Celebrating its centenary in 2021, Huddersfield-based Westin Drives
has been providing 24/7 service and repair facilities for electric motors and other electro-mechanical equipment. Any machining that it required was either sub-contracted or limited to a single manual centre lathe.
Five years ago, the decision was made to bring machining in-house to address logistical issues surrounding the low-volume sub-contract requirement. With no prior internal machining knowledge, it proved to be a successful move and that side of the business has transformed into what is Westin Engineering today.
Initially, machine investments were targeted purely at supporting Westin Drives services. However, it rapidly developed and with strategic acquisitions Westin Engineering has developed into a full-service sub-contract machinist itself; offering everything from reverse-engineering single components to volume production for a diverse range of industries.
Fraser Lynch, Westin Engineering director, said: “Our primary priorities were the milling and turning capabilities which saw the arrival of an XYZ 1020 VMC with an optional fourth axis, supplied by Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools
this allowed us to machine larger bearing housings, while the addition of an XYZ SLX 425 ProTurn lathe was ideal for one-off and low-volume turning work to support Westin Drives.”Acquisitions
While these two machines enabled Westin Engineering to support its sister company, the next major development came in 2017 with the purchase of Kenward Engineering, a gear cutting specialist, followed by the acquisition of general sub-contractor, Kingsmith Engineering. These two developments brought with them a need for further machining investment.
Mr Lynch continued: “Much of the machining capability of these two businesses was either specialist gear cutting equipment or dated turning and milling machines, so we needed to invest further; particularly in turning and milling capacity,” adds Fraser Lynch.
We looked at mill-turn machines, but after speaking with XYZ Machine Tools we decided to opt for an XYZ CT65 LTY turning centre with LNS bar feed capability.
The Y axis and live tooling on our two CT65 LTYs meant we could transfer a lot of work directly to them and reduce the number of operations required from four or five in some cases down to just two operations maximum. The bar feed allows us to run unmanned throughout the night.
During the day, the two machines are managed by a single operator, giving us significant efficiency gains as for a vast majority of work. These two machines can achieve the work output of two lathes and two machining centres.”
With the bulk of the turning and milling now accounted for, attention turned to gear cutting. The acquisition of Kenward brought with it several specialist gear cutting, shaping and hobbing machines, but Westin Engineering was looking for greater versatility.
Especially for one-off or low volume manufacture, where the cost of specialist gear cutting tooling was prohibitive. Smaller shaft and pinion work could be accommodated on the XYZ 1020 VMC, but larger diameter gears posed a problem. The solution was an XYZ UMC-5X simultaneous five-axis machining centre.
Mr Lynch explained: “We discussed our requirement with the applications team at XYZ Machine Tools and through their recommendation, we contacted Don Tyne Gear Systems, a specialist gear design company, whose software can generate gear data that can be transferred to our Open Mind CAD/CAM allowing the machining of the full tooth form using the simultaneous five-axis capability of the XYZ UMC-5X.”
The combination of software and the Siemens control on the UMC-5X makes gear design and manufacture almost conversational. Lead times dramatically shortened
By eliminating the reliance on highly-skilled personnel, time-consuming calculations and expensive gear cutting tooling, it meant Westin Engineering could provide a quick response and dramatically shorten lead times for this type of work.
A further advantage is that by making use of sister tooling in the UMC-5X toolchanger (with up to 60 positions), the machine can run lights out.
Mr Lynch added: “Using the standard probing and the integrated Smart Machining Technology on the UMC-5X we can monitor tool wear, or, set the machine to switch to sister tooling after a set number of teeth have been cut to maintain production overnight — all while using standard tooling such as ball nose cutters.
“We see a lot of potential on the machining side and we are identifying a lack of supply capability for machining, especially where it involves more than just making to print and there is a requirement for engineering input.
He concluded: “Our investment is enabling us to cut lead times on work such as this, and working with XYZ Machine Tools has additional benefits through their close working relationships with other suppliers; such as Open Mind and Ceratizit, while the ProtoTrak and Siemens controls bring added flexibility to our work. Add to that the cost-benefit of the XYZ machines and it all makes perfect sense.”
This willingness to invest is paying dividends and has assisted Westin Engineering to build on its reputation for delivering on its promises and, their partnership with XYZ Machine Tools also goes beyond the simple provision of machining capacity.