Questions Going Into PMTS

With the PMTS show coming up next week in Columbus, Ohio, this is what I want to find out:

1. Graff-Pinkert, our machinery business, has noticed a distinct slowdown in both inquiries and sales over the last two months. Is this just us, or is it industry-wide?

2. How narrow is the Japanese pipeline of new machine and automotive components? Can the builders get fresh inventory out of Japan?

3. With the dollar falling out of bed versus the euro, how much are the Europeans raising prices, and are they able to ramp up production to meet demand?

4. Does anybody go to shows anymore besides the exhibitors and students with flat brims on their baseball caps?

5. Is the Swiss CNC lathe market headed more toward the downscale Citizen-A machine or the upscale technical machines?

6. Is the Swiss market going to be completely dominated by Citizen, Star and Tsugami, or will some of the smaller brands wage a significant challenge?

7. Are the Tier One, Two, and Three automotive suppliers going to have the confidence in the future to start really buying heavily again?

Question: I’ll have some answers in a week, do you have comments now?

Boys sporting flat brim hats

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9 thoughts on “Questions Going Into PMTS

  1. Marc Klecka


    I’ll answer a few here. Marubeni Citizen had a record 1st Quarter in sales, by a substantial margin. The A-Series was Citizen’s answer to a demand for Capability, Speed and Investment. “Downscale” may be in the eye of the beholder. With 4 driven spindles standard (more available), C-axis to the main and sub spindle standard and unsurpassed support, I beg to differ.

    When producers buy our Citizen, they are buying so much more than a machine. They are buying the entire transaction; including, knowledgeable local support, high resale value and entry into a networked family of satisfied users.

    As always, It will be great to see you in Columbus.

    With passion,


  2. Emily Aniakou

    Hi Marc,

    What can the L machines do that the A machines can’t? And what’s the price difference?

  3. Lloyd Graff


    I’ve noticed prices of used L Model Citizens are starting to trend down because the competitiveness of the A Series. What is the actual difference between the A and L machines?

  4. Dan Murphy

    Hi Lloyd,

    1) Our last wo months have been record breakers and we are still on the same pace this month. From what I hear our our other divisions and our distributors are all doing quite well with conventional CNC sales.

    2) So far so good. We’ve actually been able to add to what we have on order and move up our delivery schedule.

    3) I’m not sure I follow the question. Usually vendors sell in their local currency. When the dollar weakens against that currency, the price in dollars goes up. If anything a weak dollar brings work here from abroad.

    4) Yes they do. Believe it or not there are lots of people that come out to look at new technology and and to find solutions to their problems. The crowds might be a little smaller, but productivity improvements mean that shops run a whole lot more work with far fewer people. So there are fewer people clogging up the aisles, but they are better people. The ones that came to drink beer and leer at booth babes but never bought anything or changed their business are long gone.

    If you attend shows you might find about machines like our BE series, which pioneered the concept of a simpler, lower priced two path control CNC Swiss long before Citizen changed the A20 to stay competitive..

    5) The Swiss market is no different than any other market segment in the machine tool business. Broad market, low price machines will sell in higher volume, but at lower margins. The people who buy them can’t compete on differentiated capabilities, but rather have to deal with competition from low overhead garage shops and start ups.

    The high end higher technology machines will sell in lower volumes but offer unique competitive advantages and capabilities. If you need a Tsugami S207 or TMU1 to machine your part complete and competitively, no low cost, third world built machine will be able to do it, no matter how well known the brand name on the side.

    If you look at Haas in the VMC market segment, it’s hard not to respect what they’ve accomplished. They sell lower cost VMC’s that address about 70-80% of the work in the market. They sell them in huge volumes. The flip side is that those machines drive down prices because you end up competing with a guy who picks up a used one and is running in his garage, pole barn, or tiny rented space at a very low rate.

    I think some builders will continue to push the technology envelope and others will focus on building low cost machines to sell in volume here in the US and in even greater volume in places like China. Some will try to do both.

    6) Who knows? The US market is a tough nut to crack. Bigger OEM’s rely on the vendor’s ability to supply turnkey solutions, which is difficult to pull off when you are small and starting out.

    The broader job shop and contract machining market tend to be brand loyal and usually won’t change brands to save a couple of bucks on the machine price. They will change to gain competitive advantage and/or improved capability. Again a difficult proposition for a new brand.

    So they are stuck trying to gain a foot hold with users that are as new to Swiss as they are to building them.

    7) Some already are, some will never do work for automotive again, and some others are taking on automotive production for the first time. In any case we are a long way off from we used to be. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  5. Marc Klecka

    Using the A20VII and L20X as examples:

    The A20VII is standard with 4 live spindles, the L20X is standard with 13 live spindles. Each is a .8125″ capacity machine. The A20VII might be considered more mission specific (your term downscale?) with the L20X have more axes (Y-axis to sub-spindle) and infinite modular tooling configurations.

    You are also correct that the A20VII is cutting into the L-Series market, while the L-Series is now cutting into the highly productive M-Series market. The soon-to-be-released new M-Series will challenge one’s imagination.

    Visit Marubeni Citizen Booth #315 at PMTS to view the A20VII, L20X and (5) additional Citizen and Miyano models.

  6. Dr. F

    1) The phones went quiet the last week in march as the OPM (other peoples money) crowd in DC tried to figure out what to do. The next week was tax week then Passover and Easter, so nothing happens until 26Apr11. Sit tight.
    As for the swiss question, it is all about value added on the product that the machine makes. It also matters as to durability of the machine and simplicity for the operator.

  7. Bill Camloh

    I was working at the Shimada booth yesterday and a young guy with a flat-brimmed baseball cap came up to check out the machine. I wasn’t up on the latest hat style, and never noticed the “flat” brim before you mentioned it. Anyway, it was that flat brim that made me approach him and engage in conversation.

    This kid was highly enthusiastic about the industry. He started running 2-axis lathes and then was challenged with multi-axis swiss machines, and his next big challenge is multispindle machines. He surprised me with his passion and eagerness to learn. It was a refreshing discussion. If this is the next generation of machinists, we’re in for a good run!



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