Our trip to Japan has been fantastic. One of the highlights (and reasons for being here), was the Okuma Corporation visit last week. The day after visiting one of our key customers in Amagasaki near Osaka, I was fortunate to tour Okuma’s Kani and Oguchi plant sites near Nagoya. Each site has multiple buildings.
Horst Engineering has three Okuma lathes. Interestingly, our LS model is one of the oldest machines that still runs at our East Hartford plant. The two LT2000 EX models are the two newest, and one of our largest capital equipment investments to date. We featured a news item about these machines at the end of last year.
I’ve been fortunate to take some amazing plant tours during a lifetime spent as part of a manufacturing family, but the Okuma tour is legitimately near the top of my all-time list. I’m sure just about any tour I take at a Japanese industrial company would wow me.
Interestingly, unfounded manufacturing prejudices in the 1980’s that were inherited from my grandfather, prevented us from embracing Japanese machine tool technology until the 1990’s when we bought a Matsuura machining center. The technology wowed us. We did most of our milling on Bridgeports and had a German Deckel machine, but it required manual tool changes.
Fast forward to now and we have more than 100 CNC machines that were built in Japan or have controls that were built in Japan. After years of benchmarking the Japanese approach to lean enterprise that is espoused by the Toyota Production System, it was wonderful to tour a plant where lean is woven into the fabric of the culture.
Okuma has developed an amazing amount of automation at both its Kani and Oguchi plant sites. Oguchi is their Dream Site 1 (DS1) facility. DS1 has more than 500 wall mounted solar panels and 3,800 roof mounted solar panels. The solar and other sustainable building features are an amazing display of green technology in a manufacturing environment and consistent with Horst Engineering’s own solar and green investments.
Okuma headquarters is also the site of the Okuma Memorial Gallery and the Global CS (Customer Service) Center. The museum is an awesome display of their history in the machine tool business, starting with their first noodle making machine. The CS is a show room that has nearly every modern machine in their portfolio. I’ve been to IMTS on many occasions, but seeing one manufacturer’s full catalog in one room was wonderful. My only regret is that it was too short of a visit and I would have liked to spend more time there. I’m really appreciate of the team at Morris Group, Inc. and the folks at Okuma Corporation, for making this visit possible.