Norton targets productivity boost with new Mazak machine

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Norton Motorcycles is targeting a major productivity boost following the delivery of a new Yamazaki Mazak vertical machining centre.

The iconic motorcycle brand, based in Solihull in the West Midlands, has taken delivery of a Mazak VTC 800/30SLR vertical machining centre into its fabrication facility that is capable of machining an entire bike frame within the high capacity working area.

The new investment will be used to machine the fine detail onto the company’s bike frames; work that had previously required a manual process.

Adam Green, senior manufacturing process engineer at Norton Motorcycles said the machine will offer a major productivity boost. “We’re planning for a new manufacturing process, so instead of welding detailed components into the frame, our intention is to machine the details into the casting which gives us much improved quality control.”

He continued: “Previously with all the checking and adjusting, our output was limited. With the Mazak machine’s help we think we can manufacture three or four times as many and with more accuracy. The VTC is a big machine that can work to tight tolerances and we are confident it will have a major impact on our productivity.”

Norton was acquired by the Indian motorbike manufacturing giant, TVS, in 2020, a move that saved the company from the brink of bankruptcy. The machine will be housed in Norton’s state-of-the-art production facility in Solihull that also includes a new global design and R&D hub.

The VTC 800 series of machines were specifically designed for European machine tool users and are manufactured at Mazak’s only European Manufacturing site in Worcester. The highly successful machine has a travelling column design with full 5-axis capability making it ideal for the machining of complex features and contours.

Alan Mucklow, managing director UK, Eire and National Distributors at Yamazaki Mazak, commented: “The VTC-800/30SLR is an excellent choice for Norton’s frame machining requirements as it is a highly versatile machine capable of working with large components such as bike frames, but at the same time able to be utilised for complex detail work.

“Norton Motorcycles is an iconic British manufacturing brand and we are delighted to be partnering with the company as it looks to bring advanced manufacturing techniques into its Solihull production facility.”