I was really looking forward to visiting Las Vegas this November. Fabtech 2020 promised three days of sore feet, endless handshaking, over-priced nachos and tap beer, and a chance to catch up with friends I only get to see once a year.
Did I mention the machine tools? I’ll miss them, as well, along with the welders, robots, tooling, abrasives and manufacturing software. The cancellation of this year’s metal forming and fabricating technology extravaganza, announced Aug. 3, was disappointing, but not unexpected. Sadly, it was just one more bit of bad news in a long year of bad news days.
But, chin up. We’re manufacturing people, and were getting through this year of pandemic, politics and polarization to emerge stronger than ever before. It’s what makes our country – and our industry – great.
In the meantime, there’s some news you might have missed since the last Fabtech. It turns out, machine tool builders have been making significant investments across the sheet metal fabrication industry, with several new customer service and support centers as well as an increased commitment to build equipment here in the United States.
Coast to coast coverage
In May of 2020, Bystronic Inc.’s first U.S.-assembled laser – the BySmart Fiber 3015 – left the company’s new factory in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The 164,894-sq.-ft. facility now serves as the headquarters for the Americas market region, and aside from machine assembly and parts warehousing, it also supports sales, service, training and applications.
Roughly 30,000 sq. ft. of the facility is devoted to the Bystronic Customer Experience Center where customers can see live demonstrations and learn about new technologies. There are also plans to begin assembling the company’s BySmart Fiber 4020 there later this year. Farther to the north, Bystronic Canada Ltd. completed the move into new corporate headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, earlier this year. The 15,000-sq.-ft. facility includes a showroom/demo center as well as a training center for Bystronic customers across Canada.
Back in the Midwest, Mazak Optonics Corp. confirmed expansion plans for its North American Headquarters located in Elgin, Ill. This fall, Mazak Optonics is breaking ground on the expansion of their Elgin Technology Center. As the market footprint of Mazak lasers has grown considerably in North America, the expansion is necessary for enhancing Mazak’s customer support, while continuing research and development of new laser systems and automation solutions.
“Our long-term commitment to customers in North America convinced us to move forward with our expansion plans,” said Al Bohlen, president of Mazak Optonics, in a press release. “The goal of this significant investment in our North American operations is to further strengthen our customer support operations while continuing to provide customers with advanced laser cutting and automation system solutions. Mazak has a long-established history of making strategic investments during such times, ensuring its readiness for the next phase of growth.”
The expansion project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021. It will bring more than 20,000 sq. ft. of additional operational facilities, which will feature a new auditorium, increased capacity for parts and customer service support, a new research and development center and additional machine tool technology areas.
In what seems so long ago, but was just before the last Fabtech, Trumpf Inc. opened its 20,000-sq.-ft. Customer Center in September of 2019. Visitors to the Costa Mesa, Calif., facility can attend product demonstrations; receive operator and maintenance training; and explore seven state-of-the-art examples of the company’s laser, punch and bending technologies.
And, thanks to Trumpf ‘s TruServices and TruConnect remote connectivity solutions, customers and guests can also explore equipment at the Trumpf Smart Factory in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Though not yet officially announced (as of this writing, at least), MC Machinery Systems Inc. is planning to open a 30,000-sq.-ft. sales, service and applications facility in Columbia, N.C.
“I don’t have an exact date yet, but the furniture’s in, and it should be anytime now,” says George Johnson, national sales manager for the consumable products group. “It’s a smaller version of what we have here in Chicago and on the West Coast. The original grand opening was slated for April, but as with everything else right now, Covid-19 messed that up.”
Add it to the list
But wait, there’s more. In late 2019, Amada America Inc. opened its 190,000-sq.-ft. Carolina Mfg. Center in High Point, N.C., then added a 62,000-sq.-ft. technical center on the same campus early this year.
Learning how to measure fabricated parts also become easier in 2020, given Exact Metrology’s expansion into Moline, Ill., with plans for another new facility in Texas, as well.
In other Mazak news, Mazak machining customers in Canada will be glad to hear of the company’s new Edmonton Technical Center, which will showcase and support multiple models of CNC lathes, machining centers and multitasking machines.
These, of course, are just a handful of the new facilities that have recently opened. Across the board, laser OEMs have constructed a slew of showrooms around the United States that more often than not offer immersive experiences for all types of visitors. In lieu of canceled trade shows, it’s fortunate that these outlets are available for potential customers to see equipment live, in action – while, of course, adhering to CDC guidelines.
With Covid-19 and all the disruptions it caused, things could have been worse this year. But, the numerous corporate expansions, not to mention loads of new technology, all point to some good news: 2021 will be better.