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To Increase Productivity and Profits of Customers: Interview with Jacob Harpaz, Chairman and President of IMC Group

October 30, 2023

Jacob Harpaz
Chairman and President, IMC Group

IMC Group, one of the world’s leading suppliers of cutting tools, brings innovative tools to the market year after year. Mr. Jacob Harpaz, Chairman and President of the Group, asserts, “Our value is to offer a full line of cutting tools of all types under one umbrella.” What this really means is “increasing the productivity and profits of our customers,” he says.

– Please tell us about the current market situation.

Jacob Harpaz, Chairman and President of IMC Group

Jacob Harpaz, Chairman and President of IMC Group

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact. This has been particularly painful for automotive-related industries. In addition, global stagnation is continuing, and business conditions are tough. However, the biggest challenge for the manufacturing industry is the labor shortage. Both mechanical engineers and operators are in short supply. On the other hand, even in the automotive industry, electric vehicles (EVs) are not the only products being manufactured; gasoline and hybrid vehicles are also being produced by the same automakers and parts suppliers. There are also a wide range of other industries, such as aerospace, medical equipment and oil /gas industry, that require machining technology. And in terms of the total output of the world’s manufacturing industry, there may not have been a significant drop in production. Besides, no one knows where all this chaos is going. This is the biggest problem we face today.

– Since the COVID-19 pandemic, what has changed?

At EMO Hannover 2023, many tool manufacturers have canceled their exhibits. Behind these decisions is the evolution of Internet-related technologies. A lot of information is disseminated through videos and websites, and this may also have led to a decline in the number of visitors to the exhibition. However, the IMC Group exhibits at trade shows with a completely different concept than our competitors. The idea is to offer “a complete line of cutting tools and the latest technology under one umbrella”. Over the past few years, the IMC Group has been actively pursuing the acquisition of various cutting tool manufacturers, including NTK Cutting Tools in Japan. The goal is to become a manufacturer of a full line of cutting tools. This includes not only carbide tools, but also CBN, diamond and ceramic tools. It is IMC’s policy to offer every possible state-of-the-art technology to a variety of niche markets around the world.

– Why do you strive to offer a full line of all types of cutting tools?

This is because we want to provide the best products and applications for all types of machining needs, including niche machining, when our sales representatives visit a customer’s machining site. In the past, many customers tried to solve the assignments by themselves, but in recent years there has been a tremendous increase in the number of cases where our engineers and customers work together on projects. Our proposals vary depending on what kind of machine tools the customer has, and in some cases we even have to advise them on what kind of new machine tools need to be installed. In such cases, it is important to make suggestions that include reducing machining costs. If we respond to the customer’s needs and expectations, we have no choice but to continually improve our own technological capabilities. Customers choose our tools, and they increase their productivity and improve their profits. For a tool manufacturer to be successful, nothing else is possible.

– IMC group is constantly introducing innovative tools to the market. Please tell us about your development policy.

ISCAR's newly developed high-speed feed parting tools (courtesy photo)

ISCAR’s newly developed high-feed parting tools (courtesy photo)

For example, ISCAR, the core company of IMC, invests about 4% of its sales revenue in development each year. There is certainly a problem that even when new tools are developed, they are soon reverse engineered by competitors. However, considering that copying is inevitable, IMC’s policy is not to stop innovation. After all, the honest desire of customers who choose us is to “stay ahead of their competitors” since they are also competing. They would rather work with us than who makes copy tools since we are known for bringing innovative products. Thus, many of our customers are looking for original tools to stay ahead of their competitors.

– Please tell us about your latest tools.

2.ISCAR's other newly developed 3- blade flute drill with indexable carbide heads (courtesy photo)

ISCAR’s other newly developed 3-flute drill with indexable carbide heads (courtesy photo)

ISCAR’s LOGIQ F GRIP” parting tool cuts through 100 mm diameter material at an extremely high feed rate of 7.5 seconds. ISCAR began developing parting tools in 1978, and the record at that time was 4.5 minutes. Since then, we have continued to advance our technology and have now achieved the record 7.5 second time with vibration suppression and improved chip evacuation. We are also strengthening our range of drills and an exciting new product is the “LOGIQ 3CHAM” three-flute drill. A three- flute drill with indexable carbide heads may sound very unique. It is capable of drilling cutting edges from 12mm to 25.9mm in diameter and from 1.5xD (ratio of tool diameter to drilling depth) to 8xD in depth. We intend to expand the product line more and more in the future.

(Interviewer: Shu Yasumi, Editor-in-Chief)


Jacob Harpaz

Chairman and President of IMC Group. Graduate of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, U.S.

About IMC Group

IMC stands for International Metalworking Companies. As a subsidiary of the U.S. investment company Berkshire Hathaway, the IMC Group is one of the world’s top-selling manufacturers of cutting tools. Major manufacturers include ISCAR of Israel, Tungaloy of Japan, TaeguTec of Korea, and Ingersoll of the United States and Germany, as well as many other tool manufacturers in specialized fields are part of the group.


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