Life in shoe manufacturing – around Christmas

These last few weeks we’ve had the milling machine, milling, the waterjet saw, waterjet sawing, and the injection molding machine, injection molding — non-stop. Well almost non-stop. There was a moment when the injection molding machine stopped injecting and we had to break it down to see why. It turns out that a steel nut had come loose from its bolt inside of the pellet mixer and found its way jammed into the nozzle orifice. This required us disassembling the nozzle into its 23 pieces, extracting the wayward nut, which fortunately caused no damage, and then re-assembling everything. The total time lost was just two hours, including the fifteen minutes it took to find the 23rd piece of the nozzle that we were sure we had lost. Let me tell you, that was a harrowing two hours. The nozzle is specially made for our machine. Meaning, we couldn’t very well just run out to get a new one at the Home Depot.

I have to admit, despite the Christmas music playing 24/7 in the factory, I’ve been a little stressed – just ask any of our local delivery guys. I had no idea we’d get a gazillion pre-Christmas orders. First, I was worried that the special little endmill bits we use for the molds would break (they did but we got more). Then I fretted that we wouldn’t have enough garnet for the waterjet saw to cut the molds for all the sizes (we ordered more). Then we discovered that a solenoid valve controlling the flow through the heat exchanger on the injection molding machine wasn’t working (we fixed it).

But as each size run of these v.2 shoes come off the line – absolutely, positively, perfect – I breathe a sigh of relief. Oh my gosh, they are beautiful.


About those delivery guys… For the last couple years I’ve been amused by their questions and unsolicited advice, like, “Is that a waterjet saw? (being clued in by a package that reads – for waterjet saw). You better be careful, you could cut your arm off with that thing.” But a couple weeks ago when one of them asked me, “What do you have all over your shirt?” I about ripped his head off (which I could have done with the waterjet saw). Because, one, I had to look down to see what he was talking about (it was just water) but more importantly, two, our garnet supply was dwindling and he had none of it on his truck.

Everything is different in delivery-guy-land today. “Ah, the weather is wonderful!” “Yes it is!”

For I noticed a bundle of garnet he had flung on his back. This soon gave me to know, I had nothing to dread. The nuts and bolts are nestled all snug in their places. The solenoid valves are all lively and quick. Not a problem is stirring. Not even an endmill bit. We speak not a word but go straight to our work and are filling your stockings with the best shoes on Earth.

A Happy Christmas to all, and to all, a Viva La Vida v.2!

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