“Unisign appreciates that welding is a craft”
My Unisign story: This time we are joined by Jordy Weijers, who hails from Panningen and was put to quite a test during his internship as a welder. But he passed the ‘test’, was offered a contract and has been with Unisign for 5 years now.
The groundwork for each of our CNC machines is done in our welding shop. Here, Jordy and two colleagues carry out all the welding that is needed to create the machine frames. Jordy: ‘I relish the challenge and variety I get from my work. Each CNC machine has a different machine frame. There is no standard procedure; everything is crafted by hand.’
When Jordy was looking for an internship for his technical education at Mosa RT, a lecturer pointed him to Unisign. A business right in his hometown. Jordy: ‘I didn’t really know what Unisign was about. I had driven past on occasion but had no idea what they made. They threw me in at the deep end in the very first week of my internship. A colleague told me to build a lifting frame. I had to measure an existing frame, create a drawing and use the metal waste that was kept outside. That was how I got started. I finished the frame a week later and showed them what I was capable of. I was then allowed to help weld machine frames. I liked it a lot.’
Jordy remembers how impressive he found the size of the machine frames during his internship: ‘I had never come across welds that thick. We use 1.6 mm welding wire and 300 amps. This is a thicker wire and a higher current than most places typically use. We need a wire that size, though, because there is a considerable number of forces acting on a CNC machine.’
Jordy explains that creating thick welds is much harder than thinner ones: ‘Thick materials mean you need to take your time. If you work too fast, the weld will be too thin and a component might break away under excessive force. So the weld must be thick enough, but I also feel it should look neat. Unisign sets a high standard but I automatically set myself a tough target anyway. It’s like I’m in competition with myself to produce the best weld I can. The longest continuous weld I have created here so far measured around 6 metres. This is done in one fluid movement that takes approximately 30 minutes. That’s a brilliant challenge for a welder.’
Before the summer holidays, Jordy was asked to weld the machine frames for the first two Unimast machines. One of these was on display during the Open Day in June, with Jordy alongside. Jordy: ‘I had never created that type of frame before, so this was an amazing project. There is no previous experience you can rely on. You want to make the right impression on the Open Day, so it all has to look super good. I’m happy I managed to pull that off.’
The year 2018
Jordy joined the company 2018. On the international scene, 2018 was marked by attempts at reconciliation between North and South Korea, and a trade war between the United States and China. This was also the first full year for the third cabinet led by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Its acts of government included the decision to shut down the Groningen gas field on 1 October 2023. The summer of 2018 was long, dry and the hottest on record in over 300 years. Femke Halsema was installed as mayor of Amsterdam and in the UK, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot.
Jordy thinks the atmosphere and workplace culture at Unisign are great. ‘I love what I do and work alongside nice colleagues. My co-workers Carlie and Richard and I make a great team. We love to have some fun every so often. We take our work seriously but it is also important to have a laugh now and again.
At break time, we always sat in our own canteen in the hall where we worked. Which was actually just outside the Unisign grounds. But since the beginning of October, we have a new workplace. The whole welding department has moved to the renovated ‘blue’ hall, which is also closer to the other departments and colleagues.”
Workouts and mopeds
When he’s not at work, Jordy can often be found in the gym. He works out 4 or 5 times a week to keep super fit. Jordy is not sure whether he wants to be a welder for the rest of his working life. ‘This job is pretty physically demanding at times. Occasionally we need to crawl through a machine frame to weld something from the inside. That becomes harder with age. I’m in awe of my colleague who still manages this at the age of 64.’
Jordy continues: ‘Assembling our CNC machines looks pretty interesting too. I have always enjoyed building things. I love working on cars and mopeds in my spare time, and have two classic Puchs. The first is one I fully restored and regularly use to come into work. I’m waiting to rebuild the second one from scratch, bolt by bolt.’
October 17, 2023