Japan Inc. & High Precision Machining

I have never been to Japan, but I really want to visit Japan. In October 1938, my grandfather, Harry Livingston, arrived at Ellis Island under difficult circumstances. He left his homeland, Germany, at a time of incredible tragedy, wrought by man. Over the past week, Japan has gone through tragic suffering because of a natural disaster. My grandfather went on to found Horst Engineering in 1946, just after World War II. Japan was at the advent of restructuring and was just beginning its great transformation.

65 years ago, Germany and Japan were the United States’ two biggest enemies. Today, those two countries are two of our biggest allies. The industrial might of the three is massive. The U.S. leads the world in GDP, Japan is 3rd, and Germany is 4th. The rapid industrialization of the three countries contributed to the escalation of World War II and also aided the recovery of all three, particularly Japan and Germany, which experienced catastrophic destruction on their own soil.

So, I have never been to Japan, but I work with Japanese products every day, and am thankful for it. When thinking about Japanese products, most people consider cars and cameras. At one time, Japan was dominant in all electronics, but China, the world’s second largest economy has long since leapfrogged Japan, at least in terms of the manufacturing of those products. The U.S. and Japan still design some of the world’s best gadgets. At Horst Engineering, and throughout the precision machining industry, our business is fueled by Japanese technology. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to make the precision parts that we do.

Japanese brands surround me at our factories in Connecticut and Mexico. We have Citizen-Cincom Swiss screw machines with Mitsubishi drives and controls. We have U.S. built Hardinge lathes, but with Fanuc drives and controls. We have Wasino lathes with Fanuc drives and controls. We have Italian built Eurotech multi-axis turning centers with Fanuc drives and controls. We have Fanuc RoboDrill vertical machining centers. We have Matsuura vertical machining centers with Yasnac drives and controls.

We even have a manual Okuma engine lathe that we purchased new in 1966 at a time when Japanese products were really frowned upon, especially in New England. My grandfather placed an order for a U.S. built Monarch engine lathe. My father says we were about to pay more than $28,000, but a salesman invited my grandfather to come look at this new Japanese product that he was selling for $6,800. He canceled the Moncarch order and bought the Okuma. Monarch, like so many other U.S. machine tool builders, survives today only in name. Okuma, on the other hand is a machine tool powerhouse and our Okuma is the only remaining engine lathe that our company owns. I don’t think we would ever part with it.

With his new U.S. centric nationalistic pride, my grandfather swore off German products and he had a strong distaste for Japanese products, but he couldn’t ignore the value in the Okuma. Since those days, we have owned many other Japanese machines, tools, and gauges. My father and uncle came to terms with their superiority and today, we prefer it. From Ikegai lathes to Mitutoyo micrometers and Olympus microscopes. The precision machining industry became high precision when CNC technology disrupted the machine tool markets in the 1970’s. Fortunately, we were early adopters. Though in the 1980’s and 1990’s, we favored Elmira, New York built Hardinge machines (with Japanese built Fanuc drives and controls), we couldn’t ignore the fact that Japanese technology had surpassed U.S. technology in performance, quality, and longevity.

The Japanese are known for high precision machine tools and instruments. At Horst Engineering, we depend on them every day. I’m hopeful that the same standard of quality that the Japanese put into their precision products will lead them to a strong recovery from this terrible earthquake and tsunami tragedy.

1 Response to “Japan Inc. & High Precision Machining”

  1. 1 hereislacey 28 April 2011 at 9:38 pm

    The Japanese certainly have their machine shop and tools figured out. Their technology really is quite advanced! I also hope that it will help them in these next months/years ahead.

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Horst Engineering

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So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏 #Repost @horsteng
We just launched the #cxnats edition of #crossspikes News and it is chock full of great information. Click our profile for a link to the newsletter and info regarding @renocxnats pre-orders and on-site sales. See you at the Race Expo! #crossisboss 🚴🏽🏆

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