'Rising like the Phoenix’

Nacom Automation sees its business grow thanks to a machining investment strategy

Posted on 17 Feb 2020 and read 770 times
'Rising like the Phoenix’Nacom Automation Ltd and its range of Flexopress printers ‘rose from the ashes of liquidation’ when current owner Nick Cadby (a creditor to the original owner of the printing machine business) realised that the only way to get his money back was to buy the intellectual property and resurrect the business; this included undertaking machining in-house, which he did in conjunction with XYZ Machine Tools.

Nacom and Flexopress are complementary, with Nacom designing and developing industrial automation control systems that are integral to the flexographic printers, while Flexopress undertakes the design, build and installation of flexographic printing systems.

These printers are used in many industries to deliver ‘printed packaging solutions’ found in high-volume consumer applications.

Flexopress machines are designed and built to order, which means that parts must be designed and manufactured quickly.

However, the company’s reliance on sub-contract machining was causing delays, prompting Mr Cadby to bring machining in-house — “a daunting task, given my limited machining experience”, but one that was simplified by his introduction to the ProtoTrak machine tool control system from Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (www.xyzmachinetools.com).

Mr Cadby said: “It was while visiting another business run by a friend that I saw an XYZ 2-OP machine, and my curiosity was aroused.

“The compact nature of the machine seemed to be perfect for our initial requirements, so I gathered up a few drawings and visited XYZ Machine Tools’ showroom, where I was shown just how easy it is to make a wide variety of parts using the ProtoTrak control — a system that seamlessly fills the gap between an experienced CNC programmer and someone with basic machining skills like myself.”

Self-sufficiency


As a result of that visit, a 2-OP portable vertical machining centre became Nacom’s first step along the road to self-sufficiency.

It was quickly followed by an SMX 5000 bed mill, then an SLX 355 ProTurn lathe and an LPM vertical machining centre — with the common thread being that all these machines featured a version of the ProtoTrak control.

Nacom Automation ‘rising like the Phoenix’The mix of machines — from the 2-OP with its eight-position tool-changer and 457 x 381mm table and the LPM vertical machining centre through to the largest bed mill in the XYZ range with 1,524mm of X-axis travel — gives Nacom the milling capacity to handle any parts required for its own production.

Similarly, the capacity of the ProTurn lathe — with its 360mm swing over the bed and 1,000mm between centres — provides the necessary turning capacity.

Mr Cadby says that because Nacom is a relatively small business that can respond quickly and efficiently to customer demand, it can compete against competitors much larger than itself.

“Between myself, my son Alex and two skilled operators, we machine virtually every part needed for the flexographic printers that we manufacture.

“The XYZ machines are making a big difference to the service we provide to our customers from around the world, whether it be for one-off spare parts or parts we are making for new-build machines at short notice.

“Having control from design through manufacture and installation makes us totally self-sufficient, and the XYZ machines are a major part of this capability.

“Eliminating our former reliance on sub-contract machining has cut lead times by at least 50% — plus we are in total control of both cost and quality.”

While the increased efficiency derived from Nacom producing its own components was justification enough for making this investment in the XYZ machines, an unexpected benefit was the fact that the company is now picking up sub-contract work, as word spreads about its new capability; so much so that a further machine — an XYZ CT52 turning centre — has recently been installed to bolster Nacom’s turning capability.

This is a ‘new direction’ for Mr Cadby and his team, as the CT52 turning centre is the first of Nacom’s machines without a ProtoTrak control; it features a Siemens 828D ShopTurn conversational system.

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