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Interviews with the experts- National Zipper Day Series
There are three major parts of a zipper: (1) the elements, which mesh with each other, (2) the slider, which is the part you operate with your hand and (3) the tape, which is made of cloth. Here at YKK, we make sure that each component is produced to meet the highest standards of quality. Lee Chancey, textile section manager, has been working at YKK for 20 years. Lee and his team work collaboratively to ensure product quality and to promote a safe work environment.
There are many steps involved in making a zipper, starting with making our own brass. Shannon Kearney, the brass wire plant’s operations manager shares that the brass wire plant is a global supplier of brass flatwire and profiled wire.
The brass wire plant supports YKK’s brass zipper manufacturing world-wide. We asked Shannon to give an example of innovation at work, and this is what he had to share, “We at the brass wire plant have the highest quality machines as related to the wire industry. We continuously strive to incorporate new and innovative machines and processes. For example, we pursue automation, such as robots and automatic spool change systems that are incorporated with our high capacity wire forming machines designed and made by YKK Japan. More recently, for our melting process, we’ve installed an auto-loading system that utilizes one of the largest robots available. This system was designed through a joint effort of our team at the brass wire plant, and a local automation integrator.”
Many slider parts are die cast, meaning they’re made by pouring molten metal into a mold. Due to the level of precision required in this process, the molds can’t be off by even 1/100th of a millimeter. Doug McKenzie is the section manager in charge of the slider assembly (both brass and zinc die cast). A typical workday for him starts with “scheduling production for the assembly department which includes a total of 58 machines producing an average of 35,000 sliders per machine.” Doug shares that one of the many examples of innovation in his department is the capability to produce custom parts for our customers.