Mazak to Start Exporting U.S.-Built Machines

Sept. 22, 2011
Kentucky plant producing turning centers, MT machines for Asian, South American, and European shipment

Mazak Corp. is exporting several machines designed and built at its complex in Florence, Ky., to buyers in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, and to South America, and soon it will be delivering models to European customers, too. The Japan-based machine tool builder is continuing a multi-year expansion and improvement program at the Kentucky operation, and it said the decision to export from Kentucky is “a natural progression” of its growth strategy in North America.

Yamazaki Mazak Corp. has eight factories around the world, including four in Japan. It manufactures in the U.K. and China, as well as the U.S., but company officials have stated that the corporate goal is for each center to be independently competitive.

Regional manufacturing centers are increasingly important to machine tool builders. Along with logistical competency, currency exchange rates are an important factor for manufacturers striving to supply local demand with global production standards. Mazak’s North American manufacturing plant uses a “production-on-demand approach” that focuses on modular assembly to reduce inventory and streamline production. It states this allows it to introduce products quickly.

Mazak Corp. has been manufacturing machine tools in North America since 1974, and has carried out 15 expansion projects over more than 30 years. The 600,000-ft2 plant manufactures 28 series of machines and more than 100 models, including vertical 3-, 4- and 5-axis machining centers, turning centers and multi-tasking machines.

“Exporting Kentucky-designed and built machines reaffirms the fact that the United States remains a very competitive manufacturing environment for advanced technology products,” stated Mazak Corp. president Brian Papke. “In fact, we see the exporting of Kentucky-built machines as a catalyst that lays the groundwork for future expansion of our North American manufacturing operations.”

Earlier this year Mazak expanded the production volume at the U.S. plant to 130 units/month, and said it expected to be producing 150 machines/month by the start of 2012.

Since 2009, Mazak has invested $13 million to add manufacturing space and capabilities in Kentucky, and investments will continue there with the installation of an additional 5-axis 10-meter double-column Mazak Versatech machining center for large part production; and three Mazak Optonics OptiPlex 3015 laser-fabrication centers to improve sheet metal processing.

“The fundamentals of our North American manufacturing sector are solid,” Papke continued. “To ensure its continued strength and viability as the global economic climate changes, the U.S. together with industry leaders must support investment in new technology that accelerates productivity, as well as improving workforce education and training. But, if done correctly, there are significant opportunities for manufacturing in North America.”

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