Mazak’s tools of the trade

Mazak operates from 78 tech centres in 22 countries and 10 production plants worldwide.

Federico Ercoli visited Worcester to see how Japanese giant Yamazaki Mazak innovates in the UK.

When I mentioned I was heading up to Worcester, colleagues at the office expected me to come back with boxes full of Worcestershire sauce.

I have to say, they were a bit disappointed to see me come back empty-handed but with a story of a successful Japanese company which manufactures advanced technology solutions here in the UK. Saucy enough for me, not much for all of them.

The company is Yamazaki Mazak. Founded in 1919 in Nagoya, and born as a small family business, it set its European facility and technology centre in the UK in 1987.

In almost 30 years, the company’s investments in the UK site has accounted for more than £30m and led to impressive growth figures: from 62 employees and 30 units produced per month, to 500 workers and over 100 fully operating machines manufactured every month in 2015.

Mazak is not only massive in the UK and Europe both in terms of size and reach (the Worcester site alone is about 31,500 sqm), it also has 78 tech centres in 22 countries and 10 production plants worldwide (five in Japan, one in the US, one in Singapore, one in the UK and two in China) where it manufactures multitasking, 5 axis, milling, turning, CNC controls and automation solutions.

While attending the presentation that unveiled the new technology used on Mazak’s latest CNC solution, it became clear to me that there is a relentless drive to innovate that pushes the Japanese company forward.

Not only because the product could easily be mistaken for a device seen on the cockpit of the Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon, but especially because even people that don’t possess an engineering background, much like myself, could still see the improvements this invention can bring to manufacturing applications.

In fact, Richard Smith, managing director UK & Ireland Sales Division, confirmed that Mazak’s growth and success “is being propelled by the UK’s manufacturing base adopting the latest technologies in order to maintain its competitive advantage.” It is likely then, that the people at Lea & Perrins integrate some of Mazak’s machines to manufacture the worldwide famous sauce.