Machine-tool scorecard packs a surprise

Although the companies in this year's top 15 are fairly familiar, the order in which they appear might be a surprise.

Although the companies in this year's top 15 are fairly familiar, the order in which they appear might be a surprise.

The machine-tool scorecard ranking the 1997 performance of the world's top machine-tool companies is out, and the big surprise is who is not first: Thyssen Production Systems. Although Thyssen is clearly the largest producer now, it didn't rate that position on the 1997 list because it didn't include Giddings & Lewis.

The acquisition, agreed to much earlier, actually took place on the last day of the Thyssen's '97 fiscal year, which meant that it was included in the balance sheet but not the income statement. And Giddings & Lewis was no longer issuing financial reports, so its production tended to fall off the 1997 radar screen. Even without the inclusion of G&L, Thyssen moved up from 13th place to 4th because of the purchase of Witzig & Frank and the improvement at Hüller Hille.

The ranking of machine-tool companies is by size from The Blue Bulletin, now in its 33rd year of serving as a scorecard for ranking machine-tool companies, in the U.S. and, now globally. This year the Bulletin covers 206 companies from 11 countries: 72 are German, 52 are Italian, 40 Japanese, 25 are American, 6 are British, 4 are Swiss, 2 are French, 2 are Spanish, and there is one each from Belgium, Brazil, and Canada.

Although the list has acquired a kind of official status, all it does is provide details on the 206 largest companies on which data could be obtained. Some companies refuse to supply information, some fail to respond to repeated requests, and some that should be invited are overlooked.

Companies are ranked by their worldwide sales of machine tools and related equipment. Companies produce numerical controls but not machine tools are excluded.. The Bulletin, which I started and have prepared from the start, is now distributed by AMT (Association for Manufacturing Technology). Copies can be ordered by phoning AMT's statistical department at 703-827-5256.

Here are some details on the top 15 companies:

Yamazaki Mazak (Japan) kept a firm grip on the lead with machine-tool sales of $1.253 billion, of which about $575 million were U.S. sales increased 20% in yen, 16.4% when measured in dollars. In addition to plants in Japan and the U.S., Mazak has plants in Britain and Singapore. Amada (Japan) was again in second place with sales of 214 billion, though not that high in production. Amada is primarily an engineering and marketing firm and much of its product is manufactured by partially owned subsidiaries or by independent producers. It has plants in Japan, France, Austria, and the U.S.

Third place goes to Fanuc (Japan) with sales of $1.007 billion in CNC systems, servomotors, EDM machines, and other machine tools. The bulk of Fanuc's business is CNC systems, of which it is the top producer. Fujitsu owns 38.9% of Fanuc. There are plants in Japan, U.S., Europe, and China. There are joint ventures with GE on factory automation, Kolon International, and Hwacheon Machinery in Korea.

Thyssen Production Systems (Germany) ranked 4th with sales of $992 million. If Giddings & Lewis' sales of about $700 million had been included, Thyssen would have ranked first with over $1.6 billion.

Okuma Machinery Works (Japan) was 5th with sales of $874 million, an increase of 23% in yen. Its U.S. plant produced 1,490 machines (up from 1,144) and had sales of $337 million. An adjacent plant purchased in, '96, has started to produce machining centers, and is scheduled to eventually produce 70 a month.

Fuji Machine Manufacturing (Japan) is a leader in automatic assembly machines for electronics. Total sales were $815 million last year, ranking the company 6th, up from 9th. That included sales of CNC lathes of $130 million.

Unova (U.S.) ranked 7th. Spun off from Western Atlas, Unova includes Lamb Technicon, Gardner disc grinders and abrasives, Landis grinding machines (including Landis Lund in England), Cran-field Precision Engineering (Eng-land), and 49% of Honsberg (Ger-many). Sales of these operations were $790 million. In addition, another division produces automated data systems for processing bar codes. The Gardner operations have been moved into the Landis plant. Last year the company acquired the remaining 51% of Honsberg, Goldcrown Machinery (U.S.), a manufacturer of centerless grinders, along with stamping, engineering and prototyping division of Modern Prototype Co. (U.S.)

Trumpf (Ger-many) is 8th (up from 14th) with sales of $778 million, $130 million of which were in the U.S.

Mori Seiki (Japan) ranked 9th, up from 11th, with sales of $741 million. Manuis concentrated in highly automated plants in Japan. factur-ing

Toyoda Machine Works (Japan) with machine sales of $651 million is 10th, up from 15th. Sales increased 15% in yen. Toyota Motors owns 22.6% of the company and 60% of total production ($1.6 billion) is in auto parts.

Schuler Group (Germany) is 11th, up from 14th, with sales of $553 million. Originally a mechanical-press builder, Schuler acquired hydraulic-press builder SMG, mechanical-press builder Theodor Gräbener, and producer of handling equipment GMG. Last year Schuler purchased a 22% interest in Müller Weingarten as part of a rescue of that press builder.

The Gildemeister Group (Germany), recovering from the Deckel-Maho bankruptcy, pulled up to 12th from 16th. Total sales were $500 million but it is not clear how much of that was machine tools.Following the failure of Deckel Maho, Gildemeister took over the Deckel and Maho plants and formed DMG as a marketing firm to sell for the producing companies. Gildemeister also has a 50% interest in TBT Tiefbohrtechnik (Germany) and less than 20% of Heidenreich & Harbeck.

The second U.S. company on the list is Ingersoll Milling Machine in 13th place, up from 17th. Sales of custom machining systems from plants in the U.S. and Germany totaled of $496 million, while sales cutter brought the total to $611 million. The German plants include Waldrich Coberg, Waldrich Siegen, and Bohle. Total machine-tool shipments were again at an all-time high for Ingersoll.

The 14th company, down from 10th, is Agie Charmilles Holding a producer of EDM machines. It is a division of George Fischer (Swiss). Agie acquired Charmilles on October 1, 1996, and the 96 figures are based on the separate sales of the two companies for that year. In 97 sales of machines totaled $469 million with parts and service adding another $157 million.

Makino Milling Machine is in 15th place, up from 20th, with sales of $469 million, an increase of 33% in yen. Makino's U.S. plant (the former LeBlond plant) had sales of more than $85 million.

After the top 15, the next U.S. companies on the list are Cincinnati Milacron (16th), Haas Automation (22nd), Gleason (34th), and Bridgeport Machines (38th).

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