A view of what the new "XXL Center" addition to the Pfronten plant will look like once completed.
Beyond the gorgeous mountain vistas and the picturesque, small-town setting, the first thing that struck me about DMG Mori Seiki’s production facility in Pfronten, Germany was the fact that the place is under construction. Construction indicates expansion; expansion indicates growth; and, as I’d suspected prior to attending the company’s annual open house event, that growth certainly isn’t confined to the Pfronten plant.
Hosted February 18-22 at that facility, the annual event featured 73 machine exhibits and the worldwide launch of 8 new models, as well as seminars on automation, aerospace, lifecycle services and die/mold engineering. Along with a chance to tour the production side of the Pfronten plant, these and other highlights attracted more than 6,000 visitors from around the world—including many countries that have seen heavy recent investment from DMG Mori Seiki. These include the U.S., where the company completed a Davis, California production facility in 2012; China, where a factory in Tianjin has been operating since October 2013; and Russia, where a factory currently under construction in Ulyanovsk is expected to be churning out Ecoline products by years’ end. In all three of these cases, the company is following a strategy of producing machine tools locally for each respective market.
Those three countries remain among the strongest growth markets in the world for machine tools, according to consumption data highlighted at a press conference featuring Dr. Rüdiger Kapitza, chairman of the board of DMG Mori Seiki Aktiengesellschaft, and Dr. Masahiko Mori, DMG Mori Seiki president. Yet the company’s activities suggest opportunities for growth extend far beyond those three nations—Kapitza noted that overall, “sales seem to be catching up with the good mood.” Europe, he said, is moving forward again after years of stagnation, and the company expects to complete construction on a new headquarters in Winterthur, Switzerland by years’ end. In Japan, it plans to host a grand opening this summer for a new Tokyo facility that will serve as the primary hub of sales and service in Asia. Meanwhile, in Italy, construction is underway on a tech center that will focus primarily on turning products. Plans are also in the works for an operation in Shanghai.
Pfronten, of course, remains the center of machine tool production for the company. Once completed, the expansion there will address a capacity bottleneck for the largest DMG Mori Seiki machine tools available, including the DMU 340 P, the DMU 600 P XXL and, notably, the DMU 270 P—a massive five-axis model launched at the open house that is said to be particularly useful for machining deep mold cavities.
While these machines are particularly massive, larger work envelopes were just one of a few trends I noticed among the machine introduced at the event. Meanwhile, keep an eye on this blog for a final piece of coverage on the open house.