James Pitts, an engineer at DMG Mori and a graduate student in mechanical and aeronautical engineering at UC Davis, shows visitors on Friday's Community Day a cutting bit that is used in the machine behind him. The company employs 160 people and envisions growing to about 250. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Local News

Manufacturing company shows off productive Davis plant

By From page A1 | November 19, 2013

Mori Seiki, now known as DMG Mori, opened its doors to students, as well as political and business leaders, on Friday for a tour of its large Davis factory and its ramped-up production.

The Community Day at DMG Mori offered locals a peek into its 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, which utilizes advanced machinery for the creation of other specialized products (like equipment for car production).

DMG Mori broke ground on this facility, at 3805 Faraday Ave., in July 2012 and celebrated its grand opening in November 2012. It is the Japanese manufacturing company’s first and only factory in the United States.

The facility is adjacent to Digital Technology Laboratory Corp., a collaborative partner that provides machine tool research and development services for DMG Mori. The two buildings are spread over 19.2 acres in Davis.

Adam Hansel, a chief technical officer at DTL, said the number of employees and the unit production at the manufacturing plant has been steadily growing since the plant opened.

The factory had a quota of approximately 12 units per month in early 2012, Hansel said, which has increased to 40. There are 160 employees among all of DMG Mori’s departments, which has increased over time as well.

Hansel further explained that there’s a push to reach the factory’s calculated capacity of 100 units per month, for which an estimated 250 employees would be sufficient.

If the need grows even further, Hansel added, the company has reserved an additional eight acres for future expansion to the southeast of the manufacturing plant.

Right now, the company reports that only 50 percent of the material used for its products at the Davis factory is sourced from the United States. The remainder of the components come from Japanese suppliers.

“As much as possible, we’d like to start sourcing more from the United States — to support the local economy,” Hansel said. “Part of that depends on global purchasing agreements, and also on exchange rates.”

How these components are used to build DMG Mori’s machine tool products is a question that the leadership of the company hoped would be answered by hosting Friday’s tours.

Since the products can weigh upwards of 2 tons, the heavy metal is pieced together by a mostly automated system of advanced robotics. The smaller, precise components are handled by the factory’s workers.

The company demonstrated the process publicly also as a way of arousing interest from UC Davis students who are aspiring engineers or manufacturers.

“We had more than 200 students sign up for a tour,” Hansel said. “It’s satisfying to see that much interest. We want to get the next generation of engineers excited about manufacturing and engineering in general.”

The company has an extensive internship program, he added. More than 20 students at a time are involved in different areas of the plant’s operation.

DMG Mori also allowed the city’s officials and business leaders a glimpse of its inner workings. Samuel Citron, a Davis resident and local investor, was inspired by what he saw.

“Hopefully, this is the future of Davis,” Citron said. “Smart-tech, clean-tech. … It doesn’t require that we become the next Silicon Valley, but we should invite more companies that provide good, skilled jobs to locals.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Brett Johnson

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