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Schaumburg tech workers prepare to help in Japan

Workers at metal-cutting machine maker Mazak Corp.’s Midwestern headquarters and technology center in Schaumburg awaited word Monday whether volunteers would travel to Japan to help their colleagues at technology centers in Sendai and Tsukuba, which suffered damage but no known deaths from the earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Mazak Corp. is a subsidiary of Yamazaki Mazak Corp., a family-owned company headquartered near Nagoya, Japan, that operates five technology centers and five manufacturing plants in Japan.

Mazak President Brian Papke said the company’s North American division is readying teams to go to Japan to get back in business the owners of manufacturing and machine shops whose Mazak-made machines are destroyed or damaged.

The company has 6,000 such machines throughout the devastated region, used in industries as diverse as aerospace, autos, construction equipment and the medical manufacturing of artifical hips and knees.

“Everyone in Japan will be touched by this tragic event in some way,” said Papke, who has traveled to Japan, by his estimate, 60 times.

Papke said the company, which employs 70 in Schaumburg and more than 4,000 in Japan, is assessing whether certain shipping ports will be shuttered or components makers delayed due to the disaster.

Elsewhere, auto manufacturers Toyota, Nissan and Honda and Japan’s seven big automakers suspended production in Japan, and technology equipment company Texas Instruments said it would reintroduce production in stages at its silicon-wafer manufacturing site in Miho, which suffered substantial damage, according to newswire reports.

Demand for oil is expected to skyrocket as Japan recovers, and Papke said that will boost business for Mazak from on-shore drilling rigs that use the company’s machines.

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