Yamazaki Mazak UK – Advanced Manufacturing for Future Needs
Yamazaki Mazak, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of CNC machine tools, is set to drive growth through innovation.
Boosted by recent extensive investment, the company’s European Manufacturing Plant in Worcester is at the heart of a new generation of compact, state-of-the-art machining centres set to irreversibly shake up the machine tool market.
“With 10 production plants across the world, as well as 77 technology centres in 21 countries, Yamazaki Mazak has a truly global footprint. The company offers over 200 CNC machine tools, ranging from Multi-Tasking, 5-axis, milling, and turning centres; to laser sheet metal-cutting machines, CNC controls and flexible manufacturing systems. Commonly referred to as “mother machines”, machine tools are used by manufacturers to make a wide variety of components across a range of industries, including the aerospace, automotive, energy, medical, transportation, general machinery and consumer electronics sectors.
However, Mazak does not limit itself to the supply of standalone machines, and has a burgeoning business building and supplying turnkey automated cells, with several different machines and ancillary automation systems all seamlessly connected.
“The company turned 100 last year and continues to be a family-owned business. This is a unique and key part of our success, along with having a very focused and long-term vision of investing in products and technologies as well as in people,” says Alan Mucklow, Managing Director UK & Ireland Sales and Service Division for Yamazaki Mazak UK.
“Part of what helps us stand out as a business is the global positioning of our factories and technology centres. This enables us to develop very close working relationships with our customer base, which in turn helps us to both understand the demands of their respective markets and react in terms of product development.”
Advanced European base
Mazak’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Worcester is the company’s only production site on the continent. It produces more than 1,000 machine tools every year, of which 80-85% are exported to mainland Europe. The plant, which employs over 800 people, also houses the European Technology Centre and gives customers direct access to support from a large, expert team of applications engineers.
Mr Mucklow affirmed that Mazak’s UK business has gone from strength to strength in recent years. “Our advantage is that we are extremely vertically integrated. We don’t just assemble – our competencies include design, development, manufacturing and sub-assembly, as well as final assembly. That makes us unique in a sense, as we have complete control of our innovation and production.”
“The fact that we have our own R&D facility in Worcester is an important factor. For example, the VTC-800 series was designed here in 2008, of which 1,200 units have been sold across Europe. More recently, we designed, manufactured and launched a new 5-axis machine – the CV5-500 – which, again, is a fully UK-made machine, from conception to delivery.”
The CV5-500 was one of a number of new Mazak machine tools unveiled at EMO 2019 in Hannover. Designed to deliver high-speed, high-accuracy machining, the CV5-500 defines a new standard for 5-axis machining and offers exceptional value to both seasoned users of the technology and those taking their first steps with it. Other standout highlights at EMO included the two new machines from the INTEGREX i-H series, the latest generation of Mazak’s flagship Multi-Tasking machine range. The company also recorded strong interest in its new SmoothAi artificial intelligence CNC and the QUICK TURN 250MSY turning centre, which is supported by an innovative RoboJob Tower automation system.
Investing in growth
Last year, Yamazaki Mazak made a series of major investments at its UK-based European manufacturing plant in Worcester. These included two new state-of-the-art manufacturing cells, which make component parts for new Mazak machines produced on site. In addition, the case paint area has been moved to increase assembly space on the factory floor, while an extension has also been added to the factory, creating more floor space for building new machines.
The investment reflects strong results for machine orders in the UK and Ireland in 2019. Growth has been achieved across all sectors and machine classes, with particularly positive performances in general subcontracting, aerospace and the oil and gas sector. The laser division also had a strong order book that has led to a continued increase in market share.
Last year saw a robust performance from Mazak’s 5-axis machines, specifically the VARIAXIS Series and the INTEGREX i-Series. The company also reported robust growth in the HCN Series of horizontal machining centres, particularly in the oil and gas sector and the UK-built QT machines.
“Demand varies across different territories and sectors, but there is certainly more growth towards a combination of capabilities, such as with the Multi-Tasking machines and 5-axis machines. In terms of general market trends, automation is a key driver across all markets we serve and ease of integration with automation systems has played a significant role in the R&D process for our most recent product launches.”
He pointed out that as part of investing in the next generation of engineering talent, Mazak runs a strong apprenticeship programme which has produced several winners of regional and national awards. The company currently employs several dozen apprentices and has trained in excess of 200 in recent years across a range of different disciplines, including CNC machining, electrical, mechanical, sheet metal and fabrication. Over one-third of Mazak’s current employees began their careers as an apprentice, including Mr Mucklow.
“Our continued investment aims to improve our market share not only in the UK but globally. Our strategy will focus on penetrating new markets and new sectors with new products, particularly with the CV5-500 5-axis machining centre, which has been designed and built specifically for the continent’s machine users. This should open a new customer base for us.”
With its expanded capacity and increasing order book, the company is ready to face the future, confirms Mr Mucklow. “The manufacturing sector is acknowledging the need to invest in the latest technology to maintain a competitive position in Europe and beyond. We have positioned ourselves to make sure we can really maximise opportunities across all industries and react to the changes happening within them.”