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Amada Opens New N.C. Plant; Tech Center to Follow

By Bob Puhr Contributing Writer

Amada America Inc., Buena Park, C.A., a supplier of precision sheet metal production equipment and related systems, has expanded its customer coverage in the Southeast with the opening of a 190,000 ft2 (17,652 m²) manufacturing facility near High Point, N.C. A 62,000 ft2 (5,760 m²) technical center is also under construction on the campus and should be completed in the spring of 2020.

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Amada America’s new manufacturing campus near High Point, N.C. is the company’s first in the Southeast. The plant is dedicated to the production of a new high-precision press brake line and laser automation equipment. Shown here is an Okuma MCR-a5cii double-column bridge mill with a table size of 3,700 X 12,000mm and a weight capacity of 75 tons.

Amada America’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike Guerin, led off the ribbon cutting ceremony on December 6th by summarizing Amada’s goals and strategy for the High Point investment, which will be in excess of $80 million and will add 200 jobs when the campus is complete. “This is our third manufacturing location in the U.S. and our first in the Southeast,” Guerin said. “It is part of our overall strategy to be closer to customers as our business with them grows.”

Guerin cited the unwavering support of Yukihiro Fukui, CEO of Amada America, for the expansion of Amada’s manufacturing capabilities into the Southeast, which constitutes about one-third of Amada’s  press brake business in the U.S. “Amada is one of only two press brake suppliers to manufacture its products in the U.S.,” Guerin said.

The company’s other locations are on the West Coast, where the Japanese-based parent company, Amada Co., Ltd., first “landed” in 1971 while establishing its presence in North America. Amada has grown from a manufacturer of bandsaw blades 73 years ago to a global supplier of punch presses, press brakes, laser cutting systems, software, and tooling. The company now operates in 70 countries.

“This is a cutting-edge facility in terms of its capitalizing on IIoT tools to monitor productivity and performance,” said Patrick Medlin, Amada America’s Chief Manufacturing Officer. “The completion of the High Point facility brings our total manufacturing capabilities under roof in the U.S. to about 600,000 ft2 (55,742 m2).

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Amada production technicians discuss the tooling setup for a production run of components for the HRB series of precision press brakes.

The High Point plant will manufacture a new product line of high-precision press brakes as well as automation for laser systems for the U.S. market. “The industry’s quick acceptance of our fiber laser systems for enhanced throughput has also increased the need to remove downstream bottlenecks in materials handling and bending,” Medlin said. “That is why we developed our new line of press brakes to help customers increase total throughput.”

The Hybrid Retrofittable Bending (HRB) series of press brakes manufactured at High Point feature automated tool change (ATC) capabilities and integrated bend sensors. The press brakes are available in bed lengths up to 13 ft with 238 US ton pressures. They are designed for variable lot sizes and complex tool layouts. Quick tool setups achieved by ATC can triple or quadruple the number of setups performed each day and allow an operator to seamlessly introduce rush jobs when required. 

Amada equips its large models with factory-installed sheet followers as standard, and this feature is available as an option on the smaller models.  The sheet followers assist an operator while bending large and/or heavy parts. Parts that normally require multiple operators can now be efficiently handled by a single person and reduce the hazards associated with bending these types of parts. When not in use, the sheet follower arms can be slid to the side for full machine accessibility.

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Among the people participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new plant on December 6th were (left to right): Mike Guerin, Amada America’s COO; Yukihiro Fukui, CEO of Amada America; and Jay Wagner, Mayor of High Point.

Medlin explained that the company sees significant opportunities for growth of the High Point campus as the company’s customer base continues to grow in the region. “We have ample room to add to this facility here,” Medlin said. “We chose this location due to its proximity to our customers, access to skilled manufacturing talent, and the excellent support from the county and state’s economic development staff.”

According to Sandy Dunbeck, executive vice president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., Guilford County (where High Point is located) “has more manufacturing jobs than any county in North Carolina and ranks among the top in the nation.”

Construction of the High Point facility took about 13 months. The construction effort met the challenge of about two months of “unrelenting rain” according to Brett Goode, senior vice president of Gray Construction, which required extra effort on the part of Amada, constructors, and subcontractors.

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Patrick Medlin, Amada America’s Chief Manufacturing Officer, spoke to the attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Attendees included customers, government officials, economic development executives, and members of the media.

The investment in the High Point campus follows another significant move for Amada in this region, the acquisition of Advanced Technology Sales & Service (ATS) of Greensboro, N.C. in April 2018.  ATS was one of the largest machine distributors in the Southeast.

“This site gives us the opportunity to expand,” Medlin said. “We needed enough land to get the project going, and we have a multi-phased plan to expand through the years. Of course, we can’t predict the future economy, but if things go according to plan, we will have approximately 500,000 ft2 (46,452 m2) under roof here by 2023.”

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