Mazak Corp. has gone back to the future once again-in search of the Super Digital Machine. If developing one sounds ambitious, it is today and was in 1999 when parent company Yamazaki Mazak first proposed achieving such a device for its 100th anniversary year.
"Rather than wait for IMTS 2002, we decided to give our customers a glimpse as we move toward the Super Digital Machine that we established as the goal for the year 2019," explains Tomohisa (Tom) Yamazaki, recently appointed president and COO of Yamazaki Mazak. His more immediate goal is to respond rapidly to meet the changing needs of Mazak's customers.
In North America, Yamazaki Mazak has invested in technology centers with industry specific themes for aerospace in Los Angeles and energy service in Houston, as well as regional centers like the new $5 million Southeast Technology Center in Atlanta and the $2.5 million Mexico Technology Center in Monterrey.
The company is aggressively converting all of Mazak's manufacturing facilities into "Cyber Factories." The digital lynchpin of these Cyber Factories--Mazak's "e-Tower" multimedia communications device--was a centerpiece of the three Integrex e-series of machines introduced in 2001 at "Touch the Future" (TTF), a Mazak special event.
More than 2,500 customers and prospects turned out to visit Mazak's Florence, KY, HQ and manufacturing facility this past November to see the new machines and the Cyber Factory--despite uncertain economic and international conditions.
Multi-tasking is hot
According to Mazak president Brian Papke: "Metalcutting machines, such as those combining multiple processes or multi-tasking systems, have allowed manufacturers to produce products with improved throughput and better spindle utilization with less setup costs and to higher levels of quality than ever before."
A champion of aggressive investment during economic downturns (see T&P, August 2001, p. 59), Papke believes: "The economy will improve, but it does not mean existing companies will automatically get more business. The work will flow to those companies that make the investment in new equipment."
With the $20 million investment in its Florence facility, Mazak has positioned itself for that economic turnaround. Its Florence facility can now produce a total of 29 different machine models from four different product lines at the rate of 160 machines a month. During Phase Two, six machining centers were replaced with one 52-pallet Mazak Palletech cell...