By Lynn Stanley

Above: Nidec acquired Arisa S.A., in 2015. Shown is a 1,600-ton Arisa servo press.

Press builder expands in response to trends for region specific manufacturing and service

October 2016 - Ohio has a storied history. The Buckeye State is the birthplace of aviation and a hotbed for inventions like the cash register, the first electric self-starter for automobiles and the first electric railway powered with electric lines above the train. It is also a leading source for primary and fabricated metal, among other products. 

One supplier, not much older than the state it resides in, also has a notable narrative of equipment advances and leadership. Press builder and technology provider Nidec Minster Corp., formerly Minster Machine Co., started as a blacksmith shop in 1896 in Minster, Ohio. It built the world’s first transfer press in the 1930s and was the first to offer box crown press construction. 

Over the last four years, the company has made some bold moves to expand its global footprint in the machinery, automation and services marketplace while holding fast to its values.

Nidec-Shimpo, a division of Nidec Corp., Kyoto, Japan, whose revenues topped $11.2 billion last year, acquired the privately held Minster Machine in April 2012.  In August 2015, Nidec Minster acquired Arisa S.A., a large-press manufacturer in Logrono, Spain, in order to expand its presence in Europe.  

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Nidec Minster world headquarters in Minster, Ohio.

Moving forward

Nidec Minster’s long-term platform for growth reflects its sensitivity to stampers’ needs. “Right now the industry in general is fairly strong both in North America and globally,” says Jim Schulte, general manager for servo and contract products at Nidec Minster. 

“In the last decade alone, the word ‘global’ has been redefined for both stampers and their customers,” he adds.  

Grand View Research estimated the global metal stamping market size at $120.8 billion in 2014. Consumption patterns identified automotive, consumer appliances, electrical and electronics, telecommunications and aerospace as markets with the biggest appetites for metal. The automotive, consumer electronics and industrial machinery markets were expected to drive increased sheet metal use along with processes like blanking, embossing, bending, coining and flanging. According to the report, blanking alone was valued at over $30 billion in 2014 and is expected to see continued growth due to automotive and aerospace market demands.

“Relative to stamping, automotive is the 800-lb. gorilla in the room,” affirms Schulte. “In the past, core customers for North America were stampers. Now these same companies have manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia. Conversely, European and Asian stampers have manufacturing facilities in North America. The automotive market has been largely responsible for this expansion because it’s not economically viable to ship products around the world.”

The change for stampers also applies to shipping and servicing large stamping presses from afar.  “Local manufacturing is key,” says Schulte.  “Suppliers are now expected to produce region-specific equipment. As little as 10 years ago we manufactured every product right here in Minster. And even though we had presses in 84 countries, the speed of the marketplace—coupled with the capital investment needed for the kind of global demand we were seeing—was beyond the reach of a private company. Today as Nidec Minster, we have manufacturing and customer service facilities in the United States, Europe, Asia and Mexico that provide region-specific solutions to manufacturers all over the world.”

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Presses are assembled at the Arisa manufacturing facility in Logroño, Spain.

While Nidec Minster’s size and reach have changed, its products have not become diluted. The company’s 120-year history demonstrates machines that have stood the test of time. “We’re not all things to all people,” Schulte says. “We build highly specialized, high-quality systems. This business model helps our customers thrive in a competitive environment.”

Ducks in a row

Nidec Minster organized its manufacturing facilities similarly and that is, in part, because the ROI formula is different. “Equipment ROI doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the uptime to make the parts you need,” Schulte notes. “It comes down to whether or not the machine is going to run, if it will make good parts and whether or not appropriate service and support is available. This fundamental formula for productivity doesn’t go out of style for companies that are successful.”

The Spanish press building factory shoulders production for the large Arisa transfer presses from 1,200 to 4,500 tons. “Imagine transporting a press that size,” says Schulte. “It can be done, but that isn’t the question. It doesn’t help the customer in terms of lost dollars, which is why we have manufacturing operations on three continents.”

High-speed, low-tonnage presses capable of 1000 strokes per minute is the specialty of the Kyori product line manufactured in the company’s Asian facilities. The Minster, Ohio factory produces high-performance progressive die and transfer presses.  Yet, all three   facilities can and do build all manner of Nidec Minster’s broad product offering. “We’ve put manufacturing close to our customers to give them the service and support they need,” he says. “We’ve also retained the technological expertise of each of these facilities.”

Customers demand engineering know-how from their machinery suppliers as they grapple with the wide diversity of materials they are required to process. High-strength steel has become commonplace, making way for a new breed of advanced high-strength steels with MPa ratings reaching 1100. Demand for aluminum has soared. The different properties of these materials dictate how they respond during processing. Stampers are challenged to adapt and keep pace with materials technologies that are changing quickly.

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A high-speed Kyori ANEX-60 press in production. Kyori is a Nidec company.

The need for higher efficiency and greater flexibility also points metalformers toward press advances like servo. Nidec Minster shipped its first servo press in 2012; the Arisa plant delivered its first servo press three years earlier.

According to Schulte, automakers still use mechanical presses to perform progressive die work in the 200- to 400-strokes-per-minute range. “Mechanical presses are still a big player in the automotive industry and we don’t see that changing,” he says. “But servo presses have captured close to 50 percent of the market share. The servo market has evolved significantly just in the last five years as manufacturers look for higher performance levels. We expect to see this trend continue.”

Nidec Minster builds its servo presses on a solid mechanical platform. “Metal stamping is still a violent process,” says Schulte. “Servo offers different ways to mitigate those forces during processing but you still need a robust, well-built press that can withstand the forces generated by the ram.”

The company also builds its systems with integrated controls giving customers the ability to monitor and collect data beyond basic tonnage monitoring areas such as temperature and vibration. “We’ve provided this type of monitoring for a long time.”

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Minster’s FX2-600 servo press is among the types of machinery that will meet market demands for high precision automotive and aerospace blanks around the world.

Ahead of the curve

The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) or Industry 4.0 is one trend Nidec Minster was well prepared for before the disruptive movement hit mainstream awareness. The equipment supplier’s  servo presses offer a closed-loop system that can monitor and gather data as well as recapture lost energy. The control platform allows customers to interconnect its presses and glean meaningful feedback in real time for more rapid, informed decision making. “It’s the difference between understanding how much power it takes to make a part versus a stamper just looking at their energy bill at the end of the month,” says Schulte.

He feels that the industry-wide recognition IoT continues to receive has helped push customer awareness of the need for meaningful data and the important role it plays in bottom line profits today.

“It’s encouraging to see customers begin to acknowledge and accept this technology,” adds Schulte. “We’ve had the tools to do this for a long time. We’ve just been waiting for customers to embrace it.” FFJ



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