Since joining XL five years ago I’ve learned so much about our business, our customers and what it takes to manufacture efficiently in Australia yet there is still so much to learn. An area that always intimidates the hell out of me is what’s the next machine we need to improve our quality, capacity and safety. One of the greatest advantages XL has over the competition is our ability to utilize superior technology! It would have been my first or second week when our founder Nick Korganow quipped “JP, one day we’ll go to Plaza- they’ll blow your mind! You’ll actually learn something there; those guys at Amada know what they’re doing- that’s for sure.” That day finally came two weeks ago and as usual, Nick was absolutely right!
Amada are the word leaders in sheet metal manufacturing machinery and Amada Machine Tool Plaza is a place where their customers can work directly with Amada engineers to create solutions to various issues. Nick and I were invited by Amada Oceania to go and visit Plaza tour of their manufacturing centre near the base of Mt Fuji. The trip was well organised and met our Australian based sales engineer (Andrew) at our Hotel in Shinjuku right on time at 9am. He introduced us to Tad Ogawa, his Japanese counterpart who works for Amada Japan and he stayed with the three of us for the next couple of days. Our first port of call was a visit to local sheet metal jobbing shop about two hours south of Tokyo. For those who aren’t familiar, a jobbing shop processes sheet metal cutting, folding, welding, and sometimes painting for those who don’t have the capability to do the work ‘in house’. This was an honour and we enjoyed the visit immensely.
From there we headed to Forum 246- which is Amada’s hotel, display centre and solution centre… I called it the kill room! That night we had some local food and a few sake’s before we hit the sheets early for the big day ahead.
After breakfast we given a formal introduction to Amada Japan and learned about their business, philosophy and their vision for the next 30 years! Amada staff are proud of their 70 years of success and have a very clear vision for making it 100 years. From what we saw I’m sure they’ll make it happen. Our tour of the new machinery was fast paced but informative. Every machine on the floor was turned on, ready to go with operators standing by ready for a demonstration on demand. Again, back to the Porsche 911 analogy- It’s like going to a Porsche Dealership and seeing every model of 2016 Porsche 911’s, in every colour with a race car driver in every one of them ready to go! Both Andrew and Tad were excellent guides and Andrew’s familiarity of our operation certainly helped us get the information we needed and of course increased his chances of selling us more machinery! Let’s just say he might have a good Christmas in July!
The next and final day was a factory tour in Fujinomiya where they build a majority of their products. We were again formally introduced to the manager, given a video introduction to the plant and had thorough tour of their facility. For me it was something I’ve never seen before and can now appreciate how it’s possible to build such massive machines in volume.
It was a great experience and learned quite a bit about Amada’s history and can certainly understand why they are the world leaders in their industry. To all that contributed to our experience; Domo arigato!