Record attendance at Citizen’s first Midlands Open House
Nine orders to the value of £2 million were placed at Citizen Machinery UK’s first Open House at its new Midlands turning centre of excellence in Brierley Hill. The order total is likely to double in the immediate aftermath of the event. Attendance over three days last month exceeded 300, a record number. Visitors looking to upgrade their sliding- and fixed-head CNC turning capacity were welcomed from OEMs and subcontractors throughout the UK and Ireland, as well as from continental Europe.
Four products were launched, all of which benefit from Citizen’s patented LFV chip breaking software. They were the new L32-X, L32-XII and D25-VIII Cincom sliding-head bar autos on which the software is optional, and the Miyano BNA-42GTY, the first Citizen fixed-head lathe to have the addition of LFV in the operating system of the Mitsubishi control.
A further 11 machines were on display cutting metal, one of which, a Cincom L20, was equipped with a low-cost, automatic billet load/unload system instead of a barfeed. Most of the lathes had a sheet attached to illustrate the annual profit achievable if a customer purchases the machine and produces the demonstration part over 10, 15 or 20 hours per day. All examples showed a healthy margin.
In the best case, when machining a £2 brass part in a cycle time of 40 seconds for 20 hours a day on a 42 mm capacity Miyano BNA-42S2 fixed-head turn-mill centre, subtracting the machine cost per year from the income from production of the component resulted in a profit of £881,520 per year, ignoring operating costs.
The Open House featured a Made in the Midlands networking event on the last morning, in which 50 people from local member companies participated. Representatives from each firm introduced their business and learned more about Citizen and its products. Interestingly, it was revealed during the presentation by Citizen Machinery UK’s deputy managing director Darren Wilkins that the revenue generated by the machine tool division of the global business has recently overtaken that of the famous watches. He was also proud to announce that sales in the UK and Ireland in 2018 were at a record high at 164 machines, propelling the company to market leader for the supply of bar turning automatics, while the first quarter of 2019 saw it also become the leading supplier of sliding-head lathes in UK as well as the whole of Europe. Much of this success is down to the introduction of LFV software on the Cincom platforms.
A party was held on the Wednesday evening to celebrate the opening of the new premises, at which Citizen watches were presented to consultants involved in the design and construction of the building extension. Entertainment was provided by a band whose Birmingham-born lead guitarist Ian Parker has established himself as one of the UK’s foremost blues artists.
Supplier company presence at machine tool open houses is not new, but few host as many as this event. Twenty firms were represented and unusually, four of them have permanent display booths adjacent to the new showroom: Citizen Finance, headed by John Lane; workholding specialist Hainbuch; tooling supplier Floyd Automatic Tooling; 1st Machine Tool Accessories, which in addition to selling workholding equipment is the UK agent for Iemca bar magazines, which are fitted to most Citizen lathes.
Other equipment providers were: Arno (parting-off and grooving tools), Bison (chucks, tooling and workholding), Blaser Swisslube (cutting fluids) and its UK supplier Jemtech, Cromar Metal Products (swarf conveyors), Filtermist (oil mist extraction), Firetrace (fire suppression), Guhring (cutting tools), Heimatec (tooling systems), Hydrajet (high-pressure coolant systems), J&S Engineering (swarf processing), LNS (bar feeding and swarf management), Mikron (automation and tooling), NTK Cutting Tools (tooling), Sandvik (tooling), Wieland (conveyors and augers copper and copper alloy materials), and Wogaard (coolants).
Citizen success at Open House brings immediate sales of 15 machines worth over £2.7 million
Citizen Machinery UK’s (CMUK) highly successful, recent 3-day Open House immediately added a further 15 machines, worth over £2.7 million, to its existing order book of record sales involving some 100 Cincom sliding head and Miyano fixed-head turn-mill centres stretching into 2019.
Darren Wilkins, deputy managing director, said: “Over 350 people came through our doors over the three days with several bringing important future projects for us to investigate. This influx of interest was from both OEM and the subcontract sectors and in particular involved oil and gas, aerospace and automotive companies.”
He followed on to confirm that following demonstrations and the ability for visitors to talk face-to-face with applications, service support and finance teams, the area sales engineers have a host of follow-ups and customer visits scheduled which will doubtless create future business well into the next year.
Citizen’s patented Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) programmable chip size machining technology was a major focus of attention adding to the ratio of seven out of every eight orders currently featuring its inclusion. This ratio was confirmed with the interest following the launch of the larger 38 mm capacity bar size of the Cincom L32-VIIILFV sliding head and the Miyano BNA-42GTYLFV moving headstock machines at the event.
From the demonstrations, visitors were able to appreciate how Citizen’s patented development of LFV is a fundamental in the design of the machine. Its ability to control chip size cannot reliably be achieved through simply adding a macro to the programming, an area Citizen revealed it had already investigated and rejected over a decade ago.
To maintain machining integrity the machine structure has to be upgraded for its overall rigidity, vibration damping and drive system performance in order to absorb the rapid oscillation of the cutting tool. As part of the cycle, the tool movement creates, in effect, tens of micron sized air gaps, in synchronisation with the rotation of the spindle.
Darren Wilkins added: “Both new and existing customers were also showing considerable interest in the Cincom ‘Superimposition’ operating control software which enables the simultaneous cutting with up to three tools on fixed head, two spindle, twin-turret, turn-mill centres. From the demonstrations, it could be seen how the added flexibility to remove material from both ends of a component at the same time was able to significantly lower cycle times.
CMUK is also responsible for Citizen and Miyano product ranges in Africa, France, Italy, Middle East, Portugal and Spain which contribute to the current order book of over 100 machines. Indeed, Citizen’s overall European deliveries in 2018 will exceed 1,200 units establishing the company as market leader for Swiss-type sliding head machines as well as the leading brand for providing bar turning solutions. As a result, Europe significantly contributed to Citizen’s worldwide production output of 6,500 machines this year.
Geoff Bryant retires from Citizen Machinery after creating business platform for record sales
A pre-Christmas gathering at Citizen Machinery UK of 79 employees, spouses and partners, plus a group of long-serving retired employees and specialist suppliers, celebrated Geoff Bryant’s 43 years of service, of which 25 were given to the company as managing director.
Significant in the last 12 months in his departure planning role, which involved liaison and progressive hand-over to the new management team of Edward James as MD, Darren Wilkins Deputy MD and Jon Hart as Finance Director, was a record breaking year of trading for the Bushey-based business supporting the ranges of Citizen Cincom CNC sliding head and Miyano fixed head turn-mill centres.
Edward James said: “I must compliment Geoff, who has set such a high standard and raised the profile of the business over so many years. He has created an enviable platform that enables us to further develop the company and its people, in particular, involving keen younger employees. This will enable us to provide customers with the level of support that such a high technology-based product deserves.”
He followed on to describe how with Citizen’s recent announcement of a £2 million investment in a regional facility in the West Midlands is destined to become a European conference facility and has been billed by the Japanese as its European Centre of Excellence. He said: “In particular, the interest and rapid take-up by customers following the launch of the Citizen patented and market leading Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) machining technology on the latest Citizen and forthcoming Miyano machines, means that sales forecasts through 2018 show an even greater level of growth.”
Geoff Bryant has committed further time to serve the machine tool industry and in particular the members of the MTA in his role as its president. He accepted this position following dedicated support of the MACH exhibition through his involvement on the MTA’s Exhibition Committee from 2001, rising to become its chairman from 2005 until late in 2016 when he took over the presidency.
He will continue to be available to provide support to the new management team with the knowledge and experience gained from his initiation to production engineering direct from university in 1974 with NC Engineering under MD Ken Jeffreys and the new to the UK, Citizen NC-controlled product range. He took over as MD in 1991 and was later heavily involved with the negotiations with the Japanese when the company became its wholly-owned subsidiary Citizen Machinery UK in 2006.
Adding to the farewell retirement event, Edward James applauded Godfrey Mills, who has worked with the sales team since 1999. He told the Christmas gathering about his 18 years of adventure keeping up with the rapid machine tool developments and ever expanding and challenging needs of his customer base forever demanding and receiving the benefits from the latest Citizen and Miyano technology. Also congratulated by the MD for long term commitment was customer manager Trevor Haase, who is responsible for post-sales support and was celebrating 30 years of man and boy service to the company.
Geoff Bryant (right) receiving a farewell and handshake from Citizen Machinery UK managing director Edward James