Machine tool controller ‘ups productivity by 20%’

From Paul Carslake in Nagoya, Japan

Japanese machine tool company Yamazaki Mazak is to introduce a new generation machine tool controller which it claims will boost machine productivity by at least 20%.

The new system, Mazatrol Fusion 640, brings together a package of software functions under Microsoft Windows to allow complex machine tool data to be networked.

New machines will be sold with Fusion 640 at no extra cost, Mazak officials confirmed in Nagoya this week.

Productivity gains will arise from faster data processing and programming times, and could rise to more than 50% for certain complex operations.

The new controller will also allow remote diagnostics for maintenance and troubleshooting via the internet, as well as remote monitoring of operations on the worldwide web.

In many small companies, when the boss goes home, productivity drops. Using this system, the manager of a small job shop could monitor the late shift from home, said executive vice-president Tony Yamazaki.

Yamazaki expects Fusion to boost sales and market share this coming year, after a relatively static year which has seen overseas sales growth offset by a fall in Japanese domestic sales.

Industry experts note that some of the Fusion 640 functions are already available in a more sophisticated form, though at a higher price.

Mazak had sales last year valued at £740m and claimed an estimated 13% share of the global market for CNC machines.

Teruyuki Yamazaki, head of Japanese machine tool manufacturer Mazak, warned this week that the strong pound was hitting competitiveness at the company’s UK plant.

‘The strong pound is causing us concern, and this might cause some problems for our UK manufacturing capacity,’ said the Yamazaki Mazak Corporation chairman.

Production at Mazak’s Worcester plant, which employs 400 people, was expanded by 50% two years ago to 130 units per month. Yamazaki said there were no plans for further expansion of UK capacity.