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Company insight


Precision movements with state-of-the-art equipment


With 45 years of experience in assembling watch movements, Swiss company Gilbert Petit-Jean has delivered as many as 400,000 movements per year to luxury watch brands – volumes unimaginable without the use of high-quality equipment. The collaboration between Gilbert Petit-Jean and precision tools manufacturer Lécureux began more than 30 years ago. Lécureux’s reputation owes much to the invention of the electric screwdriver for the watchmaking industry in the early 1960s. Since then, the company has expanded its range of products and offers chronometric cells, assembly and measuring machines, and linear or rotary transfer cells. The screwdriver remains a bestseller and has influenced the work of many other watchmakers.


T


he meticulous work involved in assembling a watch movement includes grasping and removing an average of 20 screws. Carried out by hand using tweezers, these operations are particularly delicate and, above all, time-consuming. The use of an electric screwdriver with a suction chuck has made it possible to significantly reduce the time required to remove and insert the screws, while at the same time improving the quality of the movement. Gilbert Petit-Jean’s director, Philippe Petit-Jean, estimates that productivity has increased fivefold thanks to this equipment. “Allowing the assemblers to do without tweezers was a major step forward. But Lécureux’s great strength is the use of automation technology, making its screwdrivers real production tools. Operations such as screwing, oiling or measuring components can now be carried out in no time.”


investments are substantial, but the price-to-volume ratio is interesting. “This equipment would not be suitable for a small series or for movements integrating single screws,” explains Petit-Jean. “However, they are perfectly adapted to our volumes and to fitting several screws of identical dimensions.” The importance of this state-of-the-art equipment becomes clearer given the company integrates up to 25,000 screws per day, depending on current orders. “The main factor is the strength of the screwing and unscrewing torque. Once correctly adjusted, Lécureux screwdrivers will perform their function over time, without any loss of precision.”


Constant evolution


Attentive to its customers’ needs and quick to find innovative solutions, the Biel-based company has never ceased to develop new products. “Lécureux has updated its


“Lécureux’s great strength is the use of automation technology, making its screwdrivers real production tools. Operations such as screwing, oiling or measuring components can now be carried out in no time.”


Well accustomed to large production volumes, Gilbert Petit-Jean has regularly invested in Lécureux products and currently has around 150 screwdrivers and 120 machines. Its large machine park contains two automation lines and will soon be accompanied by a third, which has already been ordered. These


tools based on customer feedback,” says Petit-Jean. “The new generation of tools allow better control of the force during screwing and contain better-quality drill bits. These changes greatly reduce the risk of screw damage. Efforts are also regularly made on the ergonomic level to make the equipment user-friendly.”


Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com


The use of an electric screwdriver is something that has to be learned, but it is also a skill that can be quickly adopted. Despite constant advances in technology, the search for innovation does not mean that the company needs to forget the past. While many other products quickly fall into obsolescence, Lécureux screwdrivers have the great advantage of being repairable. There is no question of needing to throw away a model that’s a few years old. “From the bit to the grip, Lécureux guarantees spare parts, regardless of the age of the screwdriver,” says Petit-Jean. “With minimal maintenance required, these products are extremely reliable, which has, of course, contributed to their manufacturers’ reputation.”


Put the customer first


At the same time, Lécureux has been able to meet its customers’ quality and delivery time requirements for decades. Quality, reliability and price are all important components, but a product would not be complete without the notion of service. “We have always had very good contact with our supplier, both with management and technicians,” Petit-Jean says. “Their reaction time is excellent and the technical support very competent. If a problem cannot be solved over the phone, a technician will be with us within 24 to 48 hours. Knowing that you are listened to and considered is really a plus.” ●


www.lecureux.ch 59


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