TechniqueOct 24 2018
Human hands and eyes are also indispensable for adjusting machine operations precisely. Artificial intelligence (AI) cannot easily imitate the sense for flexible adjustments that craftsmen have cultivated over the years. We remain determined to manufacture high quality products in Japan in a bid to improve the technologies and conditions that are necessary for reliable manufacturing. In this section, we introduce the people who support this manufacturing at SHINDO. They are artisans working at our plant in Fukui Prefecture, a place blessed with abundant nature.
I am currently responsible for weaving of a variety of textiles such as ribbons and suspenders, underwear straps, and watch straps. I mainly manage the progress of design operation after receiving an order.
There is no design drawing when the customer places an order for a made-to-order product, and so I imagine the final product on the basis of the request and the item, and I consider which loom is the best one to use for production while I create a design drawing and choose the type of thread, also taking into consideration the conditions for processing and ensuring that they are adequate for the requirements of physical properties such as flame resistance. I sometimes talk to the other engineers before creating the final design drawing.
Occasionally, a customer provides me with specific instructions regarding the image, but there are a variety of cases: the customer brings in an image sample, only designates the material, draws a picture, or communicate the image orally. In a sense that there is not only a single answer or interpretation, there can be an infinite number of customer requests. In my case, I am motivated by the fact that I can think freely on my own to create a product with which the customer is satisfied.
I joined SHINDO more than 30 years ago. Over a long time, I experienced a series of textile creating processes ranging from separation to warping, looming, covering, shrinkage set processing and trial dyeing. Since I like to read a design drawing and assemble an item, and to understand the structure of things, I found the Monozukuri (Manufacturing) in each process rewarding. My father ran his own business and had a variety of carpenter's tools at home, so I developed ideas in my own head from childhood, and carved pieces of wood to create toys myself. Now that I come to think of it, I did something very interesting (laughs). I believe that I am suited to my current job partly because of the experience of Monozukuri (Manufacturing) in my childhood. I do not really like to repeat the same operations, and I am constantly coming up with new ideas, wondering whether there is a good way of delivering better results. In a constant quest to make good products, I work every day, studying machines and thinking about methods.
At a time when I was racking my brain, I hit upon a method that was different from the one that I was using at that time, and employed this original method of mine to weave a product. When I took the completed product to the President, who constantly gave me advice, he was surprised, saying "How did you create this? This is wonderful!" That was the moment when I felt that I had created something wonderful that was better than I had expected using my own method. Not only turn the customer's image into a product, but create something that exceeds the customer's expectations. The more I think, the better the product becomes. I found this job really interesting.
When we participated in a competition for a major underwear brand, we were invited later than other companies, and I can honestly say that our company was somewhat inferior to the other competitors in terms of facilities. "If we just do things normally, we can't meet their requirements nor win the competition," we thought. Accordingly, I thought that I should use my ideas and skills to focus on quality. When we were about to ship the product, which we had done our best to finish using the facilities we had at the time, "Can we improve the quality further by revamping our current method?" or "Use our creativity more and make details more precise," and we worked on improving the level of our finished product until the last minute. It was said that our facilities at the time were insufficient to create a product that would meet the customer's requirements 100%, but we improved the quality to a higher level by replacing the part with one that was built in other equipment or by making fine adjustments and cooaperating with the staff.
Consequently, our company won the competition and received the order. The time when I struggled together with my colleagues and shared the resulting pleasure led to a strong bond. Later, when I asked the person in charge at the client why we had won the competition, the person simply replied that the product was simply good. When I heard that, I felt that the product was truly the quintessential work of an artisan. The harder you try, the better the product will be. Taking on the challenge leads to the creation of a new product. I understood this, and it made what I am today, someone who thinks of trying harder to enhance added value. A strong commitment to quality and never-give-up spirit. With these mottos the SHINDO brand embraces in my heart, I will work on the in-house development of a highly functional product by using the latest technology, creating original products that meet a variety of needs.
Artisans playing an important role for SHINDO vol.2