an innovative range for industry

Home / Company / History



1861 : creation of SOMUA company

Société d’Outillage Mécanique et d'Usinage d'Artillerie

Etienne Bouhey created this company in 1861.

Mechanical toolings then kept on improving, thus leading to the creation to the first MACHINE TOOLS.


These machines were punching machines, shearing machines, shaping machines, taping machines, and, of course, lathes.
In addition to machine tools, the company SOMUA
started producing farming machines..

 SOMUA slotting machine
  SOMUA milling machine in 1936


In 1914, the company becomes part of the light artillery-machining program and of the manufacturing of Schneider trucks and tractors.

in 1936, it produces an articulated railcar,

In 1939, it produces a cab-over truck, then, in 1948, self-propelled locomotives for the SNCF, the French railway company.

In 1955, it brings together with Renault and the Latil car company to create the SAVIEM company.


SBMO = Société Bourbonnaise de Machines Outils

The SBMO operates a large plant, rue des Garceaux in MOULINS, where it produces production lathes.

1956: H. ERNAULT BATIGNOLLES strengthens, thanks to the company SBMO

The origin of the company H. ERNAULT BATIGNOLLES dates back to 1934, during the 30’s crisis, when the family company H. ERNAULT, in Batignolles-Châtillon (very active in both railway and arms industries) gets very close to Saint-Nazaire foundries.

Stock of Ernault Batignolles lathes   T-type Ernault lathe in 1927


Mister Henry Ernault, as a Centrale High School engineer, develops lathes, copying lathes, turret lathes, boring machines and small vertical milling machines.

1962: Creation of the company HES - Henry Ernault Somua

The merger of the company SOMUA MACHINE TOOLS and H. ERNAULT BATIGNOLLES gives birth to the company HES.  Moulins workshop, with 350 employes, is one of the 3 H. ERNAULT SOMUA cluster, thus leading to the design and the production of large capacity lathes in MOULINS, the JUPITER lathes.

HES Jupiter lathes produced between 1962 and 1980

These lathes will then evoluate :

  • Adaptation of the framework
  • CNC drive
  • Addition of covers
Lathes designed and manufactured in Moulins between 1981 and 1988

Framework of a H. Ernault Somua FLS40 lathe


H. Ernault Somua FLS40 lathe

Moulins site is dedicated to the manufacture of multi-axis CNC lathes have, for automatic loading and unloading of parts, sensors and other required technologies especially by the automotive sector, arming or aerospace secto.

1985 : Creation of SOMAB

Beginning in April 1985, TOYODA took over the company H ERNAULT SOMUA and gives birth to SOMAB, limited company with worker participation with  the new ERNAULT TOYODA company participation.

SOciété de Mécanique et d' Automatisme du Bourbonnais


SOMAB then develops RECONSTITUTED GRANITE-bed machines (granitan is a synthetic granite), sometimes supported by an aerated concrete, thus providing an actual qualitative value, both thermal and geometrical stability, vibration damping, to improve the quality of surface conditions, of machining and extending cutting tool lifespan.


1988: Development of a new concept

of milling/turning multifunction machines: POLYMAB



The UNIMAB lathe is dedicated to one-off order parts or to small production runs. It is fitted with the patented SOMAB teach-in feature.
The TRANSMAB lathe is designed to large production runs. It is fitted with a NUM CNC.

1993 : CATO, a holding company, takes a majority stake in SOMAB


In the same way, the CATO group takes control over four companies: CAZENEUVE, CINCINNATI, ERNAULT and SYDERIC.
Through these companies, CATO was, by then, the first French-held machine tool manufacturer, over its


Development of lathe ranges:

Expansion of SOMAB catalogue:

  • FU milling machines
  • DIAM machining centers
  • ALPHAMAB range

1999 :Development of the GENYMAB range

Multifunction machine

It combines : 

  • Milling
  • Turning

It is able to : 

  • Grind
  • achine inner/outr gears

This machining center minimizes fittings.

When using a dual-spindle bar-feeder, all parts are finished when they are taken out of the machine.

2002 : Development of the DELTAMAB range

New ergonomic and accurate modular lathes
that can be customized on request.
They use a reconstituted-granite base.

2009 : la société SPARK est l'actionnaire majoritaire de SOMAB

The Spark Group then gives right to SOMAB to access the Chinese market,

SPARK is a Chinese group that employs 2500 persons. It produces large horizontal and vertical lathe, up to Ø 6.3 m and to 24-meter tailstock. New facilities are built in Tianshui. They stretch over 800,000 m², all sheltered, and include 150 ton-capacity gantries.

2012 : SOMAB creates a super-precision TSP lathe, for SPARK

2013 :SOMAB becomes a member of the SYMOP It creates is own SOMAB channel on You Tube                       

2014 : Creation of SOMAB SHANGAÏ, a commercial subsidiary

2015 : A new project. A new organization