A factory of the future with a good blend of expertise and automation
Japanese machine tool company Okuma Corporation has opened a new, more efficient factory in Japan to maintain its competitive edge and to underpin the continuation of its Japan-based manufacturing policy, with further investment predicted.
Called Dream Site One (DS1), the new factory is located at Okuma’s Oguchi complex, which is in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, whose capital is Nagoya. Construction commenced in August 2012 and involved demolishing an original manufacturing facility and erecting a new building 20% larger by floor area at a cost of ¥8 billion (£48 million), with the factory entering full production in May 2013.
The new Okuma facility is the first of what the company expects will be a series of “Dream Site” plants. Even large parts here are run on an automated line. This FMS unites four double column machines. The complete system is 120 meters long
In Okuma’s new DS1 production facility the machining area makes extensive use of automation. Fastems pallet systems automatically feed work to machining centers, enabling the plant to continue producing when employees are not present.
The new facility is the first of what the company expects will be a series of “Dream Site” plants.
Even large parts here are run on an automated line. This FMS unites four double column machines. The complete system is 120 meters long.
DS1 is a self-contained start-to-finish factory with a floor space of 23,600 m2, consisting of two sections: a parts machine shop and an assembly shop, and handles the whole process: raw materials input -> parts processing -> kitting & sub assembly -> unit assembly -> final assembly -> witness inspection -> shipment.
Environmental temperature is controlled and kept at a constant temperature both in the parts machine shop and the assembly shop to keep constant parts temperature throughout the process from processing to assembly in order to achieve stable quality.
A view of the spindle assembly room at DS1, located in one corner of the machine shop
The machine shop facilities are equipped with 40 units of advanced processing machines including Okuma’s large double-column machining centers boasting of high speed and high precision, horizontal machining centers, multitasking machines and grinders, together with FMS, robots, loader, automatic feed system of cutting fluid and automatic recovery system of chips, realising a machining system that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By merging the state of the art of information technology with the shop knowledge (know-how) cultivated as a production goods manufacturer and radically practicing front loading, Okuma has implemented their technique of “New Direct Machining” to reduce the preparation work on the machine and their “New Production Control System” to link the production by planning and the flexible production by order. In addition, Okuma has established a “Visualising system” which enables utilising the shop knowledge in order to quickly respond to the current production status which is changing on a day-to-day basis.
DS1 has doubled productivity and increased production capacity by 30 per cent to 120 units per month, worth 3 billion yen. Lead-times have been halved, shortening delivery times and enhancing customer service.
DS1 has about 500 pieces of solar photovoltaic panels mounted on the wall surfaces and about 3,800 pieces on the roof of the building, which serve as a mega solar power plant generating a maximum power output of 1,037 kW. In addition, green panels are laid out under the photovoltaic panels which are contributing to the reduction of CO2.
Heat insulating panels are used for the exterior walls of the building. The factory is also equipped with other facilities such as LED illuminations, inverter-controlled air compressors and air conditioning systems with an electric heat pump. Furthermore, bellow tents are used to prevent direct inflow of outside air when transportation vehicles for shipping machines go in and out of the factory, contributing to energy saving.
With these efforts, the company realises a reduction of energy costs, including electrical power consumption in the factory building by 30%.
More than 6,000 national and international visitors came to Oguchi to see 33 demo machines and the newly opened factory Dream Site 1
“Provided that the world economy continues on its current path of steady recovery, I anticipate that DS2 and DS3 will be started in 2014 and completed within two years for assembly of larger and smaller size machines,” said Okuma’s President and CEO Yoshimaro (Dean) Hanaki.
“Additional investment of around ¥12 billion yen (£72 million), will be required to complete our Dream Site initiative in Oguchi, which is designed to streamline production of high added value products in Japan and cement our position at the top of global machine tool manufacture.”