Ford Engineering partners Gateshead College

Ford Engineering Group has chosen Gateshead College to deliver apprenticeships, workforce development programmes and traineeships as part of plans to upskill its existing staff and create engineering career opportunities for young people.

The first apprentices have already started, splitting their time between Ford Engineering’s sites across the region and the college’s Team Valley-based Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics – a £5.5m purpose built facility that has seen recent investment of more than £300,000 in machinery and tooling.
For further information www.gateshead.ac.uk

100+ attend Dugard open house

More than 100 people attended Dugard’s recent two-day open house at the company’s headquarters in Hove. Many came from subcontract firms specialising in sectors such as automotive, aerospace, medical and general engineering, although representatives from a several large OEMs were also in attendance. The company says that 11 orders for machines were placed at the event, with lots of strong leads collected.

Dugard vertical machining centres proved popular, including the company’s range of five-axis models. Indeed, two five-axis machines were officially unveiled at the event: the large-capacity Dugard X5-800 and the X5-320. A number of turning machines were also introduced, including the Dugard 52SY Swiss-type CNC lathe, Dugard i42U production CNC lathe and Samsung SL2500bSY CNC lathe with Siemens control.
For further information www.dugard.com

More Fanuc machines installed at Alan Spargo

Alan Spargo Ltd in High Wycombe has chosen to invest in two new Fanuc wire erosion machines. Established in 1975, the company offers two core services: a press tool service and a subcontract machining service, which includes grinding and EDM.

“Despite having 20 years’ experience of working with Fanuc machines, we fully investigated the marketplace when we began looking for new technology,” says director Peter Spargo. “However, the Fanuc machines remained on top, so we stuck with what we knew.”
The company purchased two Fanuc Robocut 600iA wire models, a decision that was heavily influenced by the service, longevity and overall performance of existing Fanuc machines at Alan Spargo. That said, there were additional factors that helped steer the decision.
“When comparing the Fanuc brand against other machines, one important factor was the level of accuracy that could be achieved,” says Spargo. “We do a lot of motorsport work and high-precision, multi-stage tooling, for which accuracy is critical. When operating the new Fanuc machines, we can achieve tolerances of ±3 µm. Another consideration was the reliability of the machines, which makes them ideal for unmanned operations.
“We can monitor the machines from a mobile phone or tablet when we aren’t on the premises,” he continues. “This has been particularly useful for the guys who come in and out over the weekend to keep the machines running. When we are busy, we are probably running the machines for 400-500 hours a week, so uptime is critical.”
For further information www.fanuc.eu

Citizen fits the bill at Roscomac

Some 1.5 million parts are despatched every year from Worthing-based precision subcontract machinist Roscomac, a company that is achieving record on-time deliveries of 98%. The 85-employee company is driven by a philosophy of constant development and lean manufacturing techniques, supported by investment often exceeding £1m per annum.

Says managing director Joe Martello: “We invest in automation and the latest production technologies, which helps to overcome the shortage of skills we require. However, it is so important that we still need to grow our own engineers through constant support and training, in order to maximise our ROI and improve how we support and what we deliver to customers.”
In the first six months of 2017, some £750,000 had already been allocated or spent, which included the installation of the latest Miyano BNE-51MSY multi-axis turn-mill centre. Two further CNC sliding head turn-mill centre machines have also been ordered and are soon to be delivered; again, like the Miyano, each is from Citizen Machinery UK. The two machines, a Citizen L20-VIII LFV (LFV featuring low frequency vibration cutting technology) and a top-of-the-range M16-V will bring the total Citizen installations to 14 machines as two earlier Citizen models are being sold.
“The levels of operational flexibility in the Miyano BNE has enabled us to significantly reduce machining times and, most importantly, improve overall productivity,” says cell leader Sean Keet. He explains that the new machine has replaced existing three-axis machines and outlines how a family of 10 aluminium parts has seen four previous turning and a separate milling operation reduced to just one turn-milling cycle. A bonus is that average total cycle times per part have been cut from 13 to just 2.5 minutes. Indeed, a further complex stainless steel component, which had three operations taking 11 minutes, is now reduced to a single 4-minute cycle.
The flexibility of the BNE-51MSY is key to what cell supervisor Warren Harris, responsible for the machine, is achieving. Specified with high-pressure coolant, Kid 80 bar feed, hybrid chuck and latest Wizard programming aid, the machine is capable of single-cycle cutting with three tools simultaneously overlapped at both ends of a workpiece.

“The configuration of the three- and two-axis turrets gives us the flexibility to develop an application and room to add toolholders to overcome problems such as selective and controlled in-cycle deburring, for instance,” says Harris. “This saves us additional manual or further operational deburring tasks.”
He describes how the training given by Citizen Machinery helped in developing different approaches to setting the operational cycles: “We had an initial induction at our works and two of us were sent for programming at Citizen’s headquarters in Watford. Then, after two months, and adding to our own in-house experiences, further in-depth training was given.”
He maintains this helped to build a working relationship: “Even now, if we have a question or problem, we text or email the application team and they quickly come back to discuss the issue.”
The family-owned business of Roscomac was set up in 1976 on an industrial estate of 21 units owned by Martello’s father Fernando, who is still involved with the company. However, the company grew so fast that by 1999, subcontract production filled 20 of the 21 units.
The site was then sold and the current 43,000 sq ft factory was constructed on a 2-acre site in Worthing. Indeed, with planning permission granted, in 2018 a 3800 sq ft extension will be added and a complete new roof installed over the facility. As part of the drive to maintain quality (AS9100 approved) and improve the working environment, climate control has recently been installed across the factory which maintains a constant 22°C.
Today, some 50 CNC machine tools are installed, including 13 Citizen CNC sliding-head turn-mill centres and a large 104 pallet FMS. There are also 17 machining centres in the plant involved in supplying the medical (20% of £6.5 million turnover) aerospace (12%) vacuum technology, oil and gas, motion and hydraulics, and nuclear sectors. A number of different materials are machined, ranging from plastics through to alloy steels such as Inconel. Parts are also exported to France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Martello adopts the same working relationships with machine tool and equipment suppliers as most of his long-term customers maintain with him and his team. This means his key equipment is only bought from a small group of ‘partnership’ suppliers in which Citizen Machinery UK (formerly NC Engineering) has participated since 1990. In that time the company has installed 16 sliding-head and two Miyano fixed-head turn-mill centres, plus the two Citizen machines now on order.

“Our relationship with customers is built on support, quality and on-time supply,” says Martello. “Suppliers such as Citizen are in the same category, with the added capability to be consistent in providing us with leading technology developments that will keep us competitive and enable us to properly service our customer base. The coming installation of the Citizen L20-VIIILFV is a classic case in providing a level of technology which will take us into another sphere of manufacturing that few competitors will be able to match for some time to come.”
Current batch sizes at Roscomac range from 30-off to thousands of parts, while a prototype and process development/design support service is also offered. In addition, the company maintains stock for key customers, which provides a major benefit when tailoring batch work to economic quantity levels and helps achieve a 98% on-time delivery target. As a result, this statistic has been improved over the last four years from levels of around 60%. Indeed, with productivity targets now running at 200% of man-hours available, this has been aided by setting up five overlapping shifts during the week in order to maximise machine utilisation and spindle uptime.
To help maintain momentum of production with the workforce, every 3 months employees are taken aside to a conference room for presentations made by Martello and key staff members for a business update which encourages open communication. These sessions are backed-up with live screens around the factory area showing current workloads and status of workflow, and target and actual delivery dates achieved.
“This keeps everyone aware and involved,” he concludes. “It also draws comment and constructive suggestions for improvement.”
For further information www.citizenmachinery.co.uk

Erodex appoints dedicated export manager

EDM graphite and tooling specialist Erodex has appointed a dedicated export manager after achieving a record 54% growth in export sales. The move follows a string of new contract wins with clients in countries including Israel and the opening of a new $2m tooling facility in Virginia, USA.

Director Steve Rolinson says: “As a result of high levels of demand for our graphite products and tooling solutions overseas, we are looking to continue growing export sales and exploring new markets. We have already seen evidence of this over the past 12 months and we believe that now is the right time to appoint a dedicated export manager.”
In addition to managing the day-to-day operations within a newly established department, Laura Collins will ensure that Erodex fully complies with HMRC regulations and those within the diverse range of non-EU countries to which Erodex exports.
“I have always worked in an international trade environment, primarily in export and with a focus on implementing processes and procedures,” she says. “Export sales at Erodex are growing quickly, accounting for an ever increasing amount of overall turnover, meaning that it makes sense to establish a dedicated export department to manage this work. Different countries come with their own complexities or requirements, and as a team we are now well placed to deal with these and play our part in facilitating the growth in overseas trade during what is an exciting time for the company. I am delighted to be on board and very much looking forward to the future.”
For further information www.erodex.com