Seeing the Possibilities
Annette Carroll 06.07.2017
I recently traveled to Japan, along with 70 of our distributors and Okuma leadership members, for the Okuma Machine Fair event held at our company headquarters in Oguchi. It was a whirlwind trip with many highlights and lots to learn, but we unanimously agreed that that the ultimate wow factor occurred during the tour of our new factory, Dream Site 2 (DS2). This state-of-the-art “smart factory” is where we’re producing the many parts that go into our machine tools (primarily lathe and multitasking machines).
Bringing the Brand to Life
While I joined Okuma fairly recently, I’ve spent my entire career as a marketing professional (20+ years to date) working for manufacturing companies. My experience has afforded me many plant tours, and they’re always exciting. But when I stepped inside the DS2, I immediately realized that this was a dramatically unique experience. There were several automated cells running, so the technology itself was impressive. On top of that, the Okuma brand was clearly represented in a visually cohesive manner. There was a blue and white paint scheme throughout, and up above, emblazoned across the top of the crane was our corporate slogan, “Open Possibilities.” The blue in the Okuma logo represents many things, among them trust, security, order and productivity. Combine this meaning with the next-level manufacturing we saw all around us and it was clear: this is advanced manufacturing. DS2 brings the Okuma brand to life.
Industry-Leading Smart Factory
DS2 operates in tandem with the DS1 located right next door. As a parts factory, DS2 manufactures medium-size parts including flanges, manifolds, headstock, tailstock and turrets. Precision parts such as main spindles, tailstock spindles and flanges are machined in a temperature-controlled room. There is also a FMS (flexible manufacturing system) that utilizes 3 MCR-BIII double-column machining centers for highly-efficient production of beds and saddles.
DS2 is a smart factory that utilizes the latest IT and new production control system features:
- Comprehensive control of machining, assembly and distribution
- Flexibility to adapt to sudden changes (scheduled vs. actual production orders)
- Large monitors and tablets are used by workers to monitor data such as equipment utilization and work-in-progress
Energy Costs Reduced by 30%
These “factories of the future” also employ energy-saving technologies that are delivering significant reductions in energy costs. DS1 has 500 solar panels on its walls and 3,800 solar panels on its roof. These panels generate roughly 1,040 kW, which is equivalent to the energy consumed by 260 ordinary homes. DS2 uses thermal energy for high-efficiency heating and cooling in the plant. Energy efficiency is also promoted with the use of solar panels with high insulation properties on exterior walls, LED lighting, air compressor invertor controls, electric heat pumps and other equipment. So far this has reduced energy costs by 30% compared with previous levels.
DS2 made quite an impression on all of us. Seeing the automated cells surrounded by all of the other advanced technologies gave us a vision of the possibilities ahead for all of us in manufacturing.
Annette Carroll is Director of Marketing, Okuma America Corporation.