Back in my old engineering days I spent a lot of time in factories – usually having a guided tour. Even though I was there to sell something, the factory manager would invariably be very proud of his or her production facility and enjoy showing someone around. I enjoy learning about machines so was a willing participant (besides the fact that it also got me out of having to so actual work!) Back in those days I was selling industrial knives abroad so was looking around factories such as Tayto in Ireland Bosal in Belgium, but the one thing all of these factories had in common was they had a production line with machines using knives.
One of my favourite factories I visited in my engineering time was a newspaper production facility just outside Dublin. Seeing the newspapers flying along above your head was incredible and learning about the machines was fascinating. I also had no idea before about how abrasive paper can be – the cropping knives need to be replaced very regularly! In more recent times, one of my favourite factories I’ve visited has been a brewery bottling facility. Getting your favourite bitter into a can or bottle really isn’t a straightforward as you’d imagine, however, some would argue that no matter the complexity, it’s still worth it!
It’s amazing to think that a lot of the machines you’ll find in a modern factory may not exist anywhere else in the same form. They’re not something that you choose from a catalogue or pick off a shelf. Yes, many are similar but many special purpose machines are actually a bespoke assembly machine that are made to order to do a certain task based on the individual requirements of each factory. And there are some very specialist companies producing these machine too for example, producing assemble machines to make screws for earrings, irrigation drippers, for weaving harnesses, for clothes pegs, for breathalysers, gas lighter valves, smart cards, keys and locks, and plaster dowels. Next time you enjoy your packet of Walkers, think of the amount of work that have gone into the machines that made them for you