Reflections in FANUC’s Crystal Ball
Company keeps a close eye on what customers want
By James D. Sawyer
“The biggest challenge for the next five years,” said Tomo Ishibe, president of FANUC FA America (Hoffman Estates, IL), during FANUC Corp.’s open house this spring in Oshino-mura, Yamanashi, Japan, “is anticipating end user expectations. However, we do have unique insight as we are our own customer.” Thus in many ways, Ishibe said, “the end user can be found right inside of the FANUC complex. We are providing an automation solution,” he explained, “so why not use it in manufacturing our products?”
Developing the technology to meet customer demands should not be hard for FANUC. The company has about 1500 employees working in its headquarters in Japan. About 200 of the workers are involved in production, with the rest devoting their time to research, development and administration. FANUC also has approximately 2000 robots helping to produce robots, CNC and drive systems in the complex, which offers a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji.
Among the scores of new products and other developments unveiled at the open house is what FANUC calls Nano CNC for high-speed, high-accuracy machining. “One of the big areas of demand we are seeing,” said Ishibe, “comes from builders of high-end machine tools looking to boost their productivity.” Nano CNC is capable of tilted working plane machining and smooth high-speed simultaneous five-axis machining on various types of machines. It offers a patented enhancement of synchronization between spindles and servo axes. Among other patented or patent-pending features now available on Series 30i/31i/32i-MODEL B CNCs are predictive and preventive maintenance tools for motors and fans. This allows a machine to be serviced during scheduled downtime rather than having to do so as the result of a machine failure.
“These preventive measures are a direct result of customer demand,” said Ishibe.
Given that the automotive sector—which is on a production tear these days—is an important market for FANUC, reducing downtime is sure to be viewed favorably by end users.