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Out with the old and in with the new at NPI

Leading precision sub-contractor invests in two new Doosan vertical machining centres and a Doosan cobot during the lockdown

Posted on 12 Aug 2020 and read 532 times
Out with the old and in with the new at NPIAyrshire-based NPI Solutions Ltd, has recently invested in two new Doosan vertical machining centres and a new Doosan cobot, supplied by Leamington Spa-based Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools into the UK and Ireland.

The two machines - a Doosan DNM 4000 and a DNM 6700 - were installed at the company’s 46,000ft2 facility in the first week of July, replacing two older machining centres that had served the company well.

The Doosan M1013 cobot, the company’s first investment in a robotic automation system, was delivered and installed in late July. The decision to invest in new machine tool and automation technologies was made during the height of the pandemic in April.

At a time when many manufacturers may have understandably been ‘battening down the hatches’, NPI chose a different route; one entirely in keeping with the company’s business ethos and approach.

Kevin Priestley, NPI’s managing director, said: “NPI is a company that is committed to continuous improvement and, as such, regularly monitor and review our performance. Earlier this year we realised that two of our older machining centres were creating a ‘pinch point’ in our operations and were affecting our productivity and efficiency, so we approached Mills CNC to discuss a way forward.”

NPI is no stranger to Mills CNC, or to the Doosan machine tools it sells and supports, as it has previously made a number of strategic investments with Doosan machine tools. Prior to the addition of the two latest machines, NPI had acquired three Doosan lathes and three Doosan machining centres.

Kevin Priestley said: “Doosan machines are reliable and represent good value. We also like Mills CNC as it knows our business and we believe the company’s after-sales service and support is hard to beat.”

Best-selling models

The two new DNM machines acquired by NPI are proven performers and are also best-selling models. The DNM 4000 is a compact machining centre equipped with a 18.5kW/12,000rev/min direct-drive spindle, a 20-position quick-change automatic tool changer (ATC) and, in-line with NPI’s preference, a Fanuc 0iMF control.

The machine has impressive 48m/min rapid feed rates and, like all newer DNM models, features an innovative and efficient grease lubrication system that eliminates the need for an oil skimmer and reduces lubrication costs by up to 60%.

The DNM 4000 is also versatile and delivers excellent cutting performance. It is fast and accurate and, in many respects, is similar to the larger Doosan DNM 6700 machine which is equipped with a 18.5kW/8,000rev/min direct-coupled spindle, a larger 30/40 position ATC, grease-lubricated LM roller guideways and thermal error compensation system that ensures high-accuracy over long machining runs.

Mills CNCMr Priestley continued: “We machine high-precision components — from prototypes and small batch series, through to larger volumes - for a growing number of UK and international customers.

“To meet their quality and lead time demands we need access to reliable, high-performance machine tool technologies. The new Doosan machining centres are a case in point.”

The company’s commitment to continuous improvement and willingness to invest in its future was the driving force behind the first collaborative robot investment.

Mr Priestley said: “We are always looking to improve and recognise the power and potential of automation. In discussions with Mills’ sales and technical consultants we began exploring the benefits we could gain from integrating a cobot with our five-axis Doosan DNM 350-5AX machining centre acquired in 2016.”

“The ability to run the machine and cobot unattended was particularly appealing and would help us really take advantage and exploit of the DNM 350-5AX’s one-hit machining capabilities. Lights-out operations is a desired state and the cobot investment is a first step in getting there.”

Prior to deciding on the Doosan M1013 cobot, NPI approached other cobot suppliers to see what was available, but Mr Priestley concluded: “The Doosan cobot was selected for its build quality, and its safety, payload and reach radius characteristics and the fact that it was backed by Mills CNC made it an easy decision for us to make.”