Sheffield company helps Takumi

Posted on 13 Nov 2017 and read 282 times
Sheffield company helps Takumi After spending the early part of his engineering career in Japan working for Fujitsu, Gerry Reynolds returned to his native Ireland to manage the company’s machining operations in Dublin.

At the time, Fujitsu had excess capacity, so the decision was taken to bring in sub-contract work.

The experience of operating a sub-contract business from within a global manufacturing company prompted Mr Reynolds to start his own company; in 1998, he formed Takumi Precision Engineering (Takumi being the Japanese for artisan) (www.takumiprecision.com).

The company supplied precision-machined parts to the semiconductor and automotive sectors; it also provided a general tool-making service from its 3,000ft2 factory.

Within three years, this was full to capacity, and Mr Reynolds reckoned that both expansion and a change of direction were necessary.

In 2002, Takumi moved to its current premises in Limerick and focused its attention on the medical sector — and gaining ISO 9001 accreditation.

Mr Reynolds said: “This move and gaining ISO 9001 saw us gather momentum in the medical sector and win customers such
as Stryker, Boston Scientific, Donovan Medical and Medtronic.

"We were developing into what I saw as a medical-device company. Our position was enhanced in 2005, when we gained ISO 13485 — the medical-device accreditation.”

The medical side of the business grew, as did its machining capability; but Mr Reynolds recognised that with medical representing 80-90% of the company’s turnover, this sector could not meet its ambition to grow by 10-20% year on year.

In 2012, attention turned to Ireland’s fledgling aerospace sector. Initially, work came in via sub-contractors; this brought Takumi to the attention of Bombardier (for approval purposes) and led to work being placed directly by the aircraft manufacturer for its C-series commercial-aircraft project.

“Bombardier needed new suppliers, and we responded. It was a steep learning curve, but the more we learnt, the more we were able to take on; and through investment in five-axis machining, training and technology, we were soon taking on up to 20 new parts a week, building a portfolio of not only C-series parts but also ‘legacy’ components.”

The investment made for aerospace included 20 new machine tools in a five-year period, half of which were five-axis machining centres.

Takumi has also gained AS9100 and SC21 Bronze accreditation (SC21 is a programme designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace and defence industry by raising the performance of its supply chains), and it plans to achieve SC21 Silver in 2018 — along with an expansion of the factory from 25,000 to 35,000ft2.

Its turnover stands at 6.3 million euros, with 60% of that coming from aerospace. Mr Reynolds now sees the business as an aero-space specialist rather than a medical-device company, but medical remains an important part of the business.

The move to aerospace production saw typical batch sizes of 5- to 10-off, so maximising efficiency was key to success.

Mr Reynolds says: “We needed to reduce the number of times the machine door was opened by maximising the table capacity and loading multiple parts; we also looked at cycle-time reduction — and here we relied on our tooling suppliers to assist us.”

Sheffield-based WNT (UK) Ltd (www.wnt. com) became a supplier to Takumi, initially for its ability to guarantee next-day delivery for cutting tools.

The relationship between the two companies quickly developed into a partnership, with WNT’s technical sales engineer Jerry Warren and applications engineer Shane O’Donnell working alongside Takumi’s engineers to develop new machining strategies to improve cycle times and processes, as well as provide training for its operators.

“Training and education are key to our success, and we encourage progression from within. As a result, we have never advertised for a manager but have promoted people into positions of responsibility,” says Mr Reynolds.

“The fact that WNT is willing to spend time training our people on the fundamentals of tooling — both in the classroom and at the machine — is a bonus for us.

"This is just one of the strengths of WNT; another is its tool-vending machines, which we use to hold our consignment stock. They also give us detailed reports on who has used what tools and on which jobs; this helps us to manage project costs.”

There is now a concerted effort by a small group of sub-contractors in Ireland to make the world aware of the aerospace capabilities of the manufacturing sector there.

Takumi is a founder member of Emerald Aerospace, a group of like-minded engineering businesses working together to promote Ireland as a centre of excellence for aerospace manufacturing.

Emerald Aerospace will be the point of contact, with customers receiving one invoice, irrespective of which member undertakes the work.

In conclusion, Mr Reynolds says: “For many years, Ireland has had limited exposure to the aerospace sector, making growth hard to come by, but with Emerald Aerospace, we have a cluster of companies with accreditation and amazing capability, allowing us to make the world aware of Ireland’s aerospace capability.”

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