Mark Bevan has built his successful machining business based on the three factors that define successful sub-contracting: the ability to deliver high-quality parts, at the right price and always on time; and for Dorset-based MJB Precision Engineering, now in its 25th year, Mr Bevan says that attaining — and retaining — that ‘holy grail’ of sub-contract supply has meant focusing on customer needs.
“Establishing close partnerships, investing in specific machines to meet specific needs and providing a consistent and expert level of applications engineering has ensured that both MJB and its clients benefit from continual improvement,” confirms Mr Bevan, adding that this philosophy has not only gained the 12-employee company accreditation to the AS9100 and ISO 9001 industry and quality standards but also led to many customer accolades — including “you are a world-class supplier” — relating to the supply of batches that can vary from 25-off to several thousand components from 3 to 300mm in diameter and up to 250mm long.
Mr Bevan said: “Achieving superlative levels of component quality, price and delivery, as well as working with consignment stock and just-in-time supply, is almost taken for granted nowadays, so any sub-contract operation that wants to stand out and continually win new business must bring other USPs to the table.
“We align ourselves with customers and work very closely with them.
“Moreover, we never say ‘no’, and we have no hesitation in working all night for urgent jobs, if need be — plus we often machine workpieces in materials that others avoid, including hardened steels.
“Above all, we invest in the appropriate high-class machinery and supporting equipment to suit specific components and contracts, while also ensuring that every machine is versatile enough to undertake any future new work from, perhaps, different industry sectors.”
It is a philosophy that today sees MJB’s shopfloor housing a wide range of high-quality machinery for both shaft-type and prismatic workpieces, with much of the turning/turn-mill capacity featuring bar feeders or gantry loaders — the latter including a pair of Takisawa Japan turning centres.
Mr Bevan said: “There’s no denying that on occasions in the past we have invested in what are best described as ‘quick fix’ machines — machines of relatively lower cost — but these have always let us down in the end, primarily in terms of consistency of output, which is totally against the principles of successful sub-contracting.
“We need to know that every component we produce is going to be correct; there is no room for process unreliability when working with high-value materials where scrap is very expensive and material supply is not always immediate, meaning that any hiccup in machining processes could lead to missed deliveries.
“Moreover, with automated systems for bar and billet feed for unmanned and overnight working, it is imperative that machines always hold their consistency, day in and day out.
“There is no doubt that, in terms of machine quality and performance, you get what you pay for.”
The two Takisawa Japan machines, supplied by Sheffield-based TW Ward CNC Machinery Ltd (Ward CNC — www.wardcnc.com
) are a case in point.
Mr Bevan said: “We have had experience of Takisawa Japan machines stretching back for 15 years or more, and our team are well-versed in their Fanuc CNC systems, so when we needed to expand our turning-centre capacity in response to new contract demands, we had no hesitation in investing in the brand.
“Also of importance was the fact that Ward CNC held the machines in stock (machines valued at more than £10 million are currently available from Ward CNC’s Sheffield and Redditch showrooms); and sub-contractors, especially, appreciate the ready availability of machines to meet upsurges in order books.
“The machines were initially purchased to satisfy specific machining tasks, including the production of an aircraft power component that is produced in batches of 50 to 100-off from 52100 — a high-carbon, chromium low-alloy steel that is through-hardening and noted in particular for use in bearings.
“However, such is the flexibility of these machines in terms of spindle operation and capacity — the newer machine (the TCC1100GA) can accommodate workpiece diameters and lengths of 220mm and 171mm respectively — that they are ideal for additional new work.”
The TT2000G has twin 8in chucks driven at speeds up to 3,200rev/min; the TCC1100GA has a 6in chuck and offers spindle speeds up to 5,000rev/min.
He added: “Both machines have billet loaders that offer transfer rates of 120m/min — another major factor in their purchase, as the loaders enable us to process work much more efficiently than having to manually handle such workpieces.
“Furthermore, our machinists find that the Fanuc control makes it easy to use the machine without the gantry loader, perhaps running one spindle manually and the other spindle in conjunction with gantry-loaded parts.
“This is simply achieved via the Fanuc loader screen — without altering machining programs.”