Mach Machine: Making CNC Automation Count

It seemed like a perfectly logical move to Dan Olsen at the time. He needed a part. He couldn’t get the part. So, he decided the rational thing to do as a mechanical engineer would be to start writing code and machine the part himself.

Possessing a great zeal that rivals his curiosity, Olsen and his wife, Angela, launched Mach Machine in 2012 with the full understanding — and appreciation — that they would do things their way. They didn’t have a generation’s worth of predetermined habits about how things should be done, and, quite frankly, they didn’t want or need that in their Hudson, Massachusetts, shop. Along the way, they purchased the right Okuma CNC machines to meet the stringent demands of their customer base in the aerospace, defense, job shops, medical, and automotive industries. Smart decisions, a dedication to the craft, and an embrace of technology and automation have freed them to pursue projects and processes the way they knew they could be done.

“We broke a lot of stuff quickly,” Dan Olsen said. “We learned about speeds and feeds and everything that is important and, after a three-month exploratory phase, came out manufacturing components.”

Soon, engineering friends were sending him requests for unique parts, so he realized he needed to create a whole new business entity to support this new venture. A web presence fueled some traction and an uptick in orders, but Mach Machine was not properly equipped to sufficiently handle his growing business needs and his customers’ distinctive demands. Some upgrades would be necessary. That started with a now 23-year-old Okuma Crown lathe that’s still in the building, effectively and efficiently turning out parts.

OKUMA 29393 Mach Machine Case Study 3


Then, in 2015, as the business was expanding enough that a larger facility was needed, Olsen delved into automation and soon discovered the many benefits that come with it – namely repeatability, reduced cycle times, consistent revenue streams, and a more engaged workforce. Mach Machine’s name is a reference to both its aviation-centric work and the speed at which the team works. With the addition of automation and the growth of the business, Mach was on its way to 24-hour operations. It was a challenge at first because change is hard, but they can’t imagine going back.

“I wanted to dip my toe in, and we effectively were thrown in the deep end. We had to swim like hell, and we did,” Olsen said. “We very quickly realized the power of automation and what that could do for us. Fully integrated automation changed how we operated.”

Mach Machines with Okuma M560V

Their CNC technology now includes an array of Okuma machines: three MB-5000HII horizontal machining centers, an LB3000 EX II-MYW horizontal lathe with an Okuma Gantry Loader (OGL), a GENOS M560-V, two GENOS L300-MYW machining centers (all of which are Okuma Affordable Excellence machines), a V920EX vertical lathe, and an Okuma Crown lathe.

The reliability that comes from machines the Olsens can trust is allowing their operation to expand, again. The shop is growing into a new addition that will bring its total footprint to nearly 33,000 square feet, thanks to increased output and a confident client base that knows Mach Machine and its Okuma lineup produces dependable parts every time. Part of that success is built on the back of a support network that’s there to help provide solutions.

“We’re going to have some breathing room, people can embrace their workspace a little better, and we can expand our wings,” Angela Olsen said. “And that really reflects the quality of the workmanship here, so that’s very exciting.”

Part of that success is built on the back of a support network that’s there to help provide solutions.

“We have no interest in changing,” Dan Olsen said. “The equipment is reliable and robust. The repeatability is there. And the support is fantastic. Okuma distribution helps us be more competitive. We’re never waiting for answers.”


Never waiting for answers can also mean always looking for something new, and that includes being more productive, optimizing what you have, and finding partners who help you work smarter, not harder. That’s exactly what happened when the Mach Machine team transitioned from traditional vertical machining to automated horizontal machining and realized a cycle time reduction of 66% with the MB-5000HII and FASTEMS pairing.

“There’s always a focus on cycle time reduction,” Dan Olsen said. “It’s always ‘how do we do this quicker?'”

Faith in Okuma helps. Mach Machine started manufacturing with horizontals, and the cycle time was three-and-a-half minutes. The customer increased demand, causing Mach Machine to shift operations to two machines. Soon, 100 parts a day wasn’t sufficient, so they transferred the work into one Okuma LB3000 EX with an OGL. It increased the cycle time, but productivity increased to 250 parts per day, satisfying demand and keeping tolerances and accuracy. The challenges were clear, and the solutions brought to the table by the Okuma and distribution teams improved the daily yield, with automation playing a large role in the success.

Automation has also helped reduce customers’ logistical risks. The team at Mach Machine can adjust output based on changing demands without needing to complete a manual process involving fees, purchase orders, etc. Employees are freed up to perform more value-added tasks, and the Olsens and the entire team at Mach have become less dependent on tracking hours in the day, the make-or-break success of individual jobs, and employees’ schedules.

OKUMA 29393 Mach Machine Case Study 5


“In the beginning, automation was definitely met with some apprehension,” Dan Olsen said. “Our machinists said, ‘We won't be needed,’ and it’s been quite the contrary. The future is not a machinist standing at a machine, like an operator used to do for the phone company. They’re learning new skills and techniques. This is not something that is coming for their jobs; the role of manufacturing is changing, and we’re trying to stay on top of the most advanced technology while augmenting their employees as a key part of the new process.

The Olsens understand the value a good partner can provide and are paying what they learn forward to the next generation of machinists. They have built relationships with two local vocational schools, and Dan Olsen helped one group of students in an advanced manufacturing class at Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington, Mass., secure their first robotic assistant.

“It’s exciting to see kids get excited about the machines and manufacturing, and they ask a ton of questions about how things work,” Angela Olsen said. “We’re incorporating that into what we do, and we invite them into our facility so they can see things they don’t have in their own schools.”

Not handling parts throughout the process keeps repeatability rates high at Mach Machine. It’s also an effective marketing tool for customers who know that their exposure to supply chain risks is more limited when they have a domestic partner who can deliver parts and a reliable, solutions-oriented support network. 

“Don’t be afraid of automation; you don’t go lights out immediately,” Dan Olsen said. “You dim the lights, ease into automation, learn how things can happen, and know the parts that you’re making. It’s a significant financial commitment that you make, but if you’re committed to it and willing to work very hard, you’ll be more successful with it than without – and it helps you create an ROI. A lot of shops don’t recognize that.”

To learn more about CNC automation solutions, find the right pairing for your operations, and experience quantifiable, automation-driven successes, please visit

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