THK is taking major steps to meet the growing worldwide demand for linear motion products. In fact, as the world leader in linear motion guides, THK has recently invested over a half-billion dollars in new brick and mortar facilities that will increase floor space for their global manufacturing operations to just under 10.5 million square feet. In the United States alone, THK has increased the number of components shipped by 30% over the last two years, with strategic production increases made to date as they focus worldwide to keep up with a demand for linear motion products that reached a 10-year high in 2017.
Orders for linear motion guides, components that enable machine tools to perform precise positioning operations in industries that include aerospace, machine tool, packaging and medical, increased by 31.6% in 2017. This figure far surpassed the industry forecast of 8%, and late in the year supplies began to tighten as demand for these vital manufacturing components exceeded production capacity. THK, the company that first commercialized linear motion technology in 1972, took a strategic look at how to work expeditiously to fill existing orders and to positively address the long-term need to expand manufacturing to satisfy customer orders.
Committed to investing in the future, THK is expanding production with a capital investment of over a half-billion dollars at manufacturing facilities in Yamagata, Japan and in Vietnam and adding a 366,000 square foot facility in India. This will increase THK production by an additional 30% once all expansions are fully in place. To enable increased production while maintaining a high standard of precision and accuracy associated with their products, THK is also automating processes at existing facilities, including at their U.S. manufacturing plant in Ohio. To assist in meeting customer demand for linear motion products, THK has further invested in research and development of its industry-leading LM components as well as in human resources. The company has grown from around 9,000 employees in 2014 to over 13,000 in 2017.