I just returned from two weeks at Shengzhou Stove Manufacturer in China. For eight years I’ve been working with the factory assisting with stove designs and general advice. Mr. Shen is the owner and engineer in charge of making most of the machines, setting up the tooling, creating the millions of refractory ceramic combustion chambers, etc. Mrs. Shen is the general manager and she runs the plant, does ordering of materials, payroll, and sales. I was helping Andy McClean, COO of StoveTec, to finish the Firefly TM, a natural draft TLUD lantern/cooking stove. The flame rises up in the middle of a glass cylinder providing an hour of light under the pot as the food cooks.
I always underestimate how hard it is to adjust the tooling when preparing to manufacture a stove! Many different machines are required even to make one simple part. There are more than 14 separate operations needed to stamp out, weld, and assemble the stainless steel TLUD and careful, intricate adjustment is necessary. Manufacturing is a difficult to learn skill and it’s great to watch an expert like Mr. Shen creating a new generation of beautiful, durable, and affordable clean burning stoves.