Interview The factory of the future starts production on the US west coast
In Davis, California, Mori Seiki has opened a new machine tool plant that sets a benchmark within DMG/Mori Seiki for the automation of large-part machining. At the opening, CEO Masahiko Mori spoke exclusively to ETMM about the challenges of producing in California.
ETMM: What is the current production rate and what is planned?
Mori: We plan to get up to one hundred machines per month, but that will take two years. Right now we are making ten machines per month. By April we plan to increase this to twenty machines. And later this year we will start to make DMG’s 5-axis DMU machines and, by the end of the year, the Ecoline machines, which are very popular in the US. Also, within the 200.000 square feet of factory space, we have room to assemble and test turnkey projects, for which we have many requests from the automotive and aircraft sectors.
ETMM: What is the advantage of a production line for machine tools? Why didn’t you implement a cell-production system like in your other facilities?
Mori: Especially here in California, there is huge competition for skilled workers. Line production helps us to offset the effects of personnel fluctuations while still maintaining high quality. Workers need only to be trained in one or two of the required manufacturing steps. But also in Japan, in our Chiba plant, we have implemented a production line for the Milltap machines.
ETMM: How are you training personnel in this factory?
Mori: We are recruiting from the various industries and also directly from vocational schools and from high schools. It is also important in the US to be able to offer jobs to ex-military personnel returning from service overseas. We try to implement training concepts similar to how we operate in Japan and Germany.
ETMM: You have said local sourcing is important, with 54% of components already coming from the US. What is your target for local sourcing?
Mori: Seventy percent. There will always be some key components that we have to import from Japan and Germany, but we can certainly source most of our components in the US.
ETMM: You have also said your goal is to have one-third of your sales and your procurement each in specific major currencies, namely dollars, yen and euro. By when do you expect this to happen?
Mori: This process will take at least five years, but together with DMG, it will be possible. DMG is spending too much money in Europe. We are spending too much money in Japan. So, both of us are working hard to spend some more money in dollars.
ETMM: You also plan to have a factory in Tianjin, China, running next year. Will it also be organized like this factory in Davis?
Mori: No. In Tianjin we will have less automation than here in Davis. But the Tianjin plant is for large part machining, quite like the new line here. However, the Tianjin factory is intended primarily for the rough machining of casting components that we source in China. These castings can then be transferred to our other facilities within and outside of China.