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2008 FIN – National Machinery Enters China With New Lean FX

February 11
00:00 2013

2008 FIN – National Machinery Enters China With New Lean FX

May 29, 2008 FIN – “We had on the corporate chalkboard for some time a question: ‘Could we produce a simplified, less expensive Formax?'” National Machinery LLC CEO Andrew Kalnow explained the new Lean FX.
The formidable Formax series has dominated the fastener machinery market worldwide.
The Lean FX was designed in Tiffin, OH – where National Machinery started 130 years ago – and is manufactured in China.
“We knew there would be a clear demand in the worldwide market,” Kalnow told Fastener & Fixing Europe editor Phil Matten during an interview at the NM Group Technologies Suzhou Ltd. in China. “Customers said to us, ‘Formax, we love it, but for more straightforward fastener and parts production it is more expensive than we would like.'”
Kalnow described Formax as a “premium product, with an appropriately premium price. So we took the approach of broadening the market. The core Formax is particularly suited to complex cold-formed parts production. What was needed to compliment it was a more versatile machine that bridged into the fastener market. ”
The first Lean FX was unveiled at Wire Dusseldorf 2008 and is now being commissioned at SPS Technologies in the UK.
Kalknow noted that when National Machinery first went to China three years ago that it became clear there was a market for a simpler machine. And that could be marketed to the resst of the world.
The Lean FX is known as Puma in China to emphasize the speed and agility.
“In Europe, Japan and elsewhere in the world Formax is well known,” Kalnow pointed out. “So in these markets it is about emphasizing the productivity advantages of a cost effective machine.
Gregory Smith, National’s senior vice president for engineering, told Fastener & Fixing Europe that “it is not easy to strip out cost without removing some major features. The Lean FX is not a quick change Formax. The quick change was taken off and replaced with manual adjustment. That allowed us to simplify the electronics. The heart of the machine, though, is still very much a Formax.”
Smith emphasizes that the Lean FX still provides a precision zero clearance heading slide and zero clearance transfer.
Beyond the new Lean FX, National opened the 4,000 sq meter Suzhou facility a year ago with separate shops. The first features a classroom-style training room, including two fully operational Formax 2000 machines.
“Unlike other parts of the world, Formax was not particularly known to Chinese companies,” Smith noted. The demonstration machines can trial run customers’ parts to show level of engineering and speed.
The second production zone provides parts machining and production paralleling equipment in Tiffin. New engineers are mentored by engineers and inspectors from Tiffin. Initial parts are shipped to Tiffin for inspection.
“Currently 80% of the Lean FX parts come from Tiffin,” Smith explained. National is evaluating local vendors to develop parts in China.
“Some components will always be produced in Tiffin because of the design and manufacturing capabilities required,” Smith said. For example the cams “are the magic in our machine and we want to exercise absolute control over their quality.”
The Suzhou shop includes production of Lean FX machines and refurbishment of other machines. “Over the decades plenty of Westerners have popped into China with good equipment only to sell it and leave the Chinese customer without service and support,” Kalnow noted. “Our on the ground commitment to five service engineers based here, and trained literally on the building of the machines, is crucial.”
The fourth area of the Suzhou faculty is for the NM Global Group subsidiary, CTG, which assembles Ransohoff cleaning equipment for the Chinese market. Web: ©2008/2013 Fastener Industry News and Fastener & Fixing Europe.
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