Citizen Watch Company’s Citizen Machinery division installs its 50,000th CNC sliding head turn-mill centre in Europe.
Citizen Machinery, the world’s largest manufacturer of CNC sliding head turn-mill centres has installed its 50,000th machine in Europe following its entry into the market in 1971. It was Citizen that pioneered the development and application of numerical control (NC) in 1965 and CNC systems in 1970 to an area of machine technology that was previously driven by mechanical cam systems with the objective to achieve higher levels of productivity in the manufacture of components for its watch division.
In January, Citizen Machinery UK based in Bushey, Watford, took over responsibility for eight European countries to create a second European hub for the Japanese lathe builder. As a result it now provides service and dealer support to Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. A similar hub exists in Germany to support the rest of Europe.
The Citizen Watch Company, founded in 1930 is the world’s largest producer of watches and watch movements with production averaging over 300 million units a year.
In 1941, Citizen built its first machine tool in Japan and its first cam-driven automatic lathe the C-7 in 1957. During 1965 it started development work on the first NC conversion of a sliding head lathe for watch components, and by 1970 led the field by introducing the first CNC sliding head lathe in the world. The Citizen D-16 won the coveted Gold Award at the Leipzig International Trade Fair the following year.
With the success of the D-16 and such high levels of interest developing in Europe, Citizen appointed NC Engineering as its dealer for the UK in 1974 and the following year set the company on a road to its current market leading position as it chalked up another ‘first’. In that year the E-32 was launched as the first CNC controlled compound precision sliding head lathe with C-axis spindle and driven tools. From this machine, trend-setting, progressive, high productivity sliding head turn-milling technology has been developed for components up to 32 mm diameter.
Setting out its marketing strategy for Europe against a backdrop of market leading sales, Citizen Machinery in Japan acquired NC Engineering in 2006 – the same year the 1,000th Citizen machine was installed in the UK. In 2008, as a wholly owned subsidiary, NC Engineering changed its name to Citizen Machinery UK under managing director Geoff Bryant and the UK operation was established as the European model from which future customer sales and support would be based.