By Hunter Sanborn
Janos Technology LLC. is a high-tech optics firm, dealing specifically with Infrared lenses and assemblies that are designed with extraordinary precision (down to the angstrom on each lens). This is achieved through their various DTM–Diamond Turning Machines–high quality workers, and other high-tech machinery. Janos has contracts commercially, militarily, and from their parent company: Fluke. Most of these products are designed to the specifications of their clients. In the case of the military, Janos would often be asked to create lenses for infrared night-goggles. However, custom optics are always an option at their firm as well, whether that be commercially or militarily.
Expectations vs. Reality
When Janos was first described to me, I kind of expected it to be a sort of large factory with somewhere in the realm of 150 people working inside. However, I was surprised to find that the building itself was fairly small (though very respectable and well put together) and that only about 70 people worked at Janos. This, I think, gave it more of a specialized feel; one of quality. Indeed, throughout our tour of the building, two words came to mind often: flexibility and quality
Janos is filled with the latest in high-tech CNC–Computer Numerical Control–& DMT machines, but still has a relic from the past which they claim is just as effective as it’s always been. An old lens crafting machine that requires manual use and an experienced hand (the name of this machine escapes me). Optical Technicians work with hands on lens polishing and cutting equipment that requires a delicate hand and years of experience. In fact, Janos only employs two thirty year veterans of the machines, as they’re the only ones who have the experience and knowledge to operate the machines. When I asked our tour guide whether he thought that these types of machines and workers would be something that Janos, and firms like it, would like to keep around, he responded by saying, “yes.” He continued, “The kind of work these technicians do is very useful for the company, especially when we need to do custom orders that aren’t programmed in the machines. They allow us to be more flexible in our designs.” Now I’m paraphrasing a bit, but this is the spirit of what was said. I also asked if he thought many other firms like Janos would use the same older tech and he said, again, “yes” for essentially the same reason Janos would want to keep them: flexibility of design.
Despite the high-tech nature of the firm, its seems many of Janos’ employees have no more than their high-school diploma. It was very surprising when our guide informed us that most of the work done at Janos was learned on the job. I was pretty blown away; how could such precision crafting be done without some background in engineering or computer science? The answer is surprisingly uncomplicated: the operators themselves, well, operate the machines. They don’t do the high-level programming and designing of the software, they’re the inputters of said designs and programs (at least that is my understanding of it). The old machines mentioned in the previous blocks are entirely unrelated to computers and are operated exclusively by human beings. The fact that those machines are operated exclusively by thirty years veterans should speak for itself.
Janos is an impressive gem of a firm here in Keene. In an era where manufacturing has declined significantly, Janos stands firm and successful. The Connecticut River Valley is, I’m sure, proud to have such an impressive and high quality manufacturer carry on the legacy of industries past.