Cincom’s Expert Access Radio recently interviewed Brian J. Papke, President of the Mazak Corporation, a manufacturer of machine tools and systems for the precision machining of metal parts, to discuss Mazak’s steps forward in the manufacturing industry and to set the record straight on the state of U.S. manufacturing.
During the interview Brian Papke discussed how Mazak uses Lean manufacturing and how being close to the customer showed Mazak how to revamp its strategy. Here is a sampling of some of Papke’s answers.
How does Mazak use Lean manufacturing to reduce waste?
Brian Papke: Lean manufacturing ultimately means reducing waste; I think that’s the bottom line. How can you reduce the waste and only manufacture the product? Particularly the modularity in how we design the product. If we would compare it to a car, maybe it would be a little bit easier for people to understand, because an automobile is a machine tool that we are all familiar with.
Perhaps a door on a car would be a module. Making that door complete as an assembly, in our case, we produce units of machines and then put them together and test them as units, and then put them together. That changed the whole flow concept of our factory.
How does customers’ trust continue to build out your manufacturing strategy?
Brian Papke: From the beginning, the idea was to get integrated into the market, establish people and understand our customers. And besides manufacturing, we would also establish these facilities as listening posts.
Over the years, we grew another concept that we call our Technology Center Concept. These are all designed to reach out and be close to the customer, understand their needs and then even go back and design the product to match their needs. In all actuality, we found that we had to go beyond the manufacturing strategy to a design strategy to create product that is matched much more closely to the customers’ needs and wants.
In the early years of manufacturing, we made standard products. Today, that’s not good enough. We need to make products so that they match industries and sometimes only particular parts of industries. To be able to manufacture in this manner, we have a technology center in Houston that works in conjunction with us to become one of the largest suppliers of equipment to the oil service industry in North America.
We’ve done the same thing with medical. We try to understand those needs. We make machines today that make things like hips and knees—things that people use all the time, but they are not really aware of where they come from. We provide machines that almost sculpt those parts from hard metals like titanium. We also manufacture machines that are very suited to making landing-gear and aircraft engines and structural parts for the aircraft, for the airline industry.
There are a wide variety of industries that we supply machines to, but we have found that we need to adapt and make machines that very closely match the requirements of the customer. That is because the U.S. is a good place to manufacture products, but you’ve got to be very productive on how you do it. You can’t just manufacture here. You have to have the right kinds of equipment, and you have to be very productive in order to be successful.
To hear the full interview, click on a link below: