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If you think manufacturing is in a downturn, think again, says Brian Papke, president of Mazak Corp., Florence, KY.

"Manufacturing in North America has grown for the past 26 months in a row, which means we've had continuous growth in manufacturing during this time, but that's not the impression we're getting when we hear the news. Equipment utilization is at high levels nearing 76 per cent on average and it's hard to find used machines,” says Papke.

Indeed, Mazak has witnessed tremendous growth; orders in 2010 were up 99 per cent and incoming orders for 2011 are expected to be higher than pre-recession levels in 2008. As of the time October 2011, orders were up 81 per cent.

And Mazak is experiencing this growth because manufacturers in Canada, the US and Mexico are purchasing equipment, much of it machine tools now made at Mazak's North American headquarters in Kentucky

Papke spoke at a recent press conference during Mazak's T3 (Tomorrow's Technology Today) event, part of the company's annual Discover Mazak events that seem to growing in popularity among manufacturers.

"When we set up this two-week event, we had a registration goal of 1500 but 2500 have registered and there have been 1300 registered just in the first week alone.”

Papke adds that to date he has spoken to approximately 300 customers and "no one was negative; all were positive about growth in industry.”

As part of the two-week event, manufacturers toured Mazak's sprawling 440,000 sq ft manufacturing facilities to see how the company manufactures more than 100 different machine tools using what it calls a ‘production-on-demand” model, a just-in-time type manufacturing approach by which inventories are kept low and machines are made according to market demands.

The Florence, KY, manufacturing operation has the ability to produce 135 machines a month and Papke says in October the company will have produced 130 machines.

Two of the machines manufactured in Florence, KY, and highlighted at the event are the QTN450 multi-tasking machine, which features a special combination tailstock, equipped with a bull nose center and a 1016 mm (40 in.) boring bar, for deep-hole boring to depths of up to 800 mm (31.5 in.), and the Orbitec, a unique machine created for odd-shaped parts that are difficult to hold and difficult to machine.

Papke's message is that there are opportunities for manufacturing growth in North America. "Customers see opportunity in manufacturing and just want solutions that will help them be more productive.”


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