CNC Machine Tools News

What is Mazak's role in Industry 4.0?

The pressure to increase productivity, quality and to supply more and more information to customers…

… from machine utilisation rates through to 3D simulations of 5-axis programmes, is already filtering down the supply chain to even the smallest machine shop.

For this reason, Mazak has developed Smooth Technology, a CNC that has the capability to bring the Industry 4.0 principles of connectivity, productivity and data analytics into any manufacturing plant, factory or machine shop.

Smooth Technology can act as the catalyst for the introduction of Industry 4.0. At its core is the ability to gather and analyse data, enabling the factory floor and management suite to make better, faster decisions, improving yield and speeding up production.

Crucially, it is entirely scalable. As production increases and new machines or automation equipment are introduced, Smooth Technology can be quickly scaled up to match the new requirements of the organisation.

In an Industry 4.0 factory every aspect of production is connected, monitored and analysed, from production scheduling through to virtual simulation of the component to be cut, energy consumption, tool management and maintenance practices. The goal is to deliver more productivity and better quality products with less machine downtime.


mazak industry 4 0


Factory floor

The factory floor is the heart of the manufacturing process, but process inefficiencies all-too-often go undiagnosed and unrectified, contributing to poor productivity and quality issues.

Machine programming is one such area of inefficiency. Faulty programming can lead to reduced productivity, high scrappage rates and poor component quality.

One way of ensuring that the programme is correct prior to cutting is via the use of 3D simulation, which ensures that every aspect of the programme has been tested before machining is commenced. A high value subsea valve made from Inconel block, for example, can be reduced to scrap if the machine has been poorly programmed. Mazak’s Smooth Technology is equipped with Smooth Cam RS which performs fast and accurate programme verification by 3D simulation, including 5-axis programmes, providing accurate interference checks and set-up time reductions.

Within any machine shop or factory there is a constant need for smarter production processes that can unlock greater productivity. The use of data and analytics is one way that tool management can be significantly improved, with better tool utilisation, chip to chip time and reduced downtime.

Smooth Tool Management centrally manages the tool data in the machine shop, reducing downtime and increasing utilisation. The programme links with a tool pre-setter to automatically enter tool length and diameter offsets, whilst a tool ID chip is linked to a database to easily track the transfer of tools from magazine to machine.


Finding and employing skilled engineers and CNC machine tool operators can be an enormous problem.

When skilled employees can be found their abilities command high salaries, which inevitably increase the cost of production and decreases competitiveness.

Far better to focus human resources at highly skilled jobs and tasks, leaving automation equipment to fulfil more menial tasks, which in turn will increase efficiency and aid smarter production. But, greater automation must be allied to greater connectivity in order to unlock the potential of machines and automation working closely together.

Mazak’s Smooth Technology can act as the catalyst for closer co-operation between machines and automation equipment. The technology comes equipped with Smooth PMC, a management software for Mazak’s Palletech automation system that is capable of optimising the schedules based on manufacturing requirements and operator shift pattern.

The software creates prediction load requirements, simulates specific machine loading requirements, displays tools needed to perform tasks, displays actual results and identifies any overdue workpieces.

All of this information is displayed on the home screen or can be viewed remotely by mobile device or on an office PC, ensuring that key information is available to factory floor and management at any time or any place.

Production office and management suite

Information silos are one of the major areas of inefficiency in any manufacturing operation.

Those with management responsibility will make better decisions if they can access high quality, real time machine and production data.

With Industry 4.0, information silos are broken down and data can be quickly analysed and shared with all levels of an organisation, from factory floor to management suite, purchasing, finance and logistics.

Smooth Monitor breaks down information silos, by ensuring that operational results of each machine can be accessed by all the relevant people, using a LAN connection.

Smooth Monitor graphically represents the status of each machine and offers an overall visualisation of factory status. Dashboards can be displayed in the factory or monitored via a smartphone or other mobile device with key information, such as spindle load, available for analysis at all times.

Crucially, with Smooth Monitor, other manufacturers’ machines and equipment can be managed from the tablet. Smooth Monitor uses MTConnect, an open, royalty-free manufacturing communications protocol that has the ability to connect different machines and automation systems on the factory floor, enabling third party suppliers of equipment to connect with CNC systems, such as Smooth Technology.

The software facilitates communication between different manufacturing devices and software from different suppliers, enabling the implementation of Industry 4.0 principles that will ultimately generate productivity improvements.

ERP and energy performance

The ability of different systems, within a factory or machine shop, to connect and work together is central to the Industry 4.0 philosophy.

The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system lies at the very heart of most organisations, integrating core business processes, from product planning and procurement, through to manufacturing, inventory management and logistics.

It is vital therefore that the machines on the factory floor are connected to the ERP system. Mazak’s Smooth Technology has been specifically designed to work with ERP systems, to ensure that organisation can place the workings of individual machines into the overall production plan.

Smooth Scheduler automatically configures efficient production schedules which take into account multiple different parameters, including cycle times, batch numbers and workpieces in a lot. The software then prepares an optimum production plan, for multiple machines and multiple machining operations, offering complete visualisation of the factory floor and links into the ERP system.

The benefits include reduction in in-process inventory, fast responses to delivery deadlines, improved overviews of production capacity and increased machine utilisation.

In recent years, the issue of energy saving has become more important for machine tool users. Savings on energy translate directly to the cost of running the machine, have a major impact on profitability and a factory’s impact on the environment.

Mazak’s Smooth Technology is equipped with a Smooth Energy Dashboard that displays a range of power consumption metrics, including tonnage of CO2, electricity charges and daily peak power.


Maintaining machine uptime and productivity is vital and rests on the ability to accurately diagnose potential machinery problems in advance.

Every hour of machining time that is lost costs money and is damaging to customer relationships.

Modern maintenance practices are relying increasingly on planned and preventive maintenance techniques, such as condition monitoring, rather than reactive maintenance procedures, which are only actioned when a critical fault occurs.

Smooth Technology is equipped with a number of intelligent functions that can aid the diagnosis of machinery problems and ensure that maintenance support is focused and targeted to where it is really needed.

Smooth Spindle Analytics is a key tool in identifying the temperature, vibration and displacement of the spindle, providing data that can help prevent machine problems and reduce production loss.

Technicians can also remotely monitor a machine’s performance, identifying operational machine issues that can then be elevated to maintenance teams.


With the free-flow of data and open systems that is required for Industry 4.0 there are clear threats to security, particularly for those manufacturers operating in sensitive sectors, such as nuclear or aerospace, or with highly restricted customer agreements in place.

In response to these security concerns, Mazak has partnered with Cisco to develop the Smart Box state-of-the-art cyber security system.

The Smart Box provides advanced cyber security protection allied to exceptional analytical insight, including access to live data streams in cycle, feed rate reports and completion reports.

The Smart Box system can monitor data from any machine regardless of manufacturer, age or CNC and has the ability to provide greater throughput, faster decision making and higher productivity.

“Smart Box” for factory cyber security, analytics and monitoring.


  • Provides advanced cyber security protection by a state-of-theart Cisco networking platform and Layer3 Managed Switch industrialised for the factory environment.


  • Provides insight from utilisation of individual machines, to entire manufacturing cells.
  • Open standard provides freedom to choose any third-party analytical software platforms software.
  • Utilises FOG computing concept created by Cisco; extending cloud computing to the edge of an enterprise’s network. Also known as Edge Computing.


  • Monitors data from any machine regardless of manufacturer, age and CNC.
  • Yields higher throughput, increased ultisation and lowered downtime.
The iSmart factory

Mazak’s commitment to Industry 4.0 is not a concept or an aspiration.

Mazak’s commitment extends to building their iSmart factories, which take Industry 4.0 principles and apply them to Mazak’s own production facilities.

Their first iSmart factory in Oguchi in Japan became fully Industry 4.0 operational in early 2016 and subsequently Inabe, also in Japan, and Kentucky in the United States.

The iSmart factory concept takes Industry 4.0 principles and brings them alive using Smooth Technology to control every aspect of a factory’s operations, scheduling production, monitoring and analysing performance, and all the time sharing relevant information in a secure environment.

Mazak are taking the knowledge from implementing Industry 4.0 in their own iSmart factories and using it to drive innovation for customers. New machines, new CNC and new automation systems, connected together and not only driving productivity, but also driving Industry 4.0 principles through the supply chain.

Find out more about the Mazak CNC Production Support Software.


mazak ismart factory