Citizen give a shot in the arm for manufacturing

Citizen Machinery backs the UK’s long-term future as it opens £3 million Turning Centre of Excellence in the West Midlands

Posted on 26 Aug 2019 and read 758 times
Citizen give a shot in the arm for manufacturingWith much ‘gloom and doom’ currently surrounding UK manufacturing, it is heartening to know that Japan-based Citizen Machinery continues to have an “unwavering belief” in the industry.

This was recently highlighted with the formal opening last month of a new 1,660m2 Turning Centre of Excellence in the West Midlands — comprising a showroom, international conference area, customer training school, applications engineering department and administrative offices.

Citizen Machinery UK Ltd (www.citizenmachinery.co.uk) welcomed an international guest list of 150 people that included Keiichi Nakajima (the president of parent company Citizen Machinery Japan) to the official opening of the impressive facility on the site of the former Express & Star newspaper in Brierley Hill.

Deputy managing director Darren Wilkins said: “Citizen UK is a growing business, with an increasing number of turn-key solutions tailored to meet our customers’ exacting requirements.”

He went on to say that the increase in capacity offered by the new centre means the company is better able to serve the needs of not just its UK customers but also its wider European businesses, together with its network of dealerships in Western Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Africa.

The newly built 680m2 showroom and technical centre extension has seen the installation of a 16-tonne internal Street crane, and partner companies such as those offering tooling, work-holding equipment and CAD/CAM software have set up permanent demonstration areas.

Mr Wilkins said: “With the demands of Industry 4.0 taking on added significance for the manufacturing sector, the new building provides extra space for preparing high-value automated turn-key installations complete with programs, tooling and accessories.

This will help Citizen meet the demands of OEMs, Tier One suppliers and sub-contractors — both at home and overseas — who are increasingly asking for production solutions to be delivered in weeks rather than months in order to fulfil new business requirements.

“It is a resounding endorsement of the health of UK manufacturing — and a sign of the confidence that Citizen Japan has in the new UK management team — that our head office has decided to invest more than £3 million in developing this market further.”

Mr Nakajima said it all began with a watch business that was founded in 1918 with the goal of producing high-quality yet affordable watches for every citizen in Japan — hence the name.

The company has diversified over the years and grown into a global business that serves customers in the machine tool, electronic device and printer sectors.

CitizenHe pointed out that Citizen Machinery owes a great deal to its heritage, having started out manufacturing machines specifically to make small precision parts for watches.

These machines were, in turn, supplied to the watch division, and the company started selling them to customers in 1961 — Citizen watches are still made with the company’s own machines.

Mr Nakajima said that Citizen Machinery UK (formerly known as NC Engineering before becoming a wholly owned subsidiary in 2006), has always been an important part of the Citizen Group, and it has played a key role over the last 45 years in selling Citizen machines into the UK market.

He said that Citizen is now market leader for sales of all fixed- and sliding-head bar-turning autos in the UK and Ireland.

He also pointed out that sales of Citizen machines in Europe have increased year-on-year, and 1,200 units were sold in 2018, taking turnover to nearly 600 million euros (the highest figure so far).

To put this into perspective, it meant that Europe achieved the group’s highest sales, even beating Japan.

Underpinning this success of the Citizen Group has been a significant programme of investment in plant and equipment, both within Japan and beyond, including the expansion of its production capacity in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, new technical centres in Japan and China, and a sales office expansion in India.

Mr Nakajima concluded: “The investment made in the new UK Centre of Excellence is a demonstration of Citizen Machinery’s confidence in the UK.

Whereas other machine tool builders focus more on investing in emerging markets such as China and India, Citizen has always had faith in the quality of the UK engineering industry. Therefore, it was a simple decision on my part to commit to investing in this new facility.”

Citizen Machinery UK’s headquarters will remain in Bushey, Hertfordshire, where a similar range of activities takes place, but the new facility will bring the company closer to the majority of its customers, who are based in the Midlands.

After the presentations, Mr Nakajima cut a ribbon formally opening the new centre.

He then planted a cherry tree in the grounds of the 1.1-acre site as a traditional symbol of Japanese culture and a lasting reminder of the strong bonds between Japan and the UK.

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