Ok so there’s some homework attached to today’s post – it’s a TED talk -if you haven’t yet seen TED tv you should… FABULOUS encouraging and often humorous talks to feed the soul.  Anyway, i watched this post some time ago about a guy building a toaster from scratch.  Click on it (above). So it’s about a guy who decides he wants to build a toaster, gather the necessary components of iron, copper, mica and plastic to form his toaster.  ANYWAY… the reason i mention this is because i once thought to myself… “i wonder how i would go about building a piano from scratch”.  Think about the cast iron frame alone – let alone the grand rim, the pressure fit soundboard, the 3000+ action parts, the strings, the hammers… The piano manufacturing process is the evolution of about 200 years of tinkering and design to the point where we have it today.  Seguay.

I had the privilege of speaking with the CEO of Pearl River/Ritmuller piano company this year.  He said that they have about 1.3 MILLION… that’s capital M as in Million square feet of manufacturing space (2.8 million of land!)  Annual productions run nearly 100,000 pianos.  So… think realistically about the fact that it might take many months to produce one mediocre piano by yourself.  Pearl River is putting out – completed pianos 800 PER DAY.  800 completed, tuned, regulated, finished, polished pianos PER DAY.  Now this brings about one other point – Productivity necessitates efficiency.  Did you catch that? The more you create of one product, the more efficient the manufacturing becomes.  If i made one piano, it might take me a few years.  Two pianos… let’s just double up every stage of the manufacturing and build twos of everything.  Thirty per year, you need a small team to accomplish this.  (Approximate numbers) 450 per year – as in Bosendorfer – roughly 37 per month… that takes some thought as to efficiency.  Steinway – around 5000 pianos – 400 per month.  See where this is going? Now when you get to 90,000-100,000 pianos annually you have two options.  You hire an incredibly large work force of people with many inconsistencies or you did what Pearl River did and bring in VERY expensive machines to streamline the process.  This is where my radar perks up.  If you can maintain and supply for consistent sales at nearly 100,000 instruments annually, then by reason, should not their refinement in manufacturing tolerances also become very acute? Productivity lends itself to efficiency because you CANNOT manufacture that many pianos without being consistent time and again.  Before you have the audacity to wipe off a brand of pianos without thinking through what it is they accomplish in a year, better make sure you know that of which you speak.  At 100,000 pianos a year, 800 per day, they’ve hired some of the best in designers in the world (Lothar Thomma).  At a staff of nearly 4000 employees, this piano company will soon be (if not already) one of the largest forces in piano manufacturing the world has ever known.  If that were not enough, Pearl River/Ritmuller is one of (i believe) only 2 piano companies in China to receive the highly accredited ISO (International Organization for Standardization) stamp of approval.  Check out the promo video below… now THAT’S impressive!