Q&A With Jon Polliard, EulessAero, on his recent trip to Nagoya, Japan to tour the MAZAK Machine Manufacturing Center.

“Our new MAZAK cell will be even more productive than first envisioned…”

A beautiful tea house, surrounded by manicured gardens, in Nagoya, Japan where Jon Polliard attended a traditional tea ceremony.

Recently, EulessAero Manufacturing Engineer Jon Polliard went to Japan to visit the MAZAK plant. While there, he was able to assess the production of the new cell arriving in December. We sat down to do a Q&A with Jon about the trip. The MIMTA (MAZAK International Machine Tool Association) Japan Tour included about 80 invitees from all over the world.

Welcome back Jon, how was your trip?

DFW to Detroit to Nagoya, Japan. Long flights.

Our trip was very informative and each day was packed with places to visit and things to experience. During our week there, we had the opportunity to visit 5 of their factories near Nagoya.

The trip was very successful on several levels. First, it gave us a chance to visit the manufacturing plant where our machines were born and assembled. Second, we had a chance to meet personally with the president, board of directors and plant managers. MAZAK, since its beginnings 98 years ago, is a privately held company and family owned.

Third, we had a chance to see machines similar (but bigger) to ours building MAZAK machines of all sizes. We watched MAZAK using their automation systems in the same manner that we hope to (do ourselves) in the near future. Finally, it was impressive to see a company that started so small and has become a world leader in their industry with a vision into the distant future.

What was the initial part of your visit like? Did you take a tour?

Yes. We were all brought together and given several presentations showing all aspects of MAZAK the company, the products, the service and support and global operations. The individual region groups were then taken to different factories to begin the tours. Our region was made up of representatives from USA, Canada, Australia and we toured together all week. Other regions included Asia, South America, Europe.

Jon Polliard poses in traditional Japanese Yukata.

Did you have any first impressions that you remember upon arriving at MAZAK?

Process control is of paramount importance to MAZAK since all of their factories run 24/7 to support worldwide sales. My first impression was witnessing MAZAK’s commitment to their own long term future. It seems nothing is done for the near term gain but everything is for the long term benefit. Their focus is on the long term benefits for growth. Because of this, MAZAK is currently in the process of switching the function of two of their factories. (Just as impressive – both factories are still in production as the moves take place.)

Was there a demonstration? If so, what was it like?

Each factory I visited was in full production, so what better demonstration? We also saw some new product demos that allowed us to see the direction that MAZAK is headed.

Where was the location you visited? What was your focus the majority of your time there?

We visited 5 factories in the first three days: Minokamo 1, currently the largest factory, Minokamo 2 down the street, Optonics underground factory for laser machines, Seiko plant and Oguchi plant. The factories have catwalks around the buildings to allow the visitors to see manufacturing from above – and to keep us out of the way of production. Tours in the assembly areas were on the floor with the machine in the final stages of completion prior to shipment to their customers around the globe. I had a chance to see our 2 new machines in the final assembly area which was really cool.

Members of Zan-Yuu-Soh Tea House who assisted in Polliard’s tea ceremony.

Were you satisfied with what you saw? Did anything surprise you?

We were given very detailed and complete tours with great guides that have been with MAZAK for years. I think all of us were a little surprised at how slow some operations moved as we are used to having to move quickly all the time. But it starts to make sense considering that they run 24/7 and have total process control over every single operation. Slow and steady wins the race for MAZAK.

Were you able to witness any capabilities? Was there any striking memories you have from the trip?

Seeing their factory automation in action was impressive. Some new trends in machines merging machining with additive manufacturing showed new capabilities for engineers to take advantage of in the future. The last two days of the trip we got to experience Japanese culture in the form of cuisine, a tea ceremony and sightseeing at some beautiful shrines and temples.

What improvements do you foresee from MAZAK at EulessAero?

After seeing how MAZAK systems work together with non-MAZAK machine, I’m inspired to integrate more digital factory tools in our shop. I believe that our new MAZAK cell will be even more productive than first envisioned allowing us to support our customers’ needs even better.

To learn more, contact EulessAero.

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