Almost 20 years have passed, including the prototype stage. Based on my experience up to now, I believe that the most important thing is communication with those in charge of design.
I think that how much we can talk at the stage before a plan is drawn is a big factor. Even before drawing a plan, we talk about what material to use. By establishing close communication with each other, we will be able to deepen each other’s understanding, and although it may seem that we are taking the long way around, ultimately, we will be able to avoid mistakes and thus increase efficiency. I suppose that this is true of any job.
3.As the head of the factory, how do you face your role?
It may be a matter of course but when my colleagues or subordinates do a good job, I praise them, and when they do a poor job, I admonish them. It’s as simple as that. As for myself, I believe that it’s only natural to accomplish what I have decided to do. When it comes to work, of course I can do that. What work boils down to is to get everything done without making a fuss, no matter what job I find myself in. Many years ago, the company was run by a handful of people, so I would do various things: using a drilling machine to bore a hole on a product forwarded from the sheet-metal process, blowing and polishing, as well as spray painting and deburring. When paint became dry, I would assemble the product and deliver it to the customer by truck. This environment forced me to get used to all the manufacturing steps to a certain extent, but I followed through with what I had to do.
I was not this type of person from the very beginning, however. I had no patience as a child and was often scolded for that. To overcome this, I began making plastic models. I started with very simple ones and worked on huge ones that were as large as 80 cm by the time I became a junior high school student. Gradually, I got angry at myself when glue stuck out… I did deburring and others as well. The reason I came to understand product structure and other details may have something to do with this experience.
4. To what point do you pay attention when you assemble a large machine?
This is not confined to this machine but basically, assembling a machine is synonymous with “tightening a bolt.” You should never forget to tighten a bolt. As for the THINKY MIXER, as 400 G force is applied on the rotating body, it would be a disaster if any bolt comes off.
I make sure that all parts are finished properly, and would never go ahead if I suspect something is wrong with a part in the assembly process.
I also pay attention to the inspection process. Some parts are plated after the inspection process. Depending on the part, the size may change after that. If it is a part to be hammered in, I have to clearly identify the force that should be applied in the assembly process. I can’t make light of anything.
One more thing. This may apply to the factory as a whole, and based on the belief that keeping things in order is absolutely necessary, I exercise extreme caution on a daily basis. I believe that an accident may happen due to a tiny thing. Don’t you get frightened when you have a near miss? I consider it to be an accident and firmly believe that we must prevent it from occurring. You should never let even a single cord at your feet lead to a fall or an accident.
5. Finally, could you give a message to large THINKY MIXER machine users?
Our THINKY MIXER machines may seem like a mere product or a machine, but I pour my soul into making them. Our customers may be pressed by production work and have no time to think about handling the machine with care on a daily basis, but I hope that the machine would be handled with care. The reason is that if you use our THINKY MIXER in a way that would cause it to break down, production would stop and repair might be costly.
As the one who made THINKY MIXER, I would like our customers to use it with care. I would be very happy if this machine is used while thinking that there will be people who pay money to get a product made using it.