“A Lifelong Love for Things Mechanical”
Designer Hitoshi Ono says he's loved machines since birth, a perfect fit for the System Design Group, which designs custom products. His main responsibility there is electric hoists.
He says: "Basically, a single designer takes charge of the design drawing for a given custom order, beginning to end. Sometimes I've received orders for specs I've never seen before. On such occasions I draw up and redraw up a plan, looking at past examples and following advice from more experienced designers."
He's been a designer for only three years. During his first five years at Kito he worked in the heat-treatment process, followed by three years on the assembly line for custom electric hoists. "As I built assembly experience on the production floor, I started thinking about creating more efficient designs from the producer standpoint on my own," he says.
"There are several important checkpoints in product design. I particularly think about smooth work flow on the floor. I decide on a product structure by visualizing all the processes involved, working to reduce assembly lead time and processing costs. In this my experience with product assembly and part processing is a big help. I ask myself how I might be able to increase customer satisfaction in the limited time ahead of deadline. I want to create designs offering easier operation and maintenance, with at least the same performance. To make better products, even by small margins, I'm particular about the many tiny details."
He's been working on motorcycles since high school, and loves machines of all kinds. A particular interest of late is cameras.
"Any machine sparks my interest. It's always exciting to learn its structure, tune and operate it. I was born into a family in the machine parts-processing business, and I grew up hearing constant mechanical sounds and smelling grease. Since I was little it's been big fun to look at something built based on a plan on a sheet of paper. I got a manufacturing job perhaps in part due to the influence of my craftsman father," he says.
"Custom designs can't help being more expensive, so I have to offer added value that's worth the price. I always think beyond satisfying the customer's specific needs, which is a given. I ask myself how much more and better we can do, and what kind of product would be best? The answers don't come easy, but I keep asking!"